Window of light winds Wed/Thurs, then a strong run of surf for the points
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 23rd April)
Best Days: Wed/Thurs AM: fun beachies with light winds. Fri: small waves at protected points under gusty S'ly winds. Sat onwards: timing isn't confident, but we're looking at some potentially solid SE swells with good winds for sheltered points developing at some point over the weekend or early next week.
Recap: Slowly easing S’ly swells Saturday rebuilt into Sunday with the arrival of a new S/SE groundswell, producing 3ft sets across south facing beaches south of Byron. Surf size was smaller across SE Qld due to the swell direction, though there was some minor leftover energy out of the east. Wave heights held into this morning in Northern NSW though eased slowly through the day, with small surf persisting about most SE Qld beaches.
This week (Apr 24 - 27)
The synoptic charts shows a broad, unstable trough lying off the East Coast.
However, it's a complex system moving in an unusual manner down the coast and without a strong supporting high pressure ridge to its south, the easterly fetch on its southern flank is not particularly strong. This is keeping swell prospects undersized for now though there is still considerable divergence in the model guidance, which means we need to keep our options flexible for the rest of the week.
Additionally, gusty southerly winds will create some problems on Tuesday as a small local system within the trough strengthens off the Far North Coast. As the trough drops to the south on Wednesday, local winds will relax and we’ll see much better conditions holding through into Thursday morning. However, a strong ridge will build across the Northern NSW coast later Thursday and into Friday, renewing gusty S’ly winds into SE Qld to finish the week.
As for surf prospects - it all looks a little underwhelming to be honest. The main axis of the trough will be south of our region, aimed into Southern NSW (and even then, won’t display much strength due to a weak high pressure ridge to its south).
A broader though ultimately moderate-strength ridge extending back through the South Pacific will generate some small workable east swell for most of the forecast period but it won’t have a lot of strength, and will ebb and flow either side of wave heights that could be reasonably deemed 'surfable’.
In short: expect small beachies through most of the forecast period from this source, probably building from 2ft to 2-3ft from Tuesday through Wednesday, then holding from Thursday through the following Monday (probably with a minor period of downtime around Friday or thereabouts between swell phases).
If anything, the lower Mid North Coast (being geographically closest to Southern NSW) may pick up some bigger waves Tues/Wed from the fetch associated with the local trough but local winds are dicey Tuesday and Wednesday may see some leftover lumpiness.
The southerly winds developing Thursday should kick up a strong short range south swell for south facing beaches on Friday but it’ll be wind affected at most beaches, and those locations offering protection will be only small.
So with all of that in mind, aim for a paddle at an exposed beach on Wednesday whilst winds are light, or early Thursday (the southerly may not reach the border until the afternoon, so we may see a decent window of opportunity all day).
This weekend (Apr 28 - 29)
Model guidance is way off target for the weekend, so confidence is down on wave height potential.
The remnants of our broad Tasman trough are expected to interact with the front system later this week, though how, when and where they do is unsure. The EC solution has a somewhat explosive development in the form of a Tasman Low on Friday, leading to a broad fetch of SE gales aimed straight into our coast that’d generate large surf (and locally windy conditions) for the weekend.
However, the US solution favours a slower development closer to the NZ coast, which would result in a smaller weekend of moderate S/SE swells, ahead of a strong (though comparatively smaller) S/SE groundswell early next week.
Both options look windy out of the S/SE anyway so it’ll be protected points only - meaning we’ll need to see a lot of swell to make it worthwhile. Chances are reasonable that there’ll be (as a minimum) 3ft surf across the outer points but if the European model eventuates then the outlook will become a whole lot bigger.
Let’s wait and see how Wednesday’s model output is looking. It’s simply too difficult to call right now.
Next week (Apr 30 onwards)
It looks like this Tasman Low is going to dominate the charts for some time, so most of next week’s outlook will hinge on whether it eventuates over the weekend, or whether it delays until next week. Either way, surf prospects look quite active next week from the SE quadrant.
See you Wednesday!