Dominant swell direction to swing from the east to the south
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 8th April)
Best Days: Most days: fun small waves across SE Qld beaches and outer points. Sun: large though windy S'ly swell, biggest in Northern NSW. Mon/Tues/Wed: plenty of S'ly swell for Northern NSW, only small in SE Qld.
Recap: E’ly swells have maintained 2-3ft waves across SE Qld and Far Northern NSW over the last two days, with conditions best suited to the outer points under S/SE breezes. Northern NSW has seen smaller surf from this source but a series of S’ly swells built slowly through Tuesday, peaking today around 3-4ft at south facing beaches. Winds have been lighter and more variable south from Yamba.
This week (Apr 9 - 10)
Our current E’ly swell was generated by the supporting ridge to TC Harold, which is now entering our eastern swell window, well east of New Caledonia. However, TC Harold is tracking too quickly to the east to generate any meaningful swell for Australia’s East Coast. As such I am not expecting any energy from it, or the supporting ridge (which has subsequently weakened).
That being said, we have some small E’ly swell on the way for SE Qld over the coming days, from a new high in the Tasman Sea that’ll briefly strengthen a ridge through the Coral Sea and Northern Tasman Sea from now through Friday. We won’t see a lot of size, but it should lift open beaches and outer points back up into the 2-3ft range by Thursday afternoon (perhaps a slight lag on this early morning), holding through Friday.
Also in the water on Thursday and Friday - mainly across SE Qld, but also parts of Far Northern NSW - will be an inconsistent E’ly groundswell, generated by a deep trough/tropical low well to the east of NZ last weekend, inside its swell shadow. This probably won’t appear much prominently than the local E’ly swell, but may be discernible via spectral buoy data. If we're lucky, the overlapping swell trains may generate a few bigger waves at reliable swell magnets.
As for conditions, the local ridge will maintain moderate to fresh S/SE breezes for much of Thursday - with just a few pockets of early light SW winds - but wind speeds will ease into Friday as the ridge relaxes, creating light variable conditinos across most regions on Friday. The only exception is the Sunshine Coast which may see an early lingering S/SE breeze, but even if that occurs, it should abate by lunchtime.
As for Northern NSW, we’re approaching the peak of the southerly swell cycle and wave heights will ease from Thursday onwards. South facing beaches south of Byron may see a few stray 3-4ft sets early morning before it eases to 2-3ft during the day, and Friday will be down to 2ft+. We’ll also see some E’ly swell (as above) in the water though it’ll be smaller with increasing distance from about Ballina or Yamba.
Winds look generally light to moderate E’ly on Thursday, tending northerly on Friday, though with reasonable periods of light variable winds (generally in the mornings). So, conditions won’t be amazing but it’ll be workable.
This weekend (Apr 11 - 12)
Freshening pre-frontal westerly winds on Saturday will maintain clean conditions for the open beaches, but all of our swell sources will be easing. Northern NSW will see just a foot or two of lazy, leftover south swell, but SE Qld’s swell magnets may pick up a few 2-3ft sets early morning before size eases to 1-2ft during the day.
A vigorous front will push off the coast overnight Saturday, delivering fresh to strong S/SW winds to most regions, possibly gale force across the Mid North Coast.
We’ll see building S’ly swells through the day, originating from two seperate sources - the first from a broad, intense polar low pressure system tracking well south of Tasmania on Friday (see below).
Although poorly aligned within our swell window - and also located a long way from our region - the sheer strength of this system can’t be discounted, and we’re looking at long period energy in the 17-18 second range. This should contribute a brief period of 3-5ft surf at south facing beaches south of Byron, though it’ll be very inconsistent and won’t show at protected coasts (nor many locations north of the border either).
The other south swell (primary, or secondary?) will have originated from a strong fetch trailing Saturday night’s change. The swell periods will be lower but there’ll be more size in the ocean swell (see below).
This should kick up 4-6ft+ surf at south facing beaches south of Byron, smaller elsewhere in the 3-4ft range, and even SE Qld should see a kick in size through the afternoon, reaching 2-3ft+ across the outer Gold Coast points (smaller across the Sunshine Coast). Expect smaller surf in SE Qld through the morning.
Of course, under these gusty S/SW tending S’ly winds, only sheltered points will have clean conditions. Let’s firm up the specifics in Friday’s update.
Next week (Apr 13 onwards)
Strong secondary fronts trailing behind Saturdays system will maintain elevated southerly swells across Northern NSW for Monday, Tuesday and (according to model guidance) possibly even Wednesday - though I think mid-week is a stretch (Mon and Tues most likely).
This should keep south facing beaches in the 3-5ft range, and conditions are looking great under an extended period of light winds thanks to a weak high pressure ridge.
With no meaningful easterly swell expected in the water next week, SE Qld will be reliant on diffracted southerly swell for its surf, so expect much smaller wave heights. There should however be small peelers across the outer points.
More on this in Friday’s update.