Small peaky weekend, then a whole stack of swell and wind next week
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 10th July)
Best Days: Sat/Sun/Mon: small peaky mix of swells, generally good conditions (except Sat PM, south of the border). Tues onwards (Wed onwards in SE Qld): extended run of large S'ly tending SE swells, though very windy at times. Smaller surf north of the border but ideal for the outer points. Looking best Thurs/Fri/Sat.
Recap: Thursday delivered good 4-5ft surf across Northern NSW with a resurgence of SE swell, that pushed 2-3ft through SE Qld and a few bigger sets at the swell magnets. Size has eased slightly today. Winds have been out of the south so conditions have favoured the points, though speeds were much lighter today so the open beaches also had options.
This weekend (July 11 - 12)
There's no change to the weekend forecast.
Light variable winds are expected both days throughout SE Qld, though Saturday (mainly the afternoon) is at risk of freshening northerly winds south of Byron Bay, which may force the only surfable options after lunch to protected northern corners (winds will probably swing N’ly in SE Qld but it’ll remain generally light). Variable winds are then expected on Sunday in all regions.
As for surf, our current SE swell will continue to slowly ease, though it’ll be supplemented by a small short range E’ly swell, already showing today - sourced from a modest ridge through the Coral Sea, extending some distance back into the Northern Tasman.
No major size is expected though exposed beaches in SE Qld and Far Northern NSW may see peaky 2ft+ sets from this source, about the same size as the easing SE swell across Northern NSW, maybe a fraction bigger at south swell magnets south of Byron.
Additionally, Sunday may pick up some small long period S’ly energy at south facing beaches (south of Byron), in the 2ft range.
On the balance, keep your expectations low this weekend and aim for a protected northern corner on Saturday and a wide open beach on Sunday.
Next week (July 13 onwards)
So, next week’s looking pretty dynamic, eh? I’ve been talking about this potential ECL since last Monday, and I gotta say - the models have been pretty impressive thus far. There’s very little change to the surf outlook for next week.
Though, Monday’s now not looking that great as the models have weakened the strength of an E/NE infeed into a coastal trough late Sunday, which will eventually form into a large low pressure system on Monday. So, conditions are looking nice and clean across all regions to start the working week with freshening W’ly winds, but we’ll see only small residual peaky swells best suited to the wide open beaches.
Now, just on this developing weather system - and to be super picky - it may not end up being an East Coast Low, but instead an Easterly Trough Low (or more common, a boring old Tasman Low). The reason for this is that winds look to be very strong but not storm force or greater along the coastal margin (mainly Southern NSW), and rainfall totals won’t be extraordinary either. This situation may be revised over the coming days, but it’s an important distinction if you’re looking to out-nerd your non-synoptic-loving mates.
This Tasman Low will start to wind up off Southern NSW on Monday, and we won’t see any increase across the Mid North Coast until later Tuesday, and then Far Northern NSW and SE Qld until Wednesday.
The position and alignment of the low means we’ll see mainly S’ly swells as the peak energy through Tuesday and Wednesday (see below), with a smaller component of SE swell from the bottom of the low (aimed better into Southern NSW). This will create large size differences between south facing beaches - which will also be heavily wind affected - and protected southern corners. We’ll also see much smaller surf size in SE Qld.
From Wednesday onwards, the low will move a little further north (off Northern NSW) and broaden more efficiently across the Tasman Sea, creating a wider fetch and allowing a greater spread of energy back into protected spots. Conditions will still be quite windy out of the south at this time (Thurs/Fri/Sat) but there’ll be a better range of options for protected locations and points as the swell direction swings more S/SE, maybe even SE.
It's difficult to be specific with the various pulses from this low, as they're fraught with potential overcorrections at five days out. Short version: very large and windy across Northern NSW’s south facing beaches, around 8-10ft from late Tues thru’ Wed and early Thurs, suitable for sheltered spots only. Expect a delay on this size in the Far North until Wednesday.
Across SE Qld, we’ll see building S’ly swells through Wednesday but with strengthening S’ly winds for the rest of the week, the only size reference that maters is that for the points. We should pick up 3ft+ sets through Wednesday and Thursday across the outer points, with Friday and Saturday likely to push a little higher (maybe 3-4ft+). Exposed northern ends and south facing beaches will be larger though very wind affected.
As a side note, an incredible, broad fetch of easterly gales will develop west of Cook Strait (the region separating NZ’s North and South Island) from Wednesday onwards (see below), and this will generate a strong secondary E/SE (Mid North Coast) tending SE (Far Northern NSW, SE Qld) for Friday afternoon that’ll peak peak on Saturday and then slowly ease from Sunday onwards. It won’t be any bigger than the pre-existing swell in SE Qld, but Northern NSW should pick up 5-6ft+ sets through Saturday.
Have a great weekend!