Extended run of tricky surf conditions, but there'll be waves
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 3rd April)
Best Days: Sat/Sun: flukey east swell prospects but there's a few pockets of workable winds. Mon onwards: small E'ly swells with ideal winds for the points. Fri onwards: solid S'ly swells for a few days.
Recap: Small surf has padded out most beaches for the last few days, and northerly winds have created problems on the surface today (yesterday saw light morning winds and afternoon sea breezes in most spots). A new long period E’ly swell arrived today with peak swell periods just north of 16 seconds, and although we’ve seen a slight increase in size throughout the day, set waves are only just starting to push north of 2ft and near 2-3ft (see below from Coolum, a few minutes ago).
This weekend (Apr 4 - 5)
Northerlies winds will generally cause problems across many coasts on Saturday.
A few locations should see N/NW winds at times, and the Mid North Coast is likely to experience a relaxing of wind strength into the afternoon and a possible NW thru’ W’ly change, but otherwise expect bumpy conditions at open beaches and limited options at protected northern corners.
The new long period E’ly swell its modeled to reach a theoretical peak tomorrow (poor timing with the wind, unfortunately) and although it’s not showing especially strong right now, I don’t have any reason to downgrade the size outlook - a handful of beaches could see occasional sets in the 3ft, almost 3-4ft range. However, expect up to twenty minutes between waves, and it’ll be much smaller at protected spots.
If you had to hedge your bets I’d probably recommend not bothering, but if you’re in the area anyway it’ll be worth a periodic check on things. Winds are the main factor working against us on Saturday.
A front will cross Southern NSW late Saturday and push up along Northern NSW and SE Qld into Sunday, swinging early SW winds (very brief window south of Ballina) to the south.
Only a small southerly windswell will trail the change - favouring Northern NSW’s south facing beaches - and they’ll be wind affected. Otherwise Sunday’s surf will consist of easing long range, extremely inconsistent E’ly groundswell (maybe some stray 2-3ft sets early, if you’re very patient) and the start of a new mid-range E’ly swell from the supporting ridge south of TC Harold, in the Coral Sea.
Local winds will only favour protected spots throughout the middle to latter part of the day. Therefore, because these swells are considered low confidence events, don’t go out of your way looking for waves.
Next week (Apr 6 onwards)
A high pressure ridge will anchor across the coast for much of next week, maintaining moderate to fresh S’ly through S/SE winds. Monday should see a temporary period of lighter winds, otherwise we’ll see similar conditions from day to day, only favouring protected points with a handful of regions experiencing early morning SW winds for a few hours.
As for surf, with the long range E’ly groundswell all but gone, we’re looking at a steady supply of very inconsistent but otherwise surfable E’ly swell from the supporting ridge below TC Harold. No major size is likely with 2-3ft sets at open beaches, and smaller waves running down the outer points, but it’ll workable if you’re super keen.
The local ridge will also generate mid-range S/SE swells though they’ll only favour south facing beaches in Northern NSW (2-3ft+ sets), and exposed northern ends of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts (2-3ft), all of which will be horribly wind affected.
TC Harold is expected to remain behind the New Caledonian swell shadow this weekend, and upon re-entering our swell window on Monday and Tuesday, will likely move too fast to the east, which is a poor storm track for our swell prospects anyway. Therefore, I’m not expecting much surf from it (even though it’s likely to reach Cat 3 status - creating all kinds of havoc for Vanuatu).
A broad, powerful low pressure system to the south of Tasmania this weekend will set up a decent southerly swell for later Tuesday (Mid North Coast) and Wednesday (all Northern NSW coasts), though with perhaps 4ft sets at south facing beaches south of Byron, you probably won’t find anything worthwhile under the accompanying fresh southerly breeze anyway.
Later next week may also see some flukey E’ly swell from a broad and strong though poorly located depression in the South Pacific over the weekend, to the east of New Zealand. Ordinarily I’d dismiss its initial stages as a proper swell source, but the last six months has delivered a couple of good swell events from similar systems - and the latter stages look a little better for swell prospects, though still partially shadowed - so I’m keeping my options open for this. I’ll have more details on Monday once we’ve got some scatterometer returns showing how good the fetch was (or wasn’t). Early stages suggest wave heights reaching around the 4ft mark around Thursday or Friday, through the weekend. It’ll be very inconsistent if we do infact see anything arrive.
And lastly, as mentioned on Wednesday, a series of powerful fronts through the Tasman Sea later next week will set up an extended period of large, powerful southerly groundswells across the East Coast from Good Friday through the easter weekend and into the start of the following week. This is likely to generate quite a bit of size for south facing beaches south of Byron - maybe 6ft to possibly 8ft - but I’ll firm up the specifics in more detail next week.
Have a great weekend, see you Monday!