thermalben

A steady round of the usual summer fare

UNLESS YOU LIVE AT THE BEACH, PLEASE DON'T TRAVEL TO SURF

COVID-19 is changing the way we think about surfing. Travelling to the surf now means you're putting an unnecessary strain on the resources of small regional communities. So, please stay home. If you live near the beach and want to surf, please maintain a healthy spacing in the lineup, don't hang in the carpark, and keep your surf sessions shorter to allow others the opportunity to get wet. Above all, stay happy, healthy and look out for one another.

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 21st February)

Best Days: Most days: plenty of fun trade swell, though winds will be an issue over the weekend. Early next week looks to be the pick. A small, interesting S'ly swell is also due Tues/Wed (Northern NSW) and then the longer term outlook has a few quirky options out of the east. 

Recap: S’ly winds spread across all coasts on Thursday, as SE and E’ly swells wound back a touch through the morning, ahead of a late pulse of new S’ly swell across the Mid North Coast. Today has seen lighter winds (though still average in some regions, mainly exposed parts of SE Qld and Far Northern NSW) with a mix of small new E’ly swell and a brief peak of punchy S’ly swell that reached 3-5ft across exposed regions. Even D’Bah managed a few 3ft+ sets this morning (see below).

D'Bah looking mighty fine this morning

This weekend (Feb 22 - 23)

Today’s S’ly swell should ease back steadily into Saturday, but we’ll see a little more oomph from the new E’ly swell.

Set waves will be very inconsistent, but occasionally 3ft+ at exposed beaches. Expect a fraction more size for the easing south swell (early morning) south of Byron - say 3-4ft at reliable south swell magnets - before it abates to 2-3ft by the afternoon. Surf size in Northern NSW will be smaller away from those beaches with good southerly exposure.

The main issue we’ll see on Saturday will be freshening SE winds as a developing Tasman high pressure system pushes a ridge on to the coast. A few locations may see early pockets of light S’ly winds, but for the most part expect the open beaches to be pretty wobbly.

These winds will persist into Sunday, swinging a little more to the E/SE, and I’m doubtful that we’ll see any localised light wind pockets (though, it can’t be ruled out across the southern Gold Coast, and also the Mid North Coast). 

However, we will see a building trade swell all weekend from this developing ridge that’ll initially favour SE Qld and Far Northern NSW into Saturday before spreading further south into the Mid North Coast on Sunday. No major size is likely but we’ll see size pushing 2-3ft+ from this source by Sunday (biggest north of the border), as the distant E’ly swell source starts to wind back in size.

So, there’ll be waves both days, just don’t expect anything amazing. 

Next week (Feb 24 onwards)

The stationary ridge across the Northern Tasman Sea will supply steady mid-range E’ly swells through Monday and Tuesday, before wave heights start to slowly ease from about Wednesday onwards. Exposed SE Qld and Far Northern NSW beaches should push 3ft, maybe 3-4ft at times, with smaller waves running down the points, and surf size will be a little smaller south from about Yamba or Coffs.

Local conditions look like they’ll improve during the period, as the ridge retreats to the east and a weak trough develops along the coast. Onshores are still possible at some point each day, but on the balance there’ll be a more widespread coverage of light variable pockets, allowing fun, lumpy conditions at times. 

N’ly winds will freshen across the Mid North Coast on Wednesday but at this stage they’re not expected to have much influence north from Ballina or Byron. 

Also in the water from late Monday (Lower Mid North Coast) through Tuesday and Wednesday is a flukey long range S’ly groundswell, sourced from an active though poorly aligned storm track below the continent over the coming days. 

The only reason I’m expecting any potential surf is because most of the fetch associated with this pattern is expected to remain below 50S, which is just inside our acute long range south swell window. Most beaches won’t see much from this pattern but reliable south swell magnets south of Byron could pick up occasional 2-3ft waves every fifteen or twenty minutes. 

Looking further ahead, and a series of strong Southern Ocean fronts will generate southerly swells later next week and through the weekend (best prospects from Saturday). It’s still quite some time away though, so we’ll take a closer look on Monday. 

Also, the models are suggesting a tropical low will drop south from a position near Samoa next week, and take up residence well east from New Zealand mid-late week, which should set up another interesting long range E’ly groundswell for the early to middle part of the following week (say, around March 3/4). Early indications are for long lined sets in the 3-4ft range, but I’ll have more details on that on Monday. 

