More energy from the east, then the synoptics get weird
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 3rd August)
Best Days: Fun waves all week across the open beaches. Plenty of surf from the weekend onwards but with tricky winds.
Recap: Punchy E’ly swells maintained excellent 3-5ft surf across exposed coasts all weekend, with a strong S/SE groundswell from a Tasman Low peaking later than expected, building through Saturday and holding steadily through Sunday in the 5-6ft range south of the border. Wave heights have eased back to 3-4ft today, mainly E’ly. Winds were S’ly on Saturday but became light across most coasts yesterday and today.
This week (Aug 4 - 7)
I’m still expecting a renewal of E/NE swell overnight, tending E'ly in the north, from a broadening E/NE fetch north of New Zealand over the weekend in conjunction with a large trough (and indeed the remnants of the Tasman Low responsible for the weekend’s S/SE energy), which is now retreating and abating.
With this fetch best aimed towards Southern NSW, we’ll see the most size across the Mid North Coast in the 3-5ft range, grading to 3-4ft across the Northern Rivers and then an inconsistent 3ft into SE Qld. Conditions should be clean across most coasts with light to moderate W/NW tending NW winds but this may affect the points (quality-wise) if it gets up up over 10kts (which is quite possible).
Further pulses of reinforcing E’ly swell are then expected through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - the former from the final stages of the existing trough north of New Zealand, and the latter from a broad though distant sub-tropical low well east of New Zealand. This should maintain inconsistent 3-4ft sets across most open beaches in Northern NSW mid-late week, with slightly smaller surf in SE Qld.
Conditions should be clean with light winds Thursday, but Friday is at risk of developing onshores with a coastal trough, mainly SE Qld and Far Northern NSW (Mid North Coast may be spared these winds until Saturday).
To our south-west, and a significant cold outbreak is approaching Tasmania and Victoria. The associated cut-off low will push into our acute south swell window late Tuesday, and form a thin fetch of gale to storm force winds off the East Coast of Tasmania into Wednesday morning, before the low slowly moves east, weakens slightly but broadens more prominently as a secondary front races up from polar latitudes.
Initially, this low will be positioned too close to the mainland - up inside the Hunter curve - to properly benefit Northern NSW with any significant south swell. As such, whilst Thursday could see some solid surf in Southern NSW, only a few reliable south swell magnets south of Coffs will probably pick up any energy.
Friday is a little different though, as by this time the low will have broadened, and should be more efficiently generating southerly swell across the basin. An increase to 3-5ft at south swell magnets (morning Mid North Coast, late afternoon Northern Rivers) is on the cards but it’s not worth getting overly excited about at this stage, as it's a bit of a flukey system.
This weekend (Aug 8 - 9)
The secondary front mentioned above (merging with the low in the southern Tasman Sea) should maintain fun south swell all weekend across Northern NSW in the 3-4ft+ range at south facing beaches. We'll see smaller surf north of the border, up to 2ft+ at outer points and open beaches though a little bigger at exposed northern ends (smaller on the Sunny Coast). An undercurrent of residual E'ly swell should be present across all coasts too.
However, the big risk on Saturday will be developing northerly winds winds as a coastal trough envelops the region. The good news is that these northerlies will probably be brief - if they affect anywhere at all - and will clear to a moderate westerly on Sunday as Southern NSW experiences wet, windy onshore conditions under a developing East Coast Low.
Of course, we’ll see a swell increase from this system but the main size probably won’t happen until early next week, and may be confined to southern locations. However a NE infeed into the developing trough (and eventual ECL) should provide some punchy NE tending E/NE swell on Saturday. At this stage the afternoon will be for best chance for a wave as winds should become more favourable by then. Sunday also looks fun at this stage, but we need a few more days for the models to align.
I’ll fine tune things on Wednesday.
Next week (Aug 10 onwards)
Not only will this East Coast low deliver another region of large, wet and windy waves across the region early next week (most size across the Mid North Coast - see below - smaller as you head north), we’re also looking at another strong frontal sequence into the lower Tasman Sea around the same time, which should supply a strong secondary southerly groundswell for Northern NSW through the middle to latter part of next week.
More on this in Wednesday’s notes.