Stacking up from the south, again
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 3rd July)
Best Days: Sun: Building S'ly swell in Northern NSW though wind affected at many spots. Keep an eye out for a small sneaky S'ly tending S/SE swell in SE Qld. Mon/Tues: strong S'ly swell in Northern NSW (small in SE Qld). Wed/Thurs: strong S'ly groundswell, biggest in Northern NSW, small in SE Qld.
Recap: Thursday morning delivered excellent waves across many coasts out of the SE, initially 3-4ft south from Byron and 2-3ft in SE Qld, clean with light winds. Easing wave heights and slowly freshening N/NW winds created issues into this afternoon. Smaller surf today has maintained 2ft sets across most coasts, with early NW winds favouring a handful of exposed beaches ahead of another freshening N’ly trend that bumped up conditions through the day at most open beaches.
This weekend (July 4 - 5)
The weekend looks pretty average, overall.
Today’s minor leftover swells will bottom out into Saturday; a small sneaky SE swell is in the model guidance for Saturday morning throughout Northern NSW, but I don’t think it’ll amount to much size across the coast as it was sourced from a small flukey low under New Zealand that didn’t look great on the synoptics.
Our only swell source this weekend is a series of fronts rocketing through the lower Tasman Sea from Saturday morning onwards. They’ll generate a steadily building S/SW swell that’ll reach a peak late Sunday (Mid North Coast) through Monday (most of Northern NSW).
However, freshening S/SW winds each day will limit the cleanest options to protected southern corners. Early mornings should see periods of W/SW winds, but Saturday will be tiny so Sunday probably looks the pick.
The models have an increase (for Northern NSW) on Saturday afternoon but I’m doubtful there’ll be much surf of note, as it's related to the initial winds trailing the front - so will be short period windswell.
South facing beaches should build to 2-3ft by Sunday morning ahead of larger surf in the 4-5ft range by late in the day, south of Coffs Harbour, but local winds will be around to the S/SW at this time so you’ll have to tuck into a southern corner.
There’ll be a lag on the upwards trend in Far Northern NSW - so keep your expectations very low here all weekend for any major size - and I’m doubtful SE Qld will pick up much size at all from this source all weekend. Fortunately, the front is expected to have much less influence north from about Yamba, so lighter winds may favour a Sunday afternoon session in the Northern Rivers, but anywhere north of the border is very tricky to have confidence in.
That being said - model guidance does have a small, temporary fetch of SW gales pushing off the Mid North Coast late Saturday (see below), and I’ve seen these kinds of local systems contribute brief spreads of interesting S'ly tending S/SE swells back into the coast north from Ballina or thereabouts, sometimes even getting into the SE Qld outer points and offering small runners. It’s a low confidence event, so don’t plan on anything great - but keep an eye on the surfcams for signs of life.
Next week (July 6 onwards)
A broadening of the primary fetch through the lower Tasman on Saturday and early Sunday should generate stronger surf across the Northern NSW coast on Monday, pushing 4-5ft+ at south facing beaches south of Byron, and we should see size slowly building to 2-3ft along the outer SE Qld points, a little bigger at exposed northern ends (though there may be a lag on this size range early morning). Wave heights will then slowly ease from this size range on Tuesday, earlier south from Yamba.
Winds will be around to the south by this time so exposed northern ends will be very wind affected and only sheltered southern ends and points will have workable conditions - and they'll be much smaller.
An impressive polar low and front will concurrently push through the lower Tasman Sea, reaching Southern NSW on Tuesday morning though clearing to the east through the middle of the week.
This polar low looks really good on the synoptics (see below) and will generate excellent overlapping southerly swells that’ll fill in through Wednesday (mainly Mid North Coast) and Thursday (everywhere else), before easing on Friday. Peak surf size should reach 4-5ft+ at most south facing beaches south of Byron (of course, much smaller elsewhere), and although the direction won’t be great for SE Qld, the long periods associated with the core fetch around the polar low should help to bend the swell into the outer points with clean 2-3ft sets on offer. The main issue will be a high degree of inconsistency.
Much lighter winds are expected through the middle to latter part of next week so things are looking very promising for some decent south swell and favourable conditions.
Have a great weekend, see you Monday!