Two weeks or more of northerly winds - yikes!
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 18th November)
Best Days: No great days ahead. South swell magnets in Northern NSW with protection from northerly winds will have small waves all week, biggest Thursday, but conditions really will be very tricky.
Recap: Saturday didn’t offer much in the way of quality surf thanks to mainly onshore winds, but Sunday delivered some fun lines of S’ly swell around 3ft across Northern NSW with early light winds swinging N’ly ahead of some impressive afternoon thunderstorms and an overnight S’ly change. Today has seen the S’ly swell persist around 3ft at south facing beaches south of Byron, with problematic winds north form Yamba but light variable winds and sea breezes south from Coffs. Unfortunately, the entire period has been very small and lacklustre in SE Qld, though today did see some short range S’ly swell across south facing stretches.
This week (Nov 19 - 22)
It’s a pretty depressing surf outlook if you consider just the winds on their own.
SE Qld and Far Northern NSW are staring down the barrel (or lack thereof, boom-tish) of more than two weeks of northerlies, thanks to an entrenched high pressure system in the Tasman Sea, and weak troughiness over Southern NSW.
The Mid North Coast will see brief reprive in the form of a day here or there with light variable winds, but the flip side is that the northerly airstream will otherwise be stronger here than its northern counterpart.
So yeah, not a great outlook ahead.
In particular, we can almost write off the entire week for SE Qld. Aside from small local windswell over the next few days, the only real swell source is a slowly building trade swell from about Friday onwards that’ll be wrecked by northerly winds.
We do have some southerly swell on the way though, so Northern NSW will have workable options this week for keen surfers. Just keep in mind the likely upwelling from this extended pattern: water temps could drop quite a few degrees by the weekend and early next week.
From a swell source perspective, we’ve actually got a steady pattern of broad though poorly aligned fronts below Tasmania that will generate plenty of swell for the Tasman Sea this week, not dissimilar to recent swell events. At this stage we’re looking at three or four individual pulses, with very late Wednesday (Lower Mid North Coast) and Thursday (everywhere else) probably seeing the biggest and best surf from this pattern.
An existing round of energy across Southern NSW today should hold into Tuesday across Northern NSW, up to 2-3ft across south facing beaches south of Byron. Wave heights will ease through the afternoon but another pulse is expected on Wednesday that’ll favour south swell magnets with a similar size range into the afternoon (wave heights may be undersized early morning, especially in the north).
Thursday’s southerly swell should push 3-4ft at south facing beaches south of Byron, before easing during the day. This swell will have been generated by a broad (though poorly aligned) front south of Tasmania on Tuesday (see below), of which its parent low well to the south is expected to stall and then briefly slingshot through our far southern swells window (see below), generating another pulse of S’ly swell for Friday.
There’s a considerably larger travel distance for this last round of energy (compared to the southerly swells prior this week) but the periods should draw out a little longer and south facing beaches should pick up some 3ft+ sets - though it’ll be much less consistent than any other day this week.
At this stage every day except Wednesday (which may see brief offshores) is expected to see fresh N’ly winds, in fact they’ll become strong Thurs/Fri and we’ll see some punchy local windswell at NE swell magnets to finish the working week. So, it’ll be hard going but there’ll be waves around.
But if you’ve got other things to do this week, they’re probably more worthy of your attention.
This weekend (Nov 18 - 19)
The weekend looks pretty average at this stage.
Friday’s southerly swell will slowly ease through Saturday, and we’re looking at moderate N’ly winds both days in SE Qld (lighter in the mornings), fresh and gusty south from Yamba.
We’ll see trade swell building to 2-3ft across SE Qld, mainly the Sunshine Coast, with smaller surf south from the Gold Coast. This swell will be generated by the northern flank of the Tasman high, but local winds will generally spoil conditions.
Local N’ly winds will otherwise maintain small peaky windswells across Northern NSW both days.
There is one other system to keep an eye on in the updated forecasts this week - an intense low passing south of Tasmania around Thursday. Despite core wind speeds of 50kts+, it looks even less favourably aligned than anything else developing this week, so confidence is pretty low we’ll see any energy glance the NSW coast.
But, it can’t be ruled out - so I’ll put an asterisk down for Sunday, and revise this in Wednesday’s notes.
But really, it's not a weekend to get excited about.
Next week (Nov 20 onwards)
Nothing of interest showing on the long term outlook at this stage.