Lots of autumnal surf on the way
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 Wednesday 25th March)
Best Days: Most days should have plenty of swell at most coasts. Local winds will spoil conditions at some point Thursday (Mid North Coast) and Friday (remaining coasts) otherwise there'll be a broad range of options with variable winds most days.
Recap: Short-range S/SE swell and minor lingering trade swells have provided small surf throughout SE Qld for the last few days. A series of solid southerly swells built across Northern NSW through Tuesday before easing slowly today, reaching 4-5ft+ at their peak (at south facing beaches, south of Byron). Winds were moderate to fresh out of the south thru’ south-east on Tuesday (mainly north from Yamba), though locations south from here saw light variable winds and this has spread across across most regions today. In fact the Mid North Coast has seen freshening NE winds this afternoon though the afternoon breeze has been only light in the north.
This week (Mar 26 - 27)
A southerly change moved across Southern NSW today, and will nose into the Lower Mid North Coast on Thursday, reaching Port Macquarie mid-morning and Coffs Harbour mid-afternoon. We’ll see light winds ahead of the change, and anywhere north of about Yamba or Ballina should see variable conditions for much of the day.
As for surf, a weak ridge through the Northern Tasman Sea will maintain minor trade swells for SE Qld over the coming days. The ridge will rebuild across the lower Coral Sea into Friday, and we’re looking at a weekend of larger surf from this region, but no major size increase is expected on Friday (though, winds will slowly freshen from the SE through the day, deteriorating open beaches from about mid-morning onwards). Surf size should manage slow 2ft, peaky sets at most open beaches, smaller on the points.
Otherwise, we have more southerly swell on the way - but mainly for Northern NSW.
There’s a modest fetch trailing the southerly change pushing up along the NSW coast right now, but it’s loosely attached to a stronger low/front combo pushing through the lower Tasman Sea. The associated storm track isn’t perfect by any means, but we’ll see a decent S’ly groundswell build later Thursday and holding into Friday.
However, there will be a few additional swell trains in the water too.
Our existing south swell will ease slowly through Thursday, but the approaching S’ly change will concurrently build short range S/SE swell across the Mid North Coast, extending into remaining Northern NSW coasts on Friday, (nothing special, say 3ft+ at south facing beaches south of Byron).
More interesting is a potential long period swell that was generated in an acute region of our distant swell window earlier in the week, below Western Australia. It’s not viewed as a particularly reliable source but nevertheless, with core winds up over 50kts, we may see some larger peak swell period values at the wave buoys (modeled estimating a steady climb from 12.5 seconds to 14.8 seconds throughout the day, as per Northern Beaches data below) and this may translate to larger sets glancing a handful of reliable south swell magnets and offshore bombies.
So, ballpark size is around 3ft Thursday at south facing beaches, building to 3-4ft+ late (mainly Mid North Coast) and holding at this size range into Friday. Across SE Qld I'm not expecting any size away from exposed northern ends and south facing beaches (which may pick up occaisonal 2ft+ sets).
Additionally, Thursday’s southerly change will weaken into a broad trough across the central/northern Tasman Sea, and a building ridge of high pressure to the south will freshen a SE tending E’ly flow across its southern flank. So, on top of the various south swells on Friday, we’ll see a mid-range SE swell in the water (say, 3-4ft sets). This will be biggest across the Mid North Coast, smaller to the north.
Friday’s winds will freshen from the SE across all coasts but quite a few regions should see an early slack period. So this will offer the best conditions.
This weekend (Mar 28 - 29)
So, the broad trough developing in the central/northern Tasman Sea over the coming days will slowly move to the west, and envelop the greater East Coast into the weekend. This should allow local winds to ease on Saturday; still light to maybe moderate onshore at times, but with extended periods of variable conditions.
A building ridge through the Northern Tasman Sea will eventually push back into the coast and this will bring about a freshening of onshore winds, probably on Sunday - though the morning should again see pockets of light winds in many areas. The afternoon winds will be NE across the Mid North Coast, E/NE across the Northern Rivers and more E’ly throughout SE Qld.
As for surf, we’ll see a mix of swells on Saturday throughout Northern NSW. Easing S’ly swells (from Friday), steady SE swell (from the small trough) and a building E’ly trade swell will all combine to produce 3ft sets at most open beaches, building to 3-4ft on Sunday as the trade swell comes to the fore.
Across SE Qld, we’ll see a similar trend, but with a little more size thanks to a closer proximity to the Northern Tasman/Coral Sea ridge. Size should be up to 3-5ft at open beaches by Sunday (smaller Saturday, say 3ft early and 3-4ft late) but it’ll be smaller running along the points.
Next week (Mar 30 onwards)
The ridge through the Coral Sea/Northern Tasman Sea will weaken early next week, so wave heights will pull back a bit but we should see Sunday’s size hold into early Monday before easing to 3-4ft Tuesday and then 3ft+ Wednesday and Thursday. Plenty of punchy options for the beaches and a wide variety of surf across the outer points.
Additionally, a much larger but very distant system currently developing in the Far South Pacific, well to the E/NE of New Zealand, will maintain smaller but longer period background energy through the week.
As a side note, model guidance has a late Sunday arrival (MNC) of small long period S’ly swell from a polar low below the continent this week (see below) but I’m not confident of any worthwhile size. Fleeting lows passing well south of Tasmania may also kick up minor southerly swells throughout next week but it’s not looking like we’ll see much size at this stage.
See you Wednesday!