thermalben

Stacks of swell but generally poor conditions

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 16th October)

Best Days: Thurs: chance for pockets of light winds south from Port Macquarie, with a peaky mix of E'ly and N'ly swells. Fri: early peak of N'ly swell/S'ly wind combo at north-facing swell magnets. Mon onwards: extended run of small/mod S'ly swell for Northern NSW.

Recap: SE swells maintained 2-3ft surf at many coasts on Tuesday but winds quickly freshened from the north, following an early period of light N/NW winds in some regions. Wave heights have eased into today and we’ve got persistent northerly winds creating problems away from sheltered northern corners. Some locations did again see early light N/NW winds though.

Small leftovers at Coffs this morning

Brief window of light N/NW winds on the Gold Coast this morning

This week (Oct 16 - 17)

The publish time of these Forecaster Notes will be erratic this week, as Craig’s on annual leave. To receive an email when they go live, please edit your user settings here: www.swellnet.com/user

It’s all well and good to debate the merits of Thursday’s inbound E’ly swell, but with northerly gales expected across most coasts at the same time, you’re going to have difficulty finding protection.

The one area of interest is the Mid North Coast, especially locations south from Port Mac. The approaching trough will encroach this region during the day and could very well bring about periods of light variable winds. Though it’s less likely north of Port Mac and unlikely north of about Coffs or perhaps Yamba (until overnight anyway, when the trough will push north).

As for surf, the incoming E’ly swell should build to 3-4ft during the day in northern NSW, and (if you can decipher it from the building N’ly windswell) should reach 2-3ft in SE Qld. Size will then ease from this source into Friday. 

The local N’ly fetch will also generate a punchy windswell at the same time, and the models have strengthened it since Monday so I’ve upped my forecast to 4ft at some north-facing swell magnets by the afternoon (smaller on the Sunshine Coast due to the shorter fetch length).

However, Friday is where things really get interesting. 

The trough should reach the Gold Coast just before dawn, bringing about a moderate S/SE breeze and this will favour the points and protected southern ends for the best conditions. 

Although we’ll be on the backside of both the E’ly and N’ly swells, I’m expecting a little more size from the north early Friday than the models are banking on - early sets should be in the 2-3ft range at north facing swell magnets. In fact, a handful of locations around the Gold/Tweed Coast could push 3ft+ at times around dawn (it’ll be bigger overnight as the swell reaches a peak), though expect a steady decline at all locations throughout the morning, and very small conditions by early afternoon.

The S'ly change should reach the Sunshine Coast mid-morning, with variable winds prior. Wind strengths will ease across all coasts through the day but remain out of the S/SE. 

In addition to this easing swell combo, the Mid North Coast may pick up a small pulse of S’ly energy into the afternoon, from a brief low forming east of Bass Strait Thursday afternoon that’ll quickly whisk itself away to the east, lasting only a short duration within the swell window. However, it’ll be smaller than the pre-existing swells and will only favour south swell magnets. 

So, it'll be well worth a dawn patrol on Friday at any location well exposed to the north but also offering shelter from S'ly winds. 

This weekend (Oct 18 - 19)

The weekend looks a little average. 

Another trough will approach from the south, so we’re looking at NW tending N’ly winds Saturday and then fresh southerlies on Sunday. 

The small low in the Tasman late Thursday won’t really generate much swell for the region so we’re looking at residual energy from a couple of source, best suited to the open beaches with occasional 2ft sets under the brief morning NW breeze. 

Sunday’s S’ly change will be shallow and detached from the primary swell generating fetch (much further south, at Tamsanian latitudes), which will kick up a fresh south swell for Northern NSW, but probably not until the afternoon. And being accompanied by gusty side/onshore winds, quality will be low.

Let’s take a closer look on Friday.

Next week (Oct 20 onwards)

We’ve got a seemingly endless supply of Southern Ocean fronts moving through the lower Tasman Sea next week, which will supply back-to-back S’ly swells through into next weekend - though mainly for Northern NSW.

At this stage Monday and Tuesday are expected to see the most size with sets around 3-4ft+ at south facing beaches south of Byron but of course it’ll be much smaller elsewhere. Don’t expect much size in SE Qld from this source. 

Wave heights will ebb and flow for the rest of the week in the 3ft+ range as various pulses arrive and depart, and the swell direction will also tend S/SE as the storm track moves across into the eastern lower Tasman Sea. 

Otherwise, a ridge through the Coral Sea may supply some small trade swell for SE Qld next week but no major size is expected at this stage. 

