thermalben

Prolonged period of poor winds, despite an abundance of swell

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 17th January)

Best Days: No great days due to poor winds. Which is a shame, as there are plenty of waves on tap throughout the forecast period, including some impressive long period E/SE groundswell later next week across SE Qld

Recap: E’ly trade swell has maintained 2-3ft+ surf across most SE Qld and Far northern NSW beaches, with slightly smaller surf south of Yamba. A small long period S’ly swell added occasional 2-3ft sets into the mix across Northern NSW today. Winds have been mainly NE, creating bumpy conditions at many coasts, though there have been pockets of light variable conditions scattered here and there. Nice to see some rain too!

This weekend (Jan 18 - 19)

There’s no major changes to be made to the weekend outlook. 

NE winds will remain entrenched across the coast, as a stationary high in the eastern Tasman Sea interacts with a broadening trough of low pressure across the south-western Tasman Sea. 

There are a couple of possible exceptions to this scenario though. The trough off Southern NSW will influence the northern Hunter region and this may extend northwards into the lower Mid North Coast on Saturday.

Additionally, some high res models is intensifying a small surface trough north-east of Brisbane on Saturday, which may enhance the NE thru’ E’ly wind field across the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers, but may also lead to a period of variable winds across the Sunshine Coast. 

But, these are all outliers within an otherwise prolonged period of broadly unfavourable synoptic winds. 

As for surf, we’ll see a continuation of trade swells all weekend in and around the 2-3ft range, building a little into Sunday afternoon thanks to a secondary trade swell source developing north of New Zealand today. This should reach 3-4ft across most coasts. Additionally, the enhanced NE thru’ E’ly flow adjacent the northern region on Saturday has the potential to add another foot or two of local windswell into the mix. 

Also in the mix over the weekend will be a fresh southerly swell, originating from the present trough off Southern NSW, of which its southern extent will reach as far south as about 55S during the weekend (about mid-way between Tasmania and Antarctica) however wind strengths will be only modest. The resulting surf size will max out at about 2-3ft+ across Northern NSW’s south facing beaches (south of Byron), peaking Sunday.

Next week (Jan 20 onwards)

The latest model guidance has swung next week’s persistent NE airstream around to more of a straight N’ly direction, at least across SE Qld and Far Northern NSW.

We’ll see N/NE winds across the Mid North Coast, and persistent troughiness across Southern NSW next week may continue to periodically influence this region with patches of light varibale winds (later Tues/Wed looking OK at this stage, and then again around Fri).

As for surf, there won’t be any shortage of energy in the water. 

The weekend’s south swell will be mostly gone by Monday, but we’ll see plenty of easterly quadrant swell from the South Pacific, sourced from a strengthening trade flow in response to TC Tino moving south from the tropics.  

Unfortunately, I am still not expecting TC Tino to align favourably within our swell window at first. 

It’s a large system and will probably reach Cat 2 status over the coming days, but it'll travel perpendicularly through our swell window, and a strong ridge of high pressure to the east will ensure its eastern flank has the strongest winds, and they’ll be aimed towards New Zealand. The other strong flank (western) will be aimed towards Vanuatu.

We’ll still pick up some useful E’ly swell from the supporting ridge to the south (so not cyclone swell, per se), but most open beaches will probably max out at an inconsistent 3-4ft, maybe 3-5ft. But with the accompanying N’ly thru’ NE winds, options will be limited. 

However, TC Tino will undergo extratropical transition east of New Zealand early next week and broaden into an incredible sub-tropical low (see below). Whilst it’ll mainly be located in the NZ swell shadow at this time, we’ll see a reasonable spread of E/SE groundswell diffract around the North Island.

This swell will only favour the extreme northern end of the East Coast (south of the Barrier Reef), and the models are still not really liking this system - but with 50-60kt at the core of the sub-tropical low, we’ll be looking at peak swell periods of around 16-17 seconds arriving Thursday, with swell energy peaking Friday. So, I think it's worth monitoring closely for surf potential.

As for how much size - well, as I mentioned on Wednesday, had this system been positioned ten degrees further north, with a better alignment through our swell window (i.e. more E'ly than SE), there wouldn’t be much change out of 10-15ft across some locations. But, the poor location/angle and considerable travel distance will shave off a lot of size. Furthermore, wave heights will decrease with increasing southerly latitude.

So, we’ll need to fine tune things on Monday but for now let’s peg size peaking around 4-5ft+ across parts of the Sunshine Coast, then 3-5ft from the Gold Coast down to about Ballina, and then 3ft+ south to the Lower Mid North Coast. Also, set waves will be extremely inconsistent owing to the large distance between the swell source and the mainland.

But will it matter if there’s a fresh northerly breeze accompanying this swell event? That’s the current indication from the model guidance.

So, keep your expectation low, and we'll have a much better idea on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Current JTWC track for TC Tino

Comments

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Friday, 17 Jan 2020 at 7:18pm

Is it fcking Autumn yet!!!

