Coupla (small) windows of opportunity
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 23rd November)
Best Days: Tues: possible window of OK conditions and peaky N'ly windswells across a handful of SE Qld and Far Northern NSW beaches (keep your expectations low). Thurs/Fri: small SE swell with light morning winds. Biggest in Northern NSW.
Recap: Small E’ly swells across SE Qld and Northern NSW over the weekend were clean through the mornings with light winds, but the afternoons saw freshening northerlies. Surf size was smaller south from Yamba. Today has seen the northerly really pick up in strength and generate a local N’ly windswell across some exposed spots, though conditions are terrible.
This week (Nov 24 - 27)
A complex trough is moving up the NSW coast this evening. However, the short term outlook is not clear for Tuesday morning, as it appears that a short-lived southerly wind change (into Coffs before midnight) will precede the main trough, which is expected into Coffs early/mid-morning, reaching the border around lunchtime.
As such, there’s likely to be a window of light winds ahead of the main change - though model guidance maintains the northerly flow across much of SE Qld through the early morning.
At first glance, this would appear to be a negative, but it’s actually a positive - we’re already seeing 2ft+ of local N’ly windswell right now (across the Southern Gold Coast, at least) and it should maintain this size, if not build a smidge more into Tuesday morning.
This means once the wind becomes light (or the southerly pushes through) there could be some interesting N’ly peaks running sideways down the beaches. Max surf size will probably be somewhere in the 2ft to maybe 2-3ft range at a handful of north-facing swell magnets on the southern Gold and Tweed Coasts, with smaller surf everywhere else (Sunny Coast, and south from Byron). So, keep your eyes peeled and pounce if everything lines up. It's a low confidence event (and only a windswell anyway!), but could be OK.
In fact, the S’ly tending SE change is expected to stall upon reaching the Gold Coast Tuesday, and may not even make it north of Moreton Island until Wednesday.
Anyway, a new Tasman Low will form to the east of Sydney over the coming days, in association with this southerly change. However the models have slightly downgraded this low in a few ways (size, strength) and also sped up its eastern transition, so I am going to marginally downgrade its size potential from several of its sources.
The fetch trailing the southerly change will generate a brief flush of short range south swell for south swell magnets in Northern NSW on Tuesday afternoon, but accompanying fresh southerly winds will create bumpy conditions at those beaches picking up the most size late in the day (3ft+). Protected southern corners will be much smaller though cleaner and we probably won’t see much size north of the border on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s south swell will ease quickly into Wednesday (with abating S/SE winds south from Ballina), and despite a new ridge building into the Coral Sea, it doesn’t look strong enough to generate any meaningful swell for SE Qld. So, expect small surf across the outer points under a moderate to fresh S/SE breeze.
Late Wednesday afternoon will see the arrival of a small new SE swell from the southern flank of the Tasman Low (see below). This should rebuild exposed beaches in Northern NSW back up into the 2-3ft range, though SE Qld probably won’t see much of an influence into Thursday.
Open beaches should maintain 3ft sets across Northern NSW on Thursday though it’ll be smaller throughout SE Qld, with 2ft sets at exposed beaches and smaller waves again along the points, though the wavelength will have drawn out by then so surf quality should be a little better.
This swell should persist into Friday morning before gradually easing, and early light winds will freshen from the NE (Mid North Coast), E (Northern Rivers) and E/SE (SE Qld).
So, in summary there’ll be small beaches on offer Thursday and Friday mornings across most coasts, and sometime Tuesday should offer a window of peaky N’ly swells across SE Qld and Far Northern NSW beaches.
This weekend (Nov 28 - 29)
We have another weekend of small surf, and freshening northerly breezes. Though SE Qld should be spared the poor winds until Sunday.
As it is, there won’t be much surf anyway. Our small SE swell for the end of this week will be gone, and most of our usual swell windows look dormant.
The only thing to keep an eye out for is a possible small south swell both days. A decent frontal system pushing under Tasmania this Wed/Thurs will generate a small south swell for Sunday, however model guidance actually shows a nice swell front pushing up into the lower Tasman Sea on Friday, glancing Northern NSW on Saturday morning - but this will originate from a stronger but poorly shadowed fetch to the south-west of Tasmania over the coming days (an earlier incarnation of the same system, see below).
It’s a super flukey event, and I’m reluctant to put much faith in the chances of anything occuring, as it’s quite likely that most beaches will completely dip out - but there is certainly a chance that one or two reliable south swell magnets (probably just the Mid North Coast) could pick up stray 2-3ft sets from this source. I’ll take a closer look on Monday.
Sunday’s south swell looks even smaller, and equally flukey, and the wind will be hammering by then most likely.
Next week (Nov 30 onwards)
The models are still suggesting a series of strong fronts through the lower Tasman Sea throughout next week, resulting in a couple of decent south swells for Northern NSW. More on this in Wednesday’s update.