Long run of southerly swell ahead

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 2nd December)

Best Days: Late Tues onwards: plenty of south swell with OK morning winds, biggest in Northern NSW. No real size in SE Qld until later Thurs onwards, and only then at south swell magnets. 

Recap: Saturday wasn’t great under a freshening N’ly airstream, but lighter winds Sunday allowed for small beach breaks in Northern NSW under a minor E’ly and N’ly swell, before the N’ly picked up again throughout the day. We’ve seen similarly small E’ly swells today at most beaches (1-2ft) but a N’ly windswell built to 2ft+ across several exposed north facing beaches (see D’Bah, below) and conditions have been better with NW winds tending W’ly. 

Fun D'Bah this afternoon

This week (Dec 3 - 6)

The fetch responsible for our (to date, slightly underperforming) distant E’ly swell held into the weekend and the models are suggesting we’ll see continuing small surf from this source into the middle of the week. It’s not worth getting too excited about though.

We have much more promising swell sources developing to the south, for Northern NSW anyway. A conveyor belt of fronts crossing the SE corner of the country will generate a series of overlapping southerly swells over the coming week, holding into the weekend.

And the good news is that a locally weak high pressure ridge will maintain light winds and sea breezes up until Friday. So conditions should be nice and clean each day (best in the mornings). 

Tuesday will see the first south swell, from SW gales exiting eastern Bass Strait this afternoon. South facing beaches south of Coffs should start to show a decent increase in size around lunchtime, reaching 3ft+ by late in the day, though we may not see a kick in size across Far Northern NSW until very late afternoon. Expect much smaller surf elsewhere, including SE Qld which (1) won’t like the swell direction and (2) won’t see the leading edge until after dinner time anyway. 

From here on, we’ll see a series of fluctuating southerly swells across the region. Getting the precise timing right is difficult because most days will see a combination of easing older energy and building new energy - and there’ll be a four-to-six hour timing different between the Lower Mid North Coast and the Far North Coast. So, there is no one-size-fits-all estimate for each day. 

Let us instead consider the overall trend. Every day is likely to see a peak in surf size - for a brief poeriod of time at least - about half a foot bigger than the last, with Friday on target for the most size - though being from the least favourable aligned fetch of the lot, may favour a much smaller number of south facing beaches.

So, expect size around or slightly north of 3ft each day (at south facing beaches south of Byron, smaller elsewhere), and we may see a brief peak both Thursday and Friday somewhere in the 4ft, maybe 4-5ft range at times. 

Across SE Qld, we’ll see the same size trend but with much smaller wave heights. Most beaches will struggle to pick up anything worthwhile, but south facing beaches and exposed northern ends should see 1-2ft waves mid-week, reaching 2-3ft later Thursday and Friday if we’re lucky. If anything, the Sunny Coast will probably be a little smaller than the Gold Coast. 

This weekend (Dec 7 - 8)

A trough developing off the coast on Saturday will bring southerly winds to Northern NSW during the day, though we’ll see freshening northerlies ahead of it in SE Qld (before the southerly breeze pushes north of the border on Sunday). 

As for surf, we’ve got plenty of south swell on the way. The final phase of the Long Wave Trough will push out from beneath the Tasmanian swell shadow later this week, delivering one last south swell for the weekend - building Saturday afternoon, peaking Sunday then easing throughout the day. 

At this stage we should see a peak around 4-5ft at south facing beaches south of Byron Bay, with smaller surf elsewhere and not a lot happening in SE Qld (1-2ft most beaches, though up to 3ft at exposed northern ends and south swell magnets). Expect smaller surf through Saturday morning ahead of the upwards trend - of which the Mid North Coast will pick up the new energy before the Far North Coast, and so on.

Sunday looks to be the pick at this stage with a peak in size, and generally favourable morning winds from the SW, though they will swing SE throughout the day. 

So all in all, a good weekend of south swell ahead, best suited to Northern NSW.

Next week (Dec 9 onwards)

Nothing to get excited about next week at this stage, with small local swells and variable conditions. A model trade flow is expected to develop way out in the South Pacific from Friday through the weekend but at this stage it doesn’t look strong enough to compensate for the enormous travel distance. 


Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Monday, 2 Dec 2019 at 9:13pm

How many swells over 4 foot from somewhere in the east quadrant have there been since Oma? Any?

curly2alex's picture
curly2alex's picture
curly2alex commented Monday, 2 Dec 2019 at 9:19pm

First few days in July good as it gets up here

big wave dave's picture
big wave dave's picture
big wave dave commented Tuesday, 3 Dec 2019 at 4:08pm

Hey - is my memory serving me right when Swellnet predicted the current SSW event would boost west winds and south swells on SE coasts?
Current conditions on MNC are unusual for this season - is SSW one factor?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 3 Dec 2019 at 4:55pm
freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 3 Dec 2019 at 4:39pm

where'd today's E swell come from?

was 3ft down here.

just a smidgin of S to wedge it up.

v. pleasant surprise.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Wednesday, 4 Dec 2019 at 2:42pm

I’ll go out on a limb here and say “from the east”!! ;)

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 4 Dec 2019 at 2:50pm

The east swell had been discussed in these notes since last Monday (a smaller swell from the early stages of the same system arrived over the weekend, though it was hard to notice beneath the N'ly noise).

Surfed some lovely glassy 2ft peaks this morning. Really nice shape, though it was fifteen minutes between sets so plenty of waiting around.  

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Tuesday, 3 Dec 2019 at 6:50pm

Few oily, shapely 2’ east peaks on the beachies here this arvo