Small lacklustre swells for the foreseeable future
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 18th January)
Best Days: No great days. If you're desperate, Sun/Mon/Tues in SE Qld with a small trade swell across the exposed beaches (biggest on Sunny Coast) but that's about it.
Recap: Thursday morning saw a brief period of light N’ly winds across Far Northern NSW and SE Qld, and inconsistent 3ft sets of E’ly swell, which faded through the day as the NE breeze picked up. Today we’ve seen much smaller, weaker surf and similar winds. The E’ly swell event is over! In my hood (Tweed Coast) it’s been very productive since about Xmas Day, which is just over three weeks.
This weekend (Jan 19 - 20)
The forecast charts don’t show much, but SE Qld will see a small increase in mid range E/NE swell over the coming days, from a strengthening trade flow through the Coral Sea. It’s not well aligned within our swell window, and we’ll see the largest waves across the Sunshine Coast, with smaller surf as you track south from the Gold Coast.
There won’t be a lot of size on offer, and because the swell source won’t be consistent, we’ll see pulse, episodic wave heights. The Sunshine Coast may pulse somewhere between 2ft and maybe 2-3ft (more likely Sunday than Saturday), with 2ft waves on the Gold and Tweed Coasts, and 1-2ft surf south from Ballina. Expect periods of smaller surf at times too, especially Saturday.
Winds look like they’ll again straddle the user-friendly threshold of about 10-12kts. Sunday looks to be the best day as we’ll see freshening N’ly winds across all region (strongest in the south) as a front pushes up the coast, then stalls around Coffs Harbour into Sunday.
Winds should become light and variable on Sunday north from Yamba but we’ll see moderate S’ly winds across the Mid North Coast. The Sunshine Coast also has risk of a moderate E’ly breeze as it’ll be closest to the Coral Sea ridge.
A small south swell associated with Saturday’s change may also provide some occasional 2ft+ sets to south swell magnets in Northern NSW on Sunday (mainly south from Coffs) but local winds don’t look great.
Next week (Jan 21 onwards)
The ridge through the Coral Sea is expected to hold through until late Tuesday, so we should see similar wave heights (as mentioned above) ebb and flow from this direction from Monday thru’ Wednesday.
Monday and early Tuesday look like being the only workable days with light winds though - we’ll see freshening N/NE winds on Tuesday afternoon and possibly Wednesday as a troughy pattern envelops the western Tasman Sea. So make the most of the start of the week if you're that way inclined.
As for other swell sources, it doesn’t look promising - while there’s always a chance that we’ll see the inclusion of one vital ingredient tip the troughy balance in favour of something significant, right now it’s hard to get excited.
A series of poorly aligned though strong fronts passing south of Tasmania throughout the forecast period will drive small intermittent S’ly swells along the Northern NSW, but their sideband nature won’t contribute much size. Late Tuesday and Wednesday are showing the most potential right now with an outside chance for stray 2-3ft sets at south swell magnets south of Byron Bay but there won’t be much elsewhere. I wouldn’t count on this as a reliable swell source.
Another burst of fronts in the south-eastern corner of the Tasman Sea around Wednesday may kick up some small S/SE swell around Friday but I can’t see much in it.
Otherwise the tropics look generally uninteresting. A small but tight tropical low will develop SE of Fiji around Monday, and linger for much of the week, but without a supporting high pressure system to the south, the associated fetch length will be short and so the large travel distance will erode the vast majority of its swell potential. I’ll keep an eye on it anyway, as this has a chance at supplying a small easterly swell later next week and into the weekend. With some luck the models will broaden the ridge of high pressure to the south in future updates, which will improve the surf outlook.
Have a great weekend! See you Monday.