Fun and clean for a few days, then solid and windy from the south
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 24th May)
Best Days: Sat: small clean beachies in SE Qld and Far Northern NSW. Sun/Mon: fun clean E'ly swell at most open beaches. Tues: brief punchy S'ly swell in Northern NSW, small in SE Qld with E'ly swells. Wed: small clean leftovers everywhere. Late Thurs onwards: large S'ly swell in Northern NSW, much smaller in SE Qld.
Recap: Small easing S’ly swells in Northern NSW and small persistent E’ly swells in SE Qld and Far Northern NSW have maintained fun waves across most open beaches.
Small lunchtime peelers at Snapper Rocks
Only small in Yamba, but perfect conditions
This weekend (May 25 - 26)
There’s no change to the weekend outlook.
Conditions will be clean both days with light winds, but Saturday will remain very small across most of Northern NSW, especially the Mid North Coast.
SE Qld and Far Northern NSW will continue to pick up small, slow peaky trade swells, somewhere between 2ft and almost 2-3ft at exposed beaches across the Sunshine Coast but slightly smaller from the Gold Coast south. Very little energy is expected south from about Yamba. It'll be a continuation of the current lacklustre surf so don't get too excited.
On Sunday, we’ll see a new E’ly swell build throughout the day, reaching a peak late afternoon or perhaps early Monday morning. This swell was generated by a broad though ultimately moderate-strength trough/E'ly dip south of Fiji yesterday and today, and the large travel distance will ensure set waves are very inconsistent.
However, exposed beaches across most coasts should build from 2ft to 3ft throughout the day, maybe even one or two 3-4ft bombs in the last hour or two of the day, though expect smaller surf running along the points. With light variable winds on offer it’ll be well worth scoping out an empty beach break for a quiet peaky session.
Next week (May 27 onwards)
Sunday’s new E’ly swell should hold through Monday morning, but ease slowly throughout the day. Exposed beaches may see early 3-4ft sets but it’ll be down to 2-3ft by lunchtime and into the afternoon. A passing front to the south will perk up W’ly winds, so conditions will be clean (but chilly with the breeze!).
The weather system responsible for the Sun/Mon E’ly swell will persist over the weekend in our far swell window, though in a weakened state, which means we’ll see small, slow E’ly swell holding through Tuesday and Wednesday, mainly around 2ft at most open beaches.
However, we’ll see a brief flush of south swell on Tuesday, originating from gale-force W/SW winds exiting eastern Bass Strait later Sunday and into Monday. This system will project through the western Tasman Sea and align more SW off Southern NSW, which should kick plenty of energy for exposed south facing beaches south of Byron.
This is a better synoptic projection than Wednesday’s forecast was expecting (to be honest, it’s more inline with last Monday’s outlook!), and should reach 4ft+ at south facing beaches south of Byron on Tuesday, before easing rapidly into Wednesday. Beaches not open to the south will be much smaller, and north of the border, we’ll see much smaller south swell glancing the coast - just 1.5ft at most SE Qld locations (the E'ly swell will be bigger), up to 2-3ft at exposed northern ends for a brief period.
Conditions look pretty good both Tuesday and Wednesday with moderate offshore winds across the Mid North Coast, and light variable winds in Far Northern NSW and SE Qld.
Looking further ahead, and a very significant node of the Long Wave Trough is expected to amplify into the Bight early next week, generating very large waves for SA, Vic and some Tasmanian coasts.
Although the mature phase of this event will generally occur inside the Tasmanian swell shadow (relative to NSW’s swell window), we’ll see a powerful secondary phase push through the lower Tasman Sea mid-week (see chart below), generating large southerly swells from Thursday afternoon onwards. The latest models are looking pretty good, with a much stronger, more favourable alignment compared to the last few days and subsequently wave heights have been revised upwards. In fact we could be looking at two or three days of very large surf south of Byron.
Thursday morning stands an outside chance at seeing a small increase in southerly swell spread across Northern NSW from westerly gales exiting eastern Bass Strait, but the afternoon and particularly Friday will see the most energy, with south facing beaches south of Byron likely to push upwards of 6-8ft or more at the height of the event on Friday.
Whilst SE Qld will pick up some of this swell, most beaches and outer points will remain small at perhaps 2ft, maybe 2-3ft if we're very lucky (south swells are rarely worthwhile north of the border), with exposed northern ends more likely to see larger but more wind affected 3-5ft surf.
Local conditions look pretty windy, with gusty W/SW winds Thursday tending SE then S/SW into Friday and then S’ly through Saturday. So, it'll mainly be suited to the points and other protected locations.
Further fronts trailing behind will maintain this active phase of strong south swell into the weekend too.
And as a side note, we'll see small E'ly swells persisting all of next week from modest, stationary trade activity in the South Pacific. A signifciant intensification is expected well south of Tahiti around Thursday next week (see below) which looks impressive on the synoptics, however the large travel distance will likely erode a considerable percentage of size. Still, it'll be worth keeping a close eye on.
Have a great weekend!