Plenty of south swell ahead
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 16th December)
Best Days: Late Tues (MNC) thru' Wed (elsewhere): nice S/SE swell for Northern NSW, only small in SE Qld. Mon/Tues/Wed: long period S'ly swells, best suited to Northern NSW.
Recap: Small easterly swells provided just-rideable options at exposed beaches on Saturday morning under a light variable breeze, before winds came up from the NE from late morning onwards. Sunday was small and weak with minor windswells and mainly N’ly winds. We’ve seen a small NE swell across the coast today, generated by a fetch off the SE Qld overnight, and set waves have pushed 2ft+ at a handful of exposed beaches (see surfcam shots from The Pass the afternoon, below). A S’ly change reached Byron around lunchtime and is now quite gusty across most regions.
This week (Dec 17 - 20)
A small Tasman Low related to today’s southerly change is developing upon approach to New Zealand’s West Coast (see below).
A reasonable southerly fetch is forming around the low, but unfortunately it's happening through the latter stages of its path through our favourable southern swell window. As such we’re not looking at a terribly large event, but there will be some fun waves.
It’s also important to distinguish between individual swell trains. A short but robust fetch trailing today’s change is already generating S’ly windswells for Northern NSW (see image below from Coffs Harbour a short time ago, easy 3ft+ sets) and this will fill into remaining coasts overnight, though we won’t see much size in SE Qld because of the S'ly direction and low period.
S/SE swell from the parent low will arrive later tomorrow (mainly Mid North Coast) and should reach a peak in size early Wednesday everywhere else.
Therefore, with mainly easing SE winds on offer, Tuesday isn’t worth getting too excited about in most regions. If anything, the Mid North Coast should see a little less wind strength and possible pockets of SW winds. Early southerly winds across the southern Gold Coast will favour the outer points but there won’t be much size on offer, maybe a few slow two foot sets if you're lucky. Expect smaller surf on the Sunshine Coast.
The new S/SE swell pushing through later Tuesday (Mid North Coast) and Wednesday morning (everywhere else) looks much better. We’ll see light variable winds and sea breezes over much of the Northern NSW coast, and an early peak around 4-5ft at south facing beaches south of Byron Bay, with smaller surf elsewhere.
Far Northern NSW will be under a synoptic SE flow but we’ll see early SW winds across several regions. So there’ll be good waves for the early session.
Across SE Qld, surf size will be much smaller, but some of the outer Gold Coast points may push 2ft, almost 2-3ft at times and we’ll see bigger though much more wind affected waves at exposed northern ends. Expect slightly smaller surf overall across the Sunshine Coast.
Thursday will then see a steadily decline in surf size as winds swing to the north, mainly in Northern NSW to begin with but by Friday it’ll be entrenched across the entire region. As such, the end of the week’s looking pretty average but early Thursday should have workable options at south facing beaches south of Byron, and perhaps a few small waves at exposed northern ends in SE Qld.
A small E’ly swell will be in the mix later this week, but having been sourced from distant trades south of Tahiti it’ll be weak and inconsistent.
This weekend (Dec 21 - 22)
Saturday looks craptacular with northerly winds right across the coast and small residual swells at most beaches.
A small, flukey south swell will glance exposed south swell magnets south of Byron during the day but will have been generated by a poorly aligned front south of Tasmania (on Thursday) so I am not expecting much more than a stray 2ft+ set at a handful of beaches.
Northerly winds will persist about SE Qld into Saturday but an approaching trough will disrupt the synoptic breeze in Northern NSW (up to about Ballina) and create light variable winds, possibly even a S’ly change in a few regions.
As it is, there won’t be much swell on offer, just a small mix of residual swells from the south, some new short range energy from the potential change, and some minor long range E’ly trade swell energy.
So for now, keep your expectations low both days.
Next week (Dec 23 onwards)
We’ve got a couple of stages of solid, long period S’ly swell expected next week, originating from a large Southern Ocean low south of Tasmania over the weekend (see below).
The first will move across Northern NSW on Monday, but it’ll be very flukey in direction (as it’ll have been sourced from SW of Tasmania, in a remote part of our far south swell window). Set waves should build into the 3-5ft range at south facing beaches south of Byron, but it’ll a lot smaller elsewhere. I am not expecting much surf to reach SE Qld, away from a handful of south swell magnets and exposed northern ends where we may see occasional 2ft sets.
The next swell is due to arrive overnight Monday into Tuesday, potentially holding through early Wednesday, and at this stage we’re looking at another broad spread in size thanks to the slightly unfavourable alignment of the low - but it’ll be slow moving, and should nudge surf size into the 5-6ft+ range at south facing beaches south of Byron. Everywhere not completely exposed to the south will be much smaller. There'll be a broader range in surf size than usual for this event.
SE Qld won’t see anywhere near as much size but there is a chance for inconsistent 2-3ft sets at outer Gold Coast points (smaller on the Sunshine Coast).
It’s still quite some time away, so check back on Wednesday for an update on this event as it’s looking very promising at this stage for some parts of the East Coast.. hopefully yours!