A steady round of the usual summer fare
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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).
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!