Lots of surf and wind for the foreseeable future
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 9th September)
Best Days: Tues/Wed: protected points, southern corners etc. Thurs AM: clean conditions, and a nice round of easing SE swell, smaller in SE Qld. Fri: smaller, easing S'ly swell at south swell magnets south of Byron, with good morning winds. Sun: large S'ly swell with outer SE Qld points and protected NSW locations the best option.
Recap: Saturday’s NE swell was a little patchy, though some locations - mainly Northern NSW, south from Byron - saw 2ft+ sets and offshore winds kept conditions clean. A new south swell built slowly during Sunday, offering 4-6ft sets at south facing beaches south of Byron by late afternoon and up to 4ft across the Tweed, though it was very small through SE Qld. Conditions were mainly good with offshore winds however unexpected sea breezes did develop here and there. Today saw a continuation of strong though flukey south swell, up to 5-6ft at south facing beaches south of Byron, 4-5ft on the Tweed and with a wide variety of size across SE Qld. Some exposed parts of the Gold Coast and the northern end of the Sunshine Coast delivered 3ft+ sets, other beaches were tiny to flat. Freshening W’ly winds have kept conditions clean ahead of an approaching SW tending S’ly change.
This week (Sep 10 - 13)
We’ve got another couple of days of windy conditions ahead, with stacks of southerly swell too.
A strong pressure gradient between a large Tasman low and a high over the Bight will maintain fresh to strong southerly winds on Tuesday, reaching gale force for a period in the morning. They will ease back in strength on Wednesday though exposed locations (mainly Northern NSW) will see gusty conditions at times. One or two regions may see pockets of morning SW winds but they’ll be the exception rather than the rule - mainly SE Qld, and more likely Tuesday than Wednesday.
The models are showing quite a bit of size for the next few days but I think it’s probably overcooking things thanks to a significant level of windswell contamination in the mix. Regardless, it won’t be small: south facing beaches south of Byron should see 6-8ft+ surf through Tuesday, easing from 6ft+ Wednesday, and your best options will be at sheltered points and southern corners where it’ll be much smaller.
Across SE Qld, the swell direction will be very south on Tuesday so most beaches and outer points will see relatively small surf, however the fetch will broaden across the Tasman Sea during the day, so early Wednesday should see the direction slightly more S/SE, which will create better size prospects. Outer Gold Coast points should build from 2ft Tuesday morning to 3ft+ by the afternoon, holding a similar size early Wednesday before slowly easing into the afternoon. Exposed northern ends and south facing beaches will see more size (but remain quite wind affected), and on the balance, we’ll see slightly smaller size prospects across the Sunny Coast.
Also in the mix on Wednesday - not that it’ll be easy to decipher beneath the S/SE swell - will be a new SE swell, generated by a fetch developing in western Cook Strait this afternoon. It’ll mainly favour Northern NSW, and should hold into Thursday with 3-5ft sets at exposed beaches - a little smaller elsewhere, including SE Qld, but with some fun waves at most beaches.
In fact, Thursday morning is probably the pick of the forecast period as winds will have have throttled right back to become light W/NW, ahead of a moderate NE sea breeze.
At the same time, the leading edge of a long period S’ly groundswell will make landfall across Northern NSW, having been generated by an intense low well south of the continent today.
This system is poorly aligned within our (acute) south swell window, but core winds are in the 50-55kt range and this will generate large swell periods near 18-19 seconds. They’ll bend into the Tasman Sea and push across Northern NSW during Thursday afternoon - perhaps not until late in the day, therefore the Mid North Coast may be the only beneficiary.
Additionally, this swell will be extremely fickle, only favouring a small number of reliable south swell magnets south of Byron (into Friday morning) with inconsistent 3ft+ sets. Elsewhere, expect smaller, slower easing swells from the SE around 2ft, with not a great deal of action across the outer SE Qld points. Conditions will remain clean through the morning with light winds ahead of the sea breeze.
This weekend (Sep 14 - 15)
There’s stacks of south swell in store for the weekend. And a stack of wind too.
The front tracking under Tasmania late Thursday will kick up some small south swell across Northern NSW for Saturday morning, but an unrelated front - quite powerful - will push in on top of this swell, generating a more dominant short range event that should push south facing beaches into the 6-8ft range by Sunday. We’ll see a late afternoon building trend across the Mid North Coast, but it won’t really kick in the Far North until Sunday.
Fresh SW winds early will veer strong S’ly, persisting into Sunday, so it’ll protected points only for this event - and the strong southerly direction will shave off a lot of size through SE Qld (though the outer points will probably be your best option for a paddle, with sets around 3ft). Expect very small conditions north of the border for the most part on Saturday.
More on this in Wednesday’s update.
Next week (Sep 16 onwards)
This recent pattern of mid-latitude lows pushing through the Tasman Sea looks like they'll continue in some shape or form for the foreseeable future. It looks like next week will exhibit similar surf characteristics to this week, though I’ll have to leave it a few more days to fine tune the specifics. More on Wednesday!