Flag the weekend; next week will resume the S'ly swell machine
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 14th August)
Best Days: Tues thru' Thurs: extended run of acute, pulsey south swells in Northern NSW with generally OK conditions. Fri: very large in Northern NSW and windy out of the south. Much smaller across SE Qld, but equally windy. Next weekend: solid but easing but from the south, and improving on the surface. Prob best suited to outer SE Qld points where it'll be a lot smaller.
Recap: Thursday delivered fantastic S’ly swells across Northern NSW in the 4-5ft range, easing to 3-4ft this morning and more rapidly to 2ft this afternoon. Surf size has been very small throughout SE Qld, away from south swell magnets on Thursday. Light morning offshore winds have preceded moderate to fresh afternoon N/NE sea breezes.
This weekend (August 17 - 18)
There’s been no improvement to the weekend forecast since Wednesday’s notes.
We have two minor swell sources - a small low that tracked under Tasmania on Thursday, and another small low/front that’ll push up the South Coast early Saturday morning, swinging winds to the south.
The first swell source should provide slow 2ft sets at south facing beaches (south of Byron) during Saturday, the second is likely to contribute a similar size through Sunday, perhaps a tad smaller. However quality won’t be high, and it’ll be much smaller away from the swell magnets. I'm really not confident there'll be anything worthwhile either day.
Winds are likely to be light offshore through Saturday morning, trending NW across northern locations ahead of an afternoon N’ly breeze. A shallow S’ly change may influence parts of the Mid North Coast on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday morning’s light winds will freshen from the NE into the afternoon (lighter in the north than in the south), but without a lot of size on offer there’s not much use in making any recommendations for waves. Aim for the swell magnets and keep your expectations low.
Next week (August 19 onwards)
There’s a lot of dynamic weather on the cards for next week.
A series of strong fronts will strengthen N’ly winds overnight Sunday, ahead of a gusty S’ly change pushing up the Northern NSW coast Monday lunchtime onwards, reaching SE Qld very late.
No new swell is expected on Monday morning, and the afternoon’s S’ly breeze will blow out a projected increase in S’ly swell spread for the afternoon (across Northern NSW).
However, there’s plenty of swell on the way for the rest of the week.
W’ly gales exiting eastern Bass Strait in the early hours of Monday morning will veer W/SW around dawn, and this will build an acute though punchy south swell for Tuesday, at south facing beaches south of Byron.
In fact, this synoptic airstream exiting Bass Strait into the Tasman Sea will maintain strength from the W/SW through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as a series of strong fronts push across the SE corner of the country, associated with an amplifying node of the Long Wave Trough.
Further fronts - even stronger, associated with a deep Tasman Low - will develop windy conditions across Northern NSW and SE Qld into Friday, though the direction will trend S’ly as the LWT moves east into the Tasman Sea.
These first three days of LWT-derived swells will be acutely south in direction. As such, we’ll see wide variations in size between exposed beaches and protected locations, and with several embedded pulses expected within this time frame, it’s difficult to have confidence each days trend (because every new pulse will be arriving on top of an existing, easing swell).
As such, let’s keep things broad.
Late Monday and Tuesday are likely to reach a peak around 3-4ft across south facing beaches south of Byron (may be a Monday lag on this first swell in the Far North), whilst Wednesday and Thursday should push a little higher (4-5ft). Expect smaller surf at beaches with less southerly exposure, especially for most of SE Qld, though exposed northern ends should see occasional 2ft+ waves. There'll be periods of smaller swells between each pulse too.
On Friday, the biggest swell in the sequence will develop in response to S’ly gales developing parallel to the Southern NSW coast (see below).
At this stage it’s well within the realms of possibility that we’ll pick up windy 8ft+ sets at south facing beaches south of Byron, much smaller elsewhere and considerably undersize across SE Qld’s outer points because of the steep S’ly direction and close proximity of the source fetch to the NSW coast. However, with these windy conditions, only extremely sheltered locations will be worthwhile anyway.
As a side note, there'll be a couple of minor secondary swells in the water next week - a small SE swell Tuesday from a weekend S/SE fetch off the SW tip of New Zealand's South Island, and a small to moderate E/SE swell around Tuesday/Wednesday from a fetch of E/SE gales developing in western Cook Strait (separating NZ's North and South Islands) on Saturday night. However they'll generally be smaller in size than the aforementioned S'ly swells and it'll be generally hard to notice 'em.
As for next weekend, we’ll be on the backside of Friday's major event but it’s likely to remain pretty large into Saturday at least (though easing), and local conditions should moderate as the whole pattern moves further into the Tasman Sea, away from the coastal margin.
Have a great weekend, see you Monday!