Lastly, there's a good chance we'll see local troughiness in the western Tasman Sea around this time generate a sizeable, punchy local swell of some description, somewhere along the East Coast (broad brushstrokes, I know.. but it’s too early to have confidence where/when etc). 

So there's plenty to look forward to in the longer term outlook.

Have a great weekend!

Comments

NoUseforaName's picture
NoUseforaName's picture
NoUseforaName commented Friday, 21 Feb 2020 at 7:52pm

Thanks Ben. Not expecting much so expectations are low. Sometimes that’s all it takes to feel the stoke. A couple of turns on a mush burger can be enough. Really making an effort to get in the water as much as possible. Gotta keep my old man shoulders rolling over so I’m ready when it gets good again. Stay agile fellow old blokes.

tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir commented Friday, 21 Feb 2020 at 10:03pm

Nice write-up Ben. Will force myself into a grovel tomorrow.

fcalmon's picture
fcalmon's picture
fcalmon commented Saturday, 22 Feb 2020 at 7:33am

Hi Ben, really enjoy your forecasts and I would like to get some more knowledge on weather. Manly to be able to understand better all the terms you use and for my own enjoyment. Is there anywhere you would recommend to start learning?

90% of what you know was told to you....

dez's picture
dez's picture
dez commented Saturday, 22 Feb 2020 at 10:35am

Probably better to leave this one to the expert(s) to answer. I've been reading Surf Science and found it to be a fantastic book so far.

Reading the forecast notes and cross-reference with charts is also great.

Curious to see what Ben might reccomend though.

fcalmon's picture
fcalmon's picture
fcalmon commented Monday, 24 Feb 2020 at 11:17am

Thanks Dez, I will give that a go.

90% of what you know was told to you....

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Saturday, 22 Feb 2020 at 4:04pm

Access G painting a very interesting picture.

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted commented Saturday, 22 Feb 2020 at 4:42pm

No grovel today on the MNC, some nice little peaks.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 10:21am

High tide and odd banks are suggesting the Pass is more of a fat left peak.

And I'm still bemused how all kinds of powered and unpowered boats navigate through the maze of surfers to and from the ramp.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 9:51pm

At this stage, I mean, why not boats of all sorts? I saw an inflatable unicorn out at Grove last summer...

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 10:44am

looks' like Uesi knocked the bank out.

tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 4:02pm

Nationals was surprisingly good on the incoming tide this morning. Only a few out, managed quite a few knee-high runners on my mini-mal.

Willy showing some light southerlies tomorrow AM - might equate to a fun morning of beachies if the swell holds on.

Poto74's picture
Poto74's picture
Poto74 commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 6:52pm

Onshores all weekend in this part of the world. Water quality terrible too

tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 8:35pm

SC wave buoy @ 2m swh, Weird, considering it's only 3ft from what I've seen, whereas the days before Uesi it was hovering around 1.5m and the beachies were pushing 4-5ft.

Presumably something to do with the swell source?

Troppo's picture
Troppo's picture
Troppo commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 9:03pm

yep tomrnoir, wave period has a lot to do with it. Swell size with longer period is groundswell, more significant waves.
Whereas in current situation we have similar swell size with short wave period = choppy wind swell.
Current east coast period is circa 7-8 seconds. Uesi swell was circa 11-12 seconds. Big difference in wave quality.
Those mega swells that hit Cloudbreak and Indo blow out to circa 20 seconds period. Solid waves!

tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir's picture
tomrnoir commented Sunday, 23 Feb 2020 at 9:20pm

Mate, this is just the clarification I was after. I greatly appreciate it! Yeeeeeeewwwww

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Monday, 24 Feb 2020 at 12:13pm

Swell period is more of your friend than swell height on the wave buoys!!

lilas's picture
lilas's picture
lilas commented Monday, 24 Feb 2020 at 6:08pm

Yes....I didn't really get things until I understood wave period. It's everything, and swell net should do a great article to educate us all. They'd get a lot less of the same questions over and over.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Monday, 24 Feb 2020 at 2:07pm

Well well most models aligning with Access G now with potential flooding rains coming our way again later in the forecast period.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 24 Feb 2020 at 6:19pm

swell period is the least important variable in this part of the world.

swell direction and bathymetry far more important.