Plenty of south swell for Northern NSW

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 27th July)

Best Days: Tues/Wed: Solid S'ly swell across Northern NSW (building Tues PM in the Far North), but with winds best suited to the semi-exposed points. Only small in SE Qld. Thurs/Fri: small trade swell in SE Qld and a small easing S'ly swell in Northern NSW. 

Recap: The weekend generally played out as expected. We saw mainly light offshore winds, and an easing east swell offering slow 2ft to almost 3ft waves on Saturday, dropping to about 2ft on Sunday. There were long breaks between the sets and the surf seemed quite tidally affected at times, but both days had plenty of fun beachies across the coast (although it was smaller south of Yamba). Today we’ve seen the east swell slow to a trickle, with offshore winds persisting across all regions. South facing beaches across the Mid North Coast have seen a minor increase in southerly sideband energy from a strong W/SW fetch off the Southern NSW coast, linked to a deep low pressure system that’s going to supply us with a solid southerly groundswell over the coming days. 

This week (July 28 - 31)

We’ve essentially got one major swell system within the forecast period, and one minor swell system. 

The ‘major’ system has already developed and is pushing a new south swell across Southern NSW (Sydney’s seen it push through in the last couple of hours). The source of this swell is a deep low pressure system that tracked south of Tasmania on Sunday, pushing into Northern NSW’s acute southern swell window this morning, and displaying core wind speeds in the 50kts range. 

Unfortunately, the low is tracking east, not north-east, which is perpendicular to the great circle paths within our swell window and this factor will limit surf size across the entire East Coast. Fortunately, it’ll receive some assistance from a strong secondary front pushing north-east from Tasmanian longitudes up into the central/northern Tasman Sea overnight and into early Tuesday. This will maintain south-west gales parallel to the Southern NSW coast, and although not very well aligned within our swell window, all of this activity will contribute strong southerly swell to the region throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday.

So, how big? Due to the swell direction there will be an enormous difference in size. Additionally, the Far Northern NSW coast (north of about Yamba) will see a delay in the arrival of this swell - perhaps not until about lunchtime Tuesday (our surf model estimates late afternoon but I think it’ll show well before then). South facing beaches in Northern NSW should see anywhere between 4ft and 6ft, but freshening SW tending S/SW winds will significant reduce quality at these locations (we may see an early westerly in some locations - particularly the Far North - but surf size will be smaller at this time). 

As such, the regular beaches and semi-exposed points will be a better bet later Tuesday as the swell reaches a peak, with good 3ft+ waves on offer. Surf size should hold into Wednesday morning - especially across the Far North - but will ease throughout the day. Early SW winds will tending S’ly during the day, moderate to fresh in the north but only light to moderate in strength south of about Coffs or Yamba.

Across SE Qld, I’m not expecting much size from this swell due to the direction and storm track. Most Gold/Sunshine Coast beaches will probably max out at 1-1.5ft later Tuesday and into Wednesday, with the outer semi-exposed points seeing occasional 2ft sets. South swell magnets should see bigger waves up to 3ft but they’ll be wind affected by an afternoon southerly flow on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning is likely to see a similar amount of sizein SE Qld, and possibly an early SW breeze however winds will veer S’ly then S/SE throughout the day. So, small runners across the outer points will be your best bet for a mid-week session.

For Thursday and Friday, the overall trend will be downwards. A ridge across the Coral Sea should supply a small short range SE swell to the SE Qld region (mainly the Sunny Coast) with 2ft sets - that's the 'minor' swell event - but it probably won’t do much for the Goldy (1-2ft) or locations south of the border (1ft+). 

As such, exposed south facing beaches in Northern NSW will offer the best chance to extract the remains of the easing southerly swell; Friday will probably see very small surf prevail at most locations. 

As for conditions, it doesn’t look too bad. Light winds are expected Thursday morning ahead of a freshening northerly in the south that’ll probably become moderate to fresh overnight and extend up to the border. An approaching frontal system from the west will steer these surface northerlies to the north-west on Friday, so the open beaches will be clean albeit small.

This weekend (August 1 - 2)

The models are holding a ridge across the Coral Sea for the second half of the week, and although a little too far north than ideal for our swell window, it should supply a small trade swell for SE Qld and Far Northern NSW this weekend.

As a reference point, it’ll probably be not too dissimilar to what we saw during the weekend just past - somewhere in the 2ft range, give or take - with smaller surf south of about Yamba. Winds look really good on Saturday with a weak synoptic flow, so most beaches should see clean surf under a variable breeze. 

Sunday looks a little trickier with a front extending up the coast during the day, pushing southerly winds into Northern NSW and perhaps over the border. We may see a small increase in short range southerly windswell however no great size is expected, and conditions will be average at those locations picking up the new energy. I’ll update these thoughts on Wednesday. 

Next week (August 3 onwards)

Sunday’s southerly change will be linked to a deep low pressure system tracking below Tasmania over the weekend.

Current model guidance suggests a slow moving, multi-centered system with several core fetches displaying winds in excess of 50kts. What this suggests is a prolonged series of large, long period southerly swell for the entire south-eastern corner of the country (from SA to Vic, Tas and Southern NSW). 

How much size we see in Northern NSW will depend on the fetch alignment, and just how far east it is positioned (SE Qld probably won’t see much swell from this source). Right now we’re looking at a couple of days anywhere between 4ft and maybe 6ft range at exposed south facing beaches, most likely from Monday afternoon thru’ Wednesday. However, this is still quite some time away and will require fine tuning over the coming week, because there’s certainly room for an upgrade, especially at deepwater reefs and those coasts that funnel large southerly wavelengths particularly well. 


udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 at 12:32pm

Watching the snapper cam some pretty little runners going thru ...only small and a dozen or so surfers out.....unbelievable to see the amount of blatant burnings ....@ 2ft snapper with plenty of waves coming in ......?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 at 12:45pm

How's the sand too? Just primed for the next swell. Ruled edge and very shallow.

It's better viewing on the Greenmount camera.. mezmerising!

Cylinders85's picture
Cylinders85's picture
Cylinders85 Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 at 1:09pm

Still waiting for that swell..

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 at 1:23pm

What swell? This south swell all came in bang on forecast.

wellymon's picture
wellymon's picture
wellymon Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 at 1:40pm

Lots of great sand formation all up and down the coast IMO.
Never seen so much sand at Northern Palmy, low tide there has to be a 3m high sand wall to the dunes, and a couple of gutters that developed overnight, which look like a D9 has created;) All we need now is a nice little mild run run of East swell and Westerlies to make things nice.

Cylinders85's picture
Cylinders85's picture
Cylinders85 Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 at 3:17pm

Any swell Ben don't recall the last time i surfed anything 3/4 ft on the gold coast. The bank at snapper is ready. Just waiting.