Peaky mix of swells for most coasts, with variable conditions
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 27th March)
Best Days: Entire period: plenty of building E'ly swell throughout SE Qld and Far Northern NSW (biggest Sun/Mon): A little smaller south from Yamba (excluding an additional E/SE swell this weekend) but potentially wind affected south from Yamba at times on Sat and also Mon. Later next week/weekend looks interesting for exposed beaches with a small long period E'ly groundswell.
Recap: Small residual E’ly swells padded out SE Qld beaches for the last few days, as a series of S’ly swells eased, and then built across Northern NSW. Thursday managed 3ft+ sets at south facing beaches, rebuilding to 3-4ft+ today. Winds were an issue south of Yamba yesterday as a trough freshened southerlies, and the Sunshine Coast saw moderate S/SE tending E/SE winds, but locations between managed reasonable conditions. Today has however seen a brief period of early light winds become fresh S’ly across most regions, so only sheltered points have had favourable conditions.
This weekend (Mar 28 - 29)
A trough developed in the northern Tasman Sea on Thursday, and a high pressure system to the south is tightening a SE fetch through the central Tasman Sea.
This will generate some good E/SE swell for Northern NSW on Saturday and early Sunday, biggest across the Mid North Coast (3-4ft) and gradually decreasing size north from about Yamba - probably around the 2-3ft mark across Far Northern NSW and not a lot in SE Qld. There’ll also be some easing S’ly swell in the mix (3ft sets southfacnig beaches south of Byron).
Elsewhere, a strengthening ridge through the northern Tasman Sea and Coral Sea will building mid-range E’ly swells for SE Qld, from 2ft+ early Saturday up to 3-4ft into Sunday afternoon (models have fractionally eased broader winds strengths, so I’m keeping a lid on height expectations). This size range is for the exposed beaches so we’ll see smaller surf running down the points.
Surface conditions don’t look too bad this weekend though early Saturday is still at risk of seeing lingering S/SE winds across some exposed regions. However, we’ll see the coastal ridge ease in strength through the weekend and winds should become variable by Sunday. Note: variable doesn't necessarily mean offshore, so many locations will retain a wobble though the lineup, but it’ll be OK.
Next week (Mar 30 onwards)
Sunday’s building trade swell throughout SE Qld will reach a peak on Monday, up to 3-4ft+ at exposed beaches, smaller on the points. Early winds will be light but NE sea breezes are expected by lunchtime, holding through the afternoon. Easing size is expected from Tuesday (still 3ft+ early), and we’ll have workable options with generally light winds.
We’ll see a little less size from the trade swell as you head south from about Ballina or Yamba early next week, and the E/SE swell from the trough (Sat, early Sun) will be largely gone by this time. A bigger problem on Monday will be freshening northerly winds (likely NW early) but this will clear from Tuesday to become variable for the rest of the week under a broad, weak troughy pattern.
Otherwise the Tasman Sea looks a little dormant for most of next week with no significant weather systems expected to generate any notable surf. Some small S’ly swells may glance south swell magnets south of Byron throughout next week but no major size is expected.
It will however be worth keeping an eye on our far eastern swell window. Over the last few days a modest depression generated a small swell that will arrive around Wednesday, keeping exposed beaches flush with inconsistent 2ft surf into Thursday, but over the coming weekend a much stronger system will see core winds of up to 40-45kts, and this will supply a longer period swell arriving sometime around Friday with peak periods around 16 seconds.
The enormous travel distance will result in extremely infrequent sets, but they could be up into the 3-4ft+ range at times at some exposed coasts, holding through next weekend. Well worth monitoring over the coming days (as well as tracking surf conditions across New Zealand’s north-east and east coasts early-mid next week, for a heads up).
Stay safe, have a good weekend, see you Monday!