More in Friday’s update.

Comments

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019 at 6:18pm

Love seeing those two little words, Coral Sea.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019 at 6:56pm

Even when they're preceded by "Nothing happening in the"...?

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019 at 7:12pm

Yep. It's a reminder that filthy Spring Northerlies must eventually give way.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019 at 6:57pm

2-3ft N'ly windswell on the Tweed this afternoon.

Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly commented Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019 at 10:17pm

Coming from S.A. it's still weird saying this but FUCK these northerlies!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019 at 10:47pm

I reckon Friday morning could change your mind. If done the right way, northerlies can deliver some really interesting, different surf options. Doesn't happen often but I'm quietly confident at the moment. 

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019 at 11:17pm

11:15pm surf check showing promise out of the NE.
​​​​​​​

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 8:01am

New E'ly swell swell showing nicely in Coffs (easy to see because the N'ly wind has eased right back, so there's less windswell noise on top).

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 8:58am

Hopefully a window tomorrow morning.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 4:06pm

Westerly change just belted through here and swell is in...off for the arvo...could be interesting...

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

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 4:49pm

Howling northerlies and 3-4ft windswell on the Tweed.. totally unsurfable but there is still good potential for the morning..

linez's picture
linez's picture
linez commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 5:25pm

Howling northerlies and 3-4 beers here..

linez's picture
linez's picture
linez commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 5:23pm

Decent line of storms coming through

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 6:12pm

ten minutes of lightning and thunder, about fifty raindrops. sun back out, northerly still howling.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 6:16pm

Ripper thunderstorms on the Tweed. Oh how I've missed 'em.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 6:37pm

Solid windswell peaks out off The Pass.

Strong overhead sets at Snapper (first one behind the rock).

D'Bah pulling in the lines too.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 6:43pm

3x2 steamer tmoro a.m.
Whats inshore water temps atm Bennie ?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 6:45pm

Haven't surfed since Monday, when it was pretty nice around 20 degrees. Might see some upwelling from these northerlies though.

P'tai's picture
P'tai's picture
P'tai commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 6:44pm

Westerly change came through suited up grabbed my board ran down to the beach paddled out, then turned strong SE everything turned ugly. Boo and Hiss huey!!

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 6:59pm

Not sure about other locations but the westerly came through here in a flash and blew the hottest, strongest wind I've felt in awhile. Still 33 degrees here now. Surf went from northerly junk to clean in maybe 10 minutes. Never seen it clean up so quick but then it got too strong and was near unsurfable. After the wind backed off a little got a local beachie on dead low tide throwing near dry sand pipes. Quite an afternoon of weather, waves and dramatic change. If this pattern is moving north I'd be getting up for the early if I were you. Hope everyone scores :-)

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

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 7:30pm

You must have been right on the cusp of the weather change Craig.

W'ly at Port Macquarie.
Still N'ly at Coffs.

It's funny to see this froth over a n'ly shit swell when this time last week we had a ruler edged 5 day S to SE groundswell and total radio silence in here.
I got out of the water late Sat and saw a 5 wave OH set pinwheeling down the Point, people getting barrelled on each wave and came home to check the report here just for giggles.
Ballina had a 4/10 rating.

In the middle of a really good May, which is what it looked like, it was a 7 or 8.
In the middle of October it was a 10/10.

I don't expect much here for tomorrow, still gusting 25knots N'ly and a real mess here.
And it the wind does swing overnight those wind swells fall away very quickly.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 7:59pm

Stoked that swell got up to you guys as forecast.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 8:03pm

it was like the May we never had.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 17 Oct 2019 at 10:00pm

Winds have been light W'ly at the Seaway since dinnertime, though most of the Northern Rivers is still fresh N'ly.

Plenty of swell at the Tweed buoy though.

Spectral data shows it's a mix of short period (5-7 second) N'ly swell and longer period (13-14 second) E/SE swell.

And the Surfers cam is showing some fun waves.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 18 Oct 2019 at 8:01am

Swell's dropping very quickly! Though there are still some fun waves at locations exposed to the north, but also protected from the S/SE breeze. Snapper looking fun:
​​​​​​​

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 18 Oct 2019 at 8:03am

1-2ft sideshore gurgle here, cold water and red cornflake weed everywhere.
for desperadoes only.
highlight was seeing what looked like an orca pod in the distance.

I honestly think you're better off surfing in the fetch during these n'ly windswells. at least you get the maximum size.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 18 Oct 2019 at 12:09pm

Didn't take long for the swell to flatten out!