NoUseforaName's picture
NoUseforaName's picture
NoUseforaName commented Friday, 17 Jan 2020 at 7:40pm

Late morning. Lower sunny coast. Rain so hard couldn’t see 10 feet. Wind goes offshore. One hour of Super clean 3 foot peaks. Then the nor’easter kicks back in. Best surf I’ve had in 3 months although my standards are really low because it has been absolutely shitaz around here. Hoping for a few more windows to align over the next week around work. Now. Beer.

adsi's picture
adsi's picture
adsi commented Friday, 17 Jan 2020 at 8:18pm

Gee might fly over to east coast NZ

Troppo's picture
Troppo's picture
Troppo commented Friday, 17 Jan 2020 at 9:56pm

worth a flight to Vanuatu or Solomons?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 7:33am

Staggering rainfall totals across SE Qld this morning. Most of the Gold Coast has happened since about midnight.. we're currently sitting at:

Loder Ck Dam - 302mm
Carrara - 270mm
Seaway - 230mm
Burleigh Waters - 235mm

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 7:35am

wow. thats huge.
40mm in the gauge here, which I thought was amazing.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 7:44am

Sunshine Coast not quite as high but still incredible:

Maroochydore Depot - 170mm
Sunshine Coast Airport - 141mm
Coolum - 132mm

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 7:47am

And across the Northern Rivers (it's pouring on the Tweed right now), we're sitting at:

Tumbulgum - 133mm
Clothiers Creek - 132mm
Bilambil Heights - 118mm

The Lower Clarence Valley also has some amazing totals:

Pillar Valley - 238mm
Grafton Airport - 132mm

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 7:59am

Ben where do you get those rainfall figures from?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 8:07am
Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 8:17am

Thank you mate

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 7:54am

They were very shortly heading to level 3-4 water restrictions in Tweed Shire. This will help a lot.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 8:08am

As I said on the other thread...it’s worth repeating.

Still less than a mm here.

Keep thinking “ Here it comes !” And then .....nothing.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 10:07am

Great rain tanks are full.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 10:27am

F'real? Is that the kind of one-off event it takes? Was always curious how much it might take to top 'em up.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 10:51am

They were about 5 corro ribs from empty, now the same from full, 10,000L tanks. Got over 150mm according to a few mates backyard rain gauges.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 10:28am

100+ in a few hours will do it.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 12:11pm

probably gunna happen

simba

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 12:32pm

That rain band has reached my little neck of the woods on the MNC, and it's starting to hammer down. The troughiness has led to no wind for the past 24hrs, so some fun little east swell peaks this morning too. From what I can tell Blowin, we're in the sameish region, you must be starting to see some rain now?

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 12:39pm

Been pouring coffs and wind has been southish

simba

riley.willemse's picture
riley.willemse's picture
riley.willemse commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 1:17pm

Scored some good double ups early through greenmount with that SW wind. 10 guys out for about an hour before the crowds came. I had a 4 turn wave. First time in about 6 months. Might get me through another week of northelies.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 5:22pm

Scored the same window with our developed Jono. Clean 3ft sets and some good double ups and before the crowds. Score!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 2:18pm

pure gurgle here

glad I sweated my arse off and got that onion weed out of the veggie garden beds before this rain though.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 5:41pm

Onshore mush on the Tweed Coast for much of the day, but I drove south from Burleigh and the Goldy was nice and clean.

Looks like the local troughy anomalies mentioned in the notes spread a little further south (i.e Sunshine Coast through to the Gold Coast) and also north (from the lower Mid North Coast, into the remaining MNC) than expected.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 9:53pm

I went up to the Goldy late arvo after noiticing the winds were S’ly up there. Arrived literally as the wind did almost a 180 deg reversal and 15knt NEs kicked in turning it to complete shite.

Mata's picture
Mata's picture
Mata commented Saturday, 18 Jan 2020 at 9:55pm

4-6ft east swell, light northwest offshore winds, ebbing tide

_Bodhi_'s picture
_Bodhi_'s picture
_Bodhi_ commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 10:28am

Hi Ben, the last decent swell we had was from TC Sansai & I think the predicted winds were quite mediocre (i.e. northerly), yet there were moments when the winds were okay on the GC. Do you think this next Swell from TC tino will be something similar or the winds are going to be more crap? Cheers mate

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:07pm

TBH I really need to sit back and start again with the wind outlook. This weekend's dynamic trough setup has disrupted the local atmosphere quite a bit so previous broad assumptions for the next week or so need to be scrutinised in more detail.

And the swell outlook from TC Tino isn't a sure bet either. We are more likely to see trade swell from the supporting ridge more than anything else.

_Bodhi_'s picture
_Bodhi_'s picture
_Bodhi_ commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:15pm

Okay, thanks mate.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 10:34am

Pumping morning of surf. Glassy and clean 3-4ft peaks with a scattered crowd around 10. 

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 4:34pm

Yep pumping low tide peaks, couple of chunky sets.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 10:40am

Same here, no wind. Peaky 3 foot + beachbreaks with no one.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:03pm

Super fun 3-4ft, clean though lumpy surf, lots of chip shot entries and nice bowly sections. Wind has come up now though.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:17pm

Hmmm

Dannon's picture
Dannon's picture
Dannon commented Monday, 20 Jan 2020 at 5:43am

Hmmm, i'll pass.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:23pm

2-3ft gurgle here

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:48pm

The odd one but not real flash at all.
Lumps in front of lumps.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:48pm

Was a lot better than gurgle where I surfed.
Clean, punchy peaks.
Open stretch with decent length lefts and short bowly rights

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:50pm

Plenty of size coming through now, Snapper looks 3-4ft. Shame about the wind.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 12:50pm

Doesn't seem to be a whole heap of wind at Byron though (it's freshening on the Tweed).

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 6:36pm

Snapper looking beyond dogshit this afternoon (I believe that is the technical term).

Strange thing is, there's a similar number of people in the water as there were last Monday afternoon.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 8:05pm

Dunno Ben the onshore snapper pic looks like fun double up's to me.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Jan 2020 at 8:15pm

Actually, I'd have to agree. Almost looks alright.

rj-davey's picture
rj-davey's picture
rj-davey commented Monday, 20 Jan 2020 at 8:16am

nice