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.
This week (Oct 16 - 17)
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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.