Plenty of swell ahead, just gotta work around the winds
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 29th November)
Best Days: Sun: early window of lighter, more varibale winds (before the N'lies resume in the a'noon), mainly in Northern NSW. Small peaky mix of swells at exposed beaches. Possibly NW winds in SE Qld with small surf. Mon: building N'ly swell, best suited to the Gold and Tweed Coasts, winds veering NW through the day. Tues PM onwards; steadily building S'ly swell all week, largest around Fri/Sat.
Recap: Thursday delivered good S’ly swells across Northern NSW 3ith light winds and 3-4ft sets. SE Qld remained small with a mix of minor S’ly swell and distant E’ly swells. Wave heights eased overnight, and winds have freshened from the north today, rendering most spots very average to finish the working week. Though some locations did see a few hours of light winds at dawn, with a small peaky mix of swells in the water (see below, from Sunshine Beach).
This weekend (Nov 30 - Dec 1)
Fresh northerly winds will maintain quality issues across most locations into Saturday. We may see a brief window of NW winds early morning in SE Qld, but with only small residual surf on offer there’s not much to get exited about.
There is a minor new swell expected to push into the coast over the weekend though, and with a window of better conditions on offer for Sunday morning, it’ll be worth looking around the exposed beaches for a few waves.
The new swell will originate from a broad sub-tropical low well NE of New Zealand that’s been developing over the last day or two. It’s a little far away from the coast for my liking and not especially strong either, but we should see some slow, very inconsistent 2ft+ sets across exposed beaches across the weekend - more likely Sunday (afternoon) than Saturday, but definitely on some kind of upwards trend.
Local conditions look favourable for an early session too, thanks to a trough about Southern NSW on Saturday that will encroach the Mid North Coast into Sunday morning. This will disrupt the synoptic northerly flow and allow for a morning of variable winds, probably up as far as the Tweed Coast. Note: variable does mean “from any direction” - which could be onshore, though I suspect we’ll see some fun peaky beaches early morning south of the border. However, northerlies are likely to persist throughout SE Qld into Sunday morning, maybe NW early if we’re lucky. So expectations are lower here than in Northern NSW.
Redeveloping northerly winds are expected everywhere from lunchtime onwards so aim for a surf in the morning. There’ll also be some minor N’ly windswell in the mix too, around the 2ft+ mark across exposed southern ends of the SE Qld and Far Northern NSW coasts.
Also worth pointing out that a minor S’ly swell was expected to clip the NSW coast later today - it hasn’t really shown yet - but this may also be a small swell source for early Saturday at south facing beaches south of Byron.
Next week (Dec 2 onwards)
First up: we’ve got a small undercurrent of long range E’ly swell expected through the first half of next week, from the sub-tropical low NE of New Zealand. Set waves will be extremely inconsistent but could reach 2-3ft at exposed beaches every fifteen or twenty minutes. It's not worth getting excited about though - this is a low confidence, flukey swell event at best.
Now, the dominant feature for next week is an amplifying node of the Long Wave Trough across South-eastern Australia from Sunday evening onwards.
We’ve got plenty of south swell potential from this system from about Tuesday afternoon onwards, but it’ll also activate our northern swell window from Sunday into Monday, strengthening a broad N'ly thru' N/NW fetch through the Coral Sea (see below). Although the angle isn't perfect, the width and direction of this fetch is more than we normally see from pre-frontal systems, so I think we’re going to pick up some fun N’ly surf from this pattern.
Quality issues are centred around local winds. We should see a NW tendency through Monday in SE Qld, but it could be N’ly in the morning. As you head south from the border, wind strengths will be become lighter and more variable but the swell direction will be even more off-angle for this coast and thus surf size will be much smaller.
At this stage Monday afternoon is expected see the most size with 2-3ft sets at a handful of north-facing swell magnets across the southern Gold Coast and Tweed Coasts. Expect slightly smaller surf elsewhere, including the Sunshine Coast and anywhere south from Byron Bay. Surf size will then ease from overnight Monday onwards - Tuesday morning may see some smaller leftover sets but it’ll be quickly abating, so don’t expect much away from the swell magnets.
Looking to the south, and the LWT will slingshot a number of cold fronts into Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria over the course of several days early next week. This is expected to be a slow moving, powerful pattern and will generate large swells for many southern coasts.
In general, the primary storm track will probably remain just on the western side of the Tasmanian divide - i.e. just out of our swell window - so SE Qld won’t see much size at all, and Northern NSW will see smaller S’ly swell from more flukey sources, such as eastern Bass Strait and well south (or even south-west) of Tasmania.
But, the good news is that as the LWT slowly moves a little more to the east, we’ll see a more favourable development within our south swell window. So as a broad trend overview, we can expect surf and size prospects to get slowly bigger and better as the weak develops. Friday and Saturday have some decent size potential at this stage.
The first south swell will push through to the Mid North Coast on Tuesday afternoon (2-3ft+ south facing beaches south of Byron), reaching the remainder of the Northern NSW coast into Wednesday. A second pulse trailing immediately behind will deliver a little more size (3-4ft south facing) with a third swell on target for sometime Thursday, a little bigger again (3-5ft south facing south of Byron).
But the intensification of the primary low south of Tasmania around Wednesday is shaping up to deliver solid 4-6ft surf at south facing beaches (south of Byron) sometime later Friday or early Saturday. It’s even likely that strong S’ly swell (though a little smaller than the Fri/Sat swell) will persist through through the weekend as trailing fronts push through the lower Tasman Sea later next week.
It goes without saying that the flukey source of these southerly swells means (1) coverage will be erratic, even at 'reliable' south facing beaches, and (2) anywhere not open to the south will be considerably smaller. And north of the border won’t see much size away from exposed northern ends and south facing beaches, which may see a couple of feet mid-late next week, maybe 2-3ft Fri/Sat if we’re super lucky. I’ll firm up the timing in Monday’s update.
And of course, this is all quite different to the model guidance, which isn’t handling this pattern very well right now - but we’ll see a few changes over the coming days. So check back on Monday to see how the latest model runs are looking.
Have a great weekend, see you Monday!