Nought for SE Qld; funky south swells for Northern NSW
South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 13th July)
Best Days: Tues/Wed/Thurs, maybe Fri: fun pulsey south swell in Northern NSW with good winds (nothing in SE Qld away from south swell magnets). Sat/Sun: small surf at the semi-exposed points in SE Qld. Sun/Mon: great waves at exposed beaches south of Yamba under light winds and a building S'ly groundswell.
Recap: Tiny leftover swell early Saturday morning, becoming flat Sunday and Monday.
This week (July 14 - 17)
Let’s preface these forecast notes by stating up front that the entire working week still looks tiny for SE Qld. If you don’t have access to a reliable south swell magnet, you’re unlikely to get wet all week.
So, looking at the synoptics, and a low pressure system developed off the South Coast of NSW this morning, of which winds have been very strong (up to 61kts at Gabo Island).
However, this low has, and will continue to display a strong SW component in the wind field within Northern NSW’s (acute) south swell window, thanks to a broad upper low and an approaching secondary surface low to the SW of Tasmania. This will cap wave heights at the coast compared to a straight southerly or south-easterly fetch.
South facing beaches in Southern NSW saw an increase late today and it’ll fill in across Northern NSW overnight and into Tuesday morning (note: there may be a lag on this new swell in the Far North). But, due to the complex fetch structure around this multi-centered low pressure system, it’s hard to pin down the exact swell phases over the next few days. Additionally, there’ll be a significant range in wave heights across the coast, compared to most south swells, so many beaches will miss out on waves.
I’ve also gotta say that I’m not confident on how much size we’ll see. Core wind speeds are very strong within the fetch but the poor alignment really reduces my confidence for this event.
Anyway, the swell energy expected into Tuesday will have been generated by SW gales extending NE from eastern Bass Strait. But another front approaching Tasmania today will provide a secondary source as it pushes east of Tasmania tonight. So, after an initial peak Tuesday morning we’ll probably see a downwards trend throughout the day ahead of the secondary pulse arriving on Wednesday. This secondary pulse won’t provide any more size but should arrest the otherwise easing trend.
How big? South facing beaches in Northern NSW should see anywhere between 3ft and occasionally (at super reliable south swell magnets) 5ft sets on Tuesday morning, with much smaller surf at most open beaches (2ft+) and tiny conditions inside sheltered southern corners. Conditions should be clean with moderate W’ly winds, and surf size will trend down into the afternoon. And just a reminder: the Far North may not see much energy first thing.
Wednesday’s secondary pulse should keep exposed south swell magnets humming with inconsistent 3-4ft sets, again much smaller at beaches not open to the south. And conditions will remain clean with W’ly winds.
As for the rest of the week, we have another swell due Thursday from another low pressure centre that’s expected to develop SW of New Zealand’s South Island on Tuesday, forming another southerly fetch aimed into our swell window. It’s expected to reach the Mid North Coast in the morning and the Far North Coast in the afternoon (so, expect smaller surf ahead of it). Most open south facing beaches should see occasional 3ft+ sets as it fills in, and again conditions are looking great with W’ly winds. However our surf model isn’t picking this system up very well just yet so we’ll have to wait and see how it performs over the coming days.
Also on Thursday, a low pressure system is expected to form off the Southern NSW Coast. In fact, this next system looks like a possible contender for an East Coast Low - but right now it’s too early to pin down any specifics (we may only see a swell increase on Friday across the Southern NSW coast). The most likely scenario for Friday is easing S/SE swell from Thursday and freshening W’ly tending SW winds. I’ll take a closer look at this in Wednesday’s notes.
This weekend (July 18 - 19)
Right now, the broader surf trend for the weekend hinges somewhat on the developing low off the coast on Friday.
Whilst the models are in general agreement that this synoptic event will occur, we’re still not sure how much size it’ll generate Friday, and therefore how much size will be leftover Saturday as it departs our region.
But there is some good news for SE Qld surfers, as this low should kick up a small S/SE swell for the region with possibly a few reasonable waves at semi-exposed points. Conditions will be quite gusty though with fresh winds from the southern quadrant.
Also, just to throw in a curveball - we’re also looking at a steady building trend in new long range southerly groundswell over the weekend too (only for south facing beaches in Northern NSW), culminating in a peak around Monday. A series of intense polar lows (three of ‘em) are expected to push off the ice shelf into our far southern swell window from Thursday through Sunday; the first new swell will only be small but should arrive sometime Saturday ahead of a bigger round of energy due Sunday.
As such, the overall trend is for an easing combo of southerly and south-east swell on Saturday fresh S’ly winds, possibly a few pockets of light SW winds here and there. Most SE Qld beaches will probably see 1-2ft surf but semi-exposed points may see occasional 2ft+ sets and south facing beaches will be bigger, albeit very wind affected.
Sunday looks to be the pick of the weekend with the building southerly groundswell replacing the fading SE windswell, and winds tending light and variable across the Mid North and North Coasts as a broad high pressure ridge envelops the region. There may however be a lingering S/SE flow across the Far North, and SE Qld regions (surf size will be small anyway north of Cape Byron, similar to Saturday, so no great loss).
At this stage, we’re looking at great waves to finish the weekend south of about Yamba, and south facing beaches could be seeing anywhere between 3ft and occasionally 5ft of quality long period energy (note: the upper end of this size range will be contingent on core wind speeds reaching 45-50kts and peak swell periods touching 16-18 seconds). Let’s see how Wednesday’s model runs are looking.
Next week (July 19 onwards)
If the current model runs hold true, next Monday will see the final day in this series of building south swells, with great waves likely at many exposed beaches in Northern NSW and light winds just about everywhere.
After this there’s nothing significant on the radar except a continuation of poor lows through the Southern Ocean that should maintain small to moderate south swell through the middle part of next week.
The models also have a moderate ridge through the Coral Sea from Sunday onwards so a small SE swell is expected across the Gold and (especially) Sunshine Coasts for the first half of next week. More on this on Wednesday.