thermalben

Southerly bluster

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 21st August)

Best Days: Thurs: solid from the south in Northern NSW, with mainly offshore winds though strong S'lies will develop from the south into the afternoon. A very large increase should impact the Mid North Coast late in the day. Expect small surf in SE Qld all day. Fri: moderate to fresh S'ly through SW winds, easing, with very large though abating S'ly swell in Northern NSW, still solid but much smaller in SE Qld (best at the outer points). Sat: solid in Northern NSW (small in SE Qld) and easing, clean with a brief window of early light winds. 

Recap: Moderate S’ly swells have provided a wide range in size across the Northern NSW region for the last few days, anywhere between 3-5ft though with much smaller surf elsewhere. SE Qld saw very small surf from this south swell, with exposed northern ends picking up occasional 3ft sets. Additionally, it appears some SE Qld beaches may have seen a small, inconsistent E/SE swell in the water today, from a fetch off the North Island of New Zealand on Monday. However it hasn’t been a strong signal. Conditions have been clean through the mornings with offshore winds, while afternoon sea breezes have bumped things up after lunch. 

Decent surf at Sunshine this morning (check the bloke on the peak, for size)

Nice S'ly lines in Yamba this afternoon

This week (August 20 - 23)

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

Let’s look at the local winds first. 

Thursday will kick off with moderate W’ly breezes, but a vigorous front will push up the Northern NSW coast into the afternoon, driving fresh to strong S’ly winds into the afternoon. We’ll see an arrival across the Lower Mid North Coast around midday, but the change may not kick in across the Far North Coast until late afternoon. So, some coasts - mainly in the north - could see clean conditions for much of the day. 

Fresh, easing regional S’ly winds should revert back to the SW across many locations during the morning, and some regions (mainly Mid North Coast) could be light by the end of the day - though moderate to perhaps fresh southerlies will persist about SE Qld and Far Northern NSW. 

As such, most locations should be clean on Thursday but protected locations will be your only option late afternoon and into Friday. 

As for surf, we’ve got a stack of sizeable south swell on the way. A vigorous frontal passage across the SE corner of the state will reach maximum strength early Thursday as a broad fetch of 50-60kt SW winds exit eastern Bass Strait (see below). They’ll be working on a very active sea state generated by strong cold fronts ahead of it. 

The existing fetch should kick surf size up into the 5-6ft range at south facing beaches (south of Byron) for Thursday morning, with smaller surf elsewhere. There won’t be much across SE Qld either, just a slow foot or two across the outer Gold Coast points, bigger near 3ft+ at exposed northern ends, but smaller across the Sunshine Coast. 

The timing on the larger, much more powerful surf from the aforementioned fetch development (exiting eastern Bass Strait) will probably push into the Mid North Coast during the afternoon, but may not reach the Northern Rivers until overnight. It's not ideally aligend within our swell window, but there are many factors working in favour of a very significant swell event (strength, duration, storm track, active sea state etc).

We’ll be able to track its progress up the coast though.

Wave heights from this particular fetch will reach a peak overnight, and we’re looking at solid, wind affected 8ft, maybe 8-10ft sets at south facing locations south of Byron. Of course, beaches with less southerly exposure will be a lot smaller, but surfable options will really be limited to very sheltered locations where it'll be signifciantly smaller (there'll be a very large spread in size, due to the acute swell direction). Wave heights will ease steadily throughout the day. 

SE Qld will probably be the biggest beneficiary of this event, though wave heights will be much smaller than in Northern NSW. Outer Gold Coast points should push into the 3-5ft range, and it’ll be too big for exposed northern ends and south facing beaches with 5-6ft+ sets. Expect smaller surf across the Sunshine Coast (protected inner points will remain very small though, due to the swell direction). Again, size will also ease into the afternoon. 

If you’re planning on surfing at the height of this event, keep in mind there'll be a lot of water moving around late Thursday and Friday, so spend an extra fifteen minutes watching the surf before you paddle out - it'll be very easy to find yourself in trouble. 

This weekend (August 24 - 25)

As mentioned on Monday, we’ve got a northerly spoiler in store for the weekend. 

Saturday morning will see light winds as a high pressure system develops in the Northern Tasman Sea, but an approaching front to the south will tighten the pressure gradient over the weekend, freshening N/NW winds. They’ll be strongest in Northern NSW on Saturday afternoon, reaching 20kts across the Mid North Coast. (lighter winds are expected in the Far North, and SE Qld).

As for surf, Friday’s large swell will be on the ease, from 5-6ft at south facing beaches (south of Byron), and 2-3ft across the outer Gold Coast points (bigger exposed northern ends, but smaller across the Sunshine Coast). 

There should be a degree of NW in the wind direction across SE Qld so the open beaches should fare well on the backside of this swell event. 

Sunday’s looking small and clean in Northern NSW with light winds as a weak trough develops to the south. Lingering N/NW winds are possible in SE Qld but we’ll be back to small surf by this time, only suitable for exposed northern ends (at least they’ll be reasonably clean). 

Next week (August 26 onwards)

A weak trough will linger along the NSW coast on Monday, and we’ll probably be under a light to moderate southerly tending easterly wind over the following days. 

New S’ly swell from the weekend’s frontal passage further south should build to an inconsistent 2-3ft at south facing beaches south of Byron later Monday and into Tuesday, but it’ll be slow going (the models don’t really like this swell at the moment, so confidence isn’t high). Everywhere else will be very small. 

