Small surf to persist into the weekend; next week looks more dynamic
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 20th March)
Best Days: Thurs/Fri/Sat: small mix of E'ly swells with mainly light winds. Wed/Thurs: strong S'ly swells in Northern NSW, smaller S/SE windswells in SE Qld. Next Thurs onwards: slowly building E'ly swells.
Recap: Most beaches have seen very small, slow conditions over the last few days but the Mid North Coast has picked up a little more size from a E’ly swell, and most Northern NSW coasts saw a faint, inconsistent though long period S’ly swell yesterday and today, offering very occasional 2-3ft sets at reliable swell magnets. Winds have been light with afternoon sea breezes.
This week (Mar 19 - 22)
*this week's Forecaster Notes will be occasionally brief and erratic, as Craig is on annual leave - to receive notification when they’re updated, please update your account preferences*
Our swell windows are devoid of any major synoptic activity, and with our recent glancing southerly swell now exiting to the north, we have to look towards peripheral swell sources for the short term.
A broad trough occupies the western Tasman Sea, and a developing NE infeed into its eastern flank today will generate some sideband E’ly swell for Thursday afternoon and Friday. This fetch is better aimed towards Tasmania, but we should see some useful surf rebuild back up into the 2ft+ range across the Mid North Coast, with slightly smaller surf across the Far North Coast. It'll be pretty slow and inconsistent though, as it's off-axis from our swell window.
It’ll be pretty small in SE Qld for the next few days though distant E’ly activity should maintain small, rideable conditions at exposed beaches in the 1-2ft range, with long waits for the bigger waves. Mainly light winds are expected both days, in the form of early offshores and afternoon sea breezes.
This weekend (Mar 23 - 24)
Saturday looks better than Sunday, as an approaching series of fronts will freshen N’ly winds across the coast for the second half of the weekend. Winds will likely be strongest in the south but they could still potentially impact surf quality across SE Qld and Far Northern NSW, so make the most of Saturday. Early Sunday morning may also have a brief window of opportunity whilst winds are temporarily more NW.
As for surf, there won’t be a great deal of size or energy on offer, just a mix of Friday’s mid-range E’ly swell from the Tasman trough (biggest across the Mid North Coast), plus a similar level of small, long range (though ultimately moderate-period) E’ly swell from a lengthy fetch way out NE of New Zealand over the weekend.
Expect slow, inconsistent 2ft+ sets at exposed beaches at best, with long periods of very small conditions between the bigger waves.
Next week (Mar 25 onwards)
A vigorous series of fronts and lows will cross the SE corner of the country early next week, delivering winteresque wintery gales to the Far South Coast. An associated southerly change will push along the Northern NSW coast on Tuesday, reaching the border late in the day (expect gusty N’ly winds prior to this, on Monday; Tuesday morning may see W’lies ahead of the S’ly).
Initially, this system will be poorly aligned for our coast - mainly behind the swell shadow of Tasmania - but Monday morning should see W/SW gales exiting eastern Bass Strait that’ll generate fresh southerly swells for Northern NSW later Tuesday. Unfortunately, this will be in the lee of the change and therefore quite bumpy.
Wednesday and Thursday will see building S’ly groundswells from the parent low, tracking below Tasmania later Monday and early Tuesday. It still looks like it’ll be poorly aligned but we should pick up 4-5ft sets at most south facing beaches (south of Byron), with the associated long periods (16-18 seconds) originating from 50kt core winds (see below) likely to further enhance wave heights at offshore bombies and reliable swell magnets. It'll be much smaller at beaches not open to the south though.
Unfortunately, conditions looks to be pretty bumpy under fresh S'ly tending S/SE winds, and protected locations will be a lot smaller.
SE Qld won’t really see much S’ly groundswell from this event, but a strengthening ridge across the region on Wednesday will build local S/SE swells that should provide small runners along the outer points (2ft+), with poor, wind affected but bigger surf at exposed northern ends (3-4ft). This pattern will slowly ease from Thursday.
Looking beyond this and there’s plenty of surf in store for the longer term period. Secondary fronts travelling through the lower Tasman Sea will generate more S’ly swell for the second half of next week, and a developing tropical system near Fiji and Tonga early next week looks like it’ll evolve into a favourable E’ly swell machine by mid-late week, resulting in an initially small, slow upwards trend around Thurs/Fri, ahead of a better quality groundswell through the weekend and into the start of the following week.
More on that in Friday’s notes.