Generally more of the same, plus a solid pulse from the south

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 15th May)

Best Days: Persistent E'ly trade swell in SE Qld for the entire period. Fun S'ly swells for Northern NSW, biggest Friday and then Tuesday

Recap: We’ve had a fun small mix of S’ly and E’ly swells across the beachbreaks all week. SE Qld and Far Northern NSW have picked up 2-3ft sets out of the east, whilst Northern NSW has seen a similar level of size from a series of overlapping south swells. Winds have been variable; light offshore through the mornings and then moderate onshores throughout the lunchtime/afternoon periods. 

This week (May 16 - 17)

Today’s Forecaster Notes are brought to you by Rip Curl

It’s looking like we’ll see our current conditions persist throughout SE Qld and Far Northern NSW for the next few days. 

A stationary high in the Tasman Sea extends a broad ridge into the Coral Sea (see below) and it’ll continue to generate peaky trade swells similar to Monday and Tuesday, with size around the 2-3ft mark at most open beaches. 

Wave heights will decrease slowly as you track south from about Byron, and the east swell won’t offer much energy south of about Yamba. 

Also in the water on Thursday will be a similar south swell across Northern NSW to what we’ve seen over the last few days, with 2-3ft waves at exposed beaches, anda small mix of swells elsewhere. 

Friday will however herald the arrival largest southerly swell of this recent sequence, generated by an intense front and low tracking up towards New Zealand today. It’s poorly aligned, but there’s a broad fetch of 40-50kt winds working on a very active sea state generated by the fetch that whipped up the last few days of southerly swell, so we’ll see a healthy spread of energy along the East Coast.

South facing beaches south of Byron should increase into the 4-5ft range, though it’ll be much smaller at beaches not completely open to the south. A peak is expected mid-late morning across the Mid North Coast, and early-mid afternoon in the Far North, but there’ll be waves every day.

Most SE Qld beaches won’t see much energy form this swell, though exposed northern ends may pick up some stray 3ft sets into the afternoon.  

As for local conditions, expect a repeat of the last few days with early light offshore winds tending onshore throughout the day and becoming moderate. Friday should however see variable winds all day from the Mid North Coast up to about Ballina or Byron.

This weekend (May 18 - 19)

The computer models have slowed and weakened the effects of an approaching cut off low in the Bight for the weekend. This means we’ll see a continuation of Friday’s winds; mainly light offshore throughout the morning, tending moderate SE north from Byron into the Gold and Sunshine Coasts during the day.  

As for surf, the trades through the Coral Sea will generally hold steady so we should see a continuation of fun peaky waves around 2-3ft at open beaches from the Sunshine Coast down to about Byron, with slightly smaller surf as you head south from here. There won’t be a lot of strength in the swell though so don’t expect much action across the points. 

Friday’s southerly groundswell will slowly ease across Northern NSW throughout Saturday. Early morning should offer 3-4ft sets at south swell magnets south of Byron (mainly in the Far North), easing by a foot or more throughout the day. Expect smaller surf elsewhere not completely open to the south.

Sunday may see a small reinforcing southerly groundswell push along the Northern NSW coast, generated by a poorly aligned cut-off low tracking south of Tasmania late Thursday and early Friday. It looks good in single synoptic snapshots, but unfortunately it’s travelling too fast through our swell window, and the fetch doesn’t consolidate well enough to generate any meaningful energy.

As such, we’re looking at residual background S’ly swell on Sunday around 2ft at south facing beaches (smaller elsewhere etc) but we may see occasional bigger sets - say, 2-3ft at the swell magnets south of Byron - every so often. Don’t expect a lot of consistency though, as this energy will only just be glancing the swell magnets. 

Next week (May 20 onwards)

We’ve seen a change in the long range model guidance, with another strong front expected to approach southern New Zealand over the weekend, offering a similar synoptic setup to the system currently in the region.

This is expected to generate another long period S’ly groundswell for very late Monday afternoon (Mid North Coast) and Tuesday (remaining Northern NSW coast), offering a wide variety of wave heights across the region due to the acute angle, but possibly up to 3-5ft at some south facing beaches.

Next week is also expected to see a continuation of small E'ly swells in SE Qld thanks to a stationary high in the Tasman Sea directing fresh trades through the Coral Sea.  

Let’s take a closer look on Friday.


Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 3:11pm

1 good day of waves and barely a handful with nice weather. Autumn. WTF.

surfiebum's picture
surfiebum's picture
surfiebum commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 3:21pm

Yeah, getting stupid now. Just checked the forecast : 2-3ft of junky ESE swell and wind for the next week and a half (at least) on the SC.
This pattern just refuses to break down into anything like autumn

adsi's picture
adsi's picture
adsi commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 8:49pm

There's been good waves and conditions around byron for the last few days, today was south west wind all day, good morning surf then the arvo sesh was unreal, man in the grey suit patrolling the lineup scared some euro's off which was a bonus.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:27am

Looks like the last five days have delivered a better, stable week of fun beachbreaks, consisting of a fun small mix of S'ly and E'ly swells.

Hope you've been able to get out there and get some.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:46am

S'ly groundswell showing nicely in Coffs this AM.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 12:07pm

I haven't seen any S swell at all in the water since that Mother days pulse faded away.

apart from today.

adsi's picture
adsi's picture
adsi commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 1:19pm

Another great morning down here, solid 3ft + and lots of crew getting pitted. Hopefully the arvo is offshore again like yesterday with a bit more water on the banks.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 1:41pm

Couple of fun ones this morning, clear, warm water, friendly crew out - life's good.

redmondo's picture
redmondo's picture
redmondo commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 6:24pm

Excellent I had some fun ones too.

Red Clement