Longer term guidance is suggesting a typical migratory frontal passage across the Southern Ocean next week, supplying small, intermittent south swells. However the trough (mentioned above) will linger in the Tasman region and could evolve into a swell generating system - though it’s not yet showing any size potential.

More on this in Friday’s update.

Comments

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 7:15am

The south swell is already powering through the Coffs Coast.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 7:21am

Not a whole lot of size getting into D'Bah but jeez, conditions are nice.

kavachi's picture
kavachi's picture
kavachi commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 9:23am

73 knots at Gabo this morning. straight SW. And that fetch pushing out into the Tasman. Going to be some very solid Cloudbreak

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 11:18am

New swell is definitely here

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 11:21am

Yikes!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 11:27am

Great waves on the Tweed this morning, very inconsistent but sets around the 3ft mark. 

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 11:34am

smaller and weaker here today.
every Cnut and his dog was here for the dawn patrol and got weak 2-3ft surf with one wave sets.

Hopefully that swell will get here before the gale force S'lies.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 6:20pm

I walked down to get out where you talking at dawn and just couldn’t do it to myself- must’ve already been 15+ in the water with the same again about to get out.
I trudged back up the hill and had a great little uncrowded sesh nearby.

Arvo was just as shit at your spot.

Feels like gone are the days of sneaking down and heading out for a quiet couple.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 1:21pm

well wind wise around coffs is light e/se...5ft swell

simba

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 1:24pm

Still offshore and looking like it's picked up on the Ballina cam Steve.

The Fire's picture
The Fire's picture
The Fire commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 6:02pm

There’s a ballina cam?

maaaan

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 6:16pm

Not on this website.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 1:27pm

yeah I'll go have another look in a minute Craig.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 1:59pm

Sizey in Coffs!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 2:05pm

S'ly change went through Newy 12:30-1pm ish. 

Should be into the Lower Mid North Coast in the next hour or so, Coffs/Yamba perhaps ~4pm? 

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 2:37pm

Small peelers at Snapper (not liking the pre-frontal wind though).

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 3:43pm

climbed up to a slow and lazy 4ft.

absolutely insane crowds. mind blowing.

swell started to build just as the wind went onshore. not hard S'ly but light/mod E to ESE.

edit: that might be a Seabreeze as prelude to the S'ly or it might be the main event warming up, Yamba has the sou-easter up and blowing.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 4:08pm

Surfed this on my own this morning. Sets were a little bigger (didn't have the patience to hang around for a proper one).
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freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 6:22pm

very weak 2-3ft with the odd (very odd) 4ft set in the hour before dark.
onshore, low energy ocean.

_devolved_'s picture
_devolved_'s picture
_devolved_ commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 7:06pm

ark I feel sorry for you never getting any good waves where you are. Such a bummer

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 7:23pm

S’ly change just into the Tweed now, gusting 39kts at Cape Byron.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 22 Aug 2019 at 7:26pm

unfortunately it's not S'ly but SSE'ly.

that little bit of E in the wind could and does make a massive difference to surface conditions.

if it doesn't moderate or swing SW by midnight it's going to be a fcuking mess in the morning.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 6:01am

Oh my. From this....

To this... (take a close look)

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 6:03am

Sets seem to be 3-4ft, maybe 3-5ft at Burleigh though.

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freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 9:45am

wobbly, wonky weird 6ft here. wind was into it early and even. before that with the offshore it had a lot of wonk through it.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 9:48am

Only one spot down here handling the swell...a few out tackling the inside corners and one ski team on the outside. Certainly not epic but a few diamonds in the rough.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 10:10am

6-8ft on the Tweed and a massive volume of water moving up the coast. Not many surfable options.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 11:13am

Total junk here.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 11:45am

"The Hazardous Surf Warning has been updated to include all Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast beaches."

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 11:46am

Slow and loggable at Alex.
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freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 1:59pm

it's hilarious how American style weather hype seems to have caught on here.

there were fcuking TV cameras here filming a regulation 6ft winter S swell like they were expecting a tsunami to be rolling down the Main Street.

was kinda fun surf actually. some 6ft sets.
lot of noise in the signal but some fun ones.

Dan K's picture
Dan K's picture
Dan K commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 8:16pm

hahaha same as here.
They love jumping on the XL southerly swell hysteria. It's funny as the local paper in Forster put a warning out but the main beach in town was barely 1ft due to the full south direction (as it is in every south swell). Mind you 5 beaches south down the Palms was 10ft+ and copping every bit of the swell

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 2:14pm

Same here Steve, BOM put out a statement saying it was a 'Rare swell event for this time of year, August'? Seriously, get these a couple of times a year during autumn/winter.

Guy from SMH was buzzing us with his drone yesterday in the morning before the swell and when the southerly hit, filming 2-3ft Winki dribble. Heavy.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 2:22pm

SMH led out with a story posted on Monday of the upcoming 'rare' event, so it had a week to trickle down through all the other media.

By chance, this week Nature posted the journal article about CC causing larger waves and now the two stories are being conflated into something far larger: an abnormal swell event likely caused by global warming!

PS: 5-6ft here this morning.

kavachi's picture
kavachi's picture
kavachi commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 5:57pm

that maaad fetch still pushing up thru the Tasman past Norfolk......14 feet @ 15 sec Thundercloud mayhem for Sunday

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 23 Aug 2019 at 6:43pm

6ft swell in winter, stay safe everyone

(from media drones and choppers)