Dynamic forecast, mainly from the south
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 13th January)
Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)
- Fun trade swell Thurs with light winds and sea breezes
- N'ly winds spoiling leftover E'ly swell on Fri (super early options north of Yamba)
- Early light winds Sat (and a small E'ly swell) ahead of a gusty S'ly change and building S'ly windswell in Nthn NSW
- Easing size, light winds on Sun, only small in SE Qld
- Late Sunday kick in new S'ly groundswell (MNC), peaking Mon across Northern NSW (only small SE Qld)
- Large S'ly swell building Tues (with gusty S'lies developing), peaking Wed, easing slowly Thurs onwards; much smaller in SE Qld but good potential nevertheless
Recap: Fun peaky E’ly swells and generally good winds (light variable early, afternoon onshore) have maintained fun waves at most coasts. Size has been around the 2-3ft mark both days.
This week (Jan 14 - 15)
Tomorrow’s your last chance to get stuck into this fun peaky trade swell, because Friday is (for the most part) looking like a write-off as northerly winds freshen.
There’s no real expectations of any change in size or strength from today through tomorrow (so mainly 2-3ft at exposed spots, smaller on the points), though it’s worth pointing out that we have some very large mid-morning high tides at the moment and they’re swallowing up a lot of the open beaches and points.
Conversely, the afternoon low tides are very low, which is having the opposite effect, closing out the beaches but providing good runners along the outer sand bottom points.
No major size change in swell is expected into Friday, however an approaching southerly change across Southern NSW will freshen N’ly winds across the coast. Most of SE Qld and parts of Far Northern NSW should see a window of early light winds, but for the most part expect the surf to become blown out through the day.
This weekend (Jan 16 - 17)
A vigorous front will push into the Tasman Sea overnight Friday, with temporary southerly gales developing parallel to the Southern NSW coast.
These winds should reach the Northern NSW coast through Saturday morning, probably arriving across the Gold Coast around lunchtime. So, prior to their arrival we’ll see light W’ly winds across Northern NSW however SE Qld (in particular the Sunshine Coast) will be at risk of early N/NW winds, before they tend W’ly before the S’ly flow kicks in.
As for the wind timing south of Byron, the S’ly change is due into Port Mac around dawn and Coffs by mid-morning. So you’ll need to be quick in Northern NSW.
Initially, early Saturday will have small residual E’ly swell somewhere between 2ft and a slow 2-3ft at exposed beaches (smaller south from Yamba; the source fetch will be in the lower Coral Sea rather than the northern Tasman, which favours northern locations for the most size).
A short-lived south swell will build across Northern NSW coasts through the day though the accompanying winds will create average conditions. South facing beaches south of Byron may see some late bumpy 3-4ft sets, elsewhere expect much smaller, slower surf. SE Qld won’t pick up much south swell at all.
On Sunday, we’ll see this south swell decrease in size (3ft down to 2ft at south facing beaches south of Byron), and a minor undercurrent of E’ly swell should maintain slow 2ft sets at open beaches, sourced from a weak sub-tropical low sitting just inside the NZ swell shadow over the coming days (at the tail end of the fetch responsible for our current trade swell). Conditions will also become much cleaner with light winds and sea breezes.
Late afternoon, a new S’ly groundswell is expected to show across the Mid North Coast, generated by a second, stronger front racing up into the lower Tasman Sea during Saturday morning. This new south swell will peak on Monday across most coasts, but late afternoon could see 3-5ft sets at south swell magnets south of Coffs. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on Southern NSW obs through the day.
Next week (Jan 18 onwards)
As mentioned on Monday, we’ve got a strong southerly swell cycle on the boil. The weekend will see the early (small) stages of this pattern but the real juice is lining up for the first half of next week.
The only concern I have at this stage is that the storm track will be right on the periphery of the Tasmanian swell shadow. If it shifts a fraction to the west, we’ll see size projections halve (if not more). Conversely, a slight eastward shift may open up even larger size prospects.
For now, Monday is looking at steady size holding 4-5ft at south facing beaches south of Byron. Beaches not open to the south will be much smaller, and I’m not expecting SE Qld to pick up much size at all - barely 1-1.5ft across the outer points, though a handful of exposed northern ends could see occasional 2-3ft sets. In fact, there’ll probably be a more useful residual E’ly swell in the water, offering inconsistent 1-2ft sets, sourced from the same sub-tropical low inside the NZ swell shadow.
Morning conditions look to be clean everywhere with light winds, ahead of developing N/NE breezes through the afternoon.
This south swell will ease into Tuesday, ahead of a gusty S’ly change and a rapid increase in powerful southerly groundswell into the afternoon, ahead of a peak on Wednesday.
This will be sourced from the main system from this sequence - an intensifying polar low, being slingshotted to the north around an amplifying node of the Long Wave Trough (see below) - and south facing beaches south of Byron should push up somewhere in the 6ft to maybe 8ft range.
Of course, most locations will come in quite a bit smaller though you’ll need to hunt for some protection from the accompanying S’ly tending S/SE wind.
SE Qld should pick up plenty of swell through this period, much smaller than Northern NSW and very inconsistent though a decent 2-3ft across the outer points, up to 3-5ft at exposed northern ends (though very wind affected at these spots).
The long term trend beyond Wednesday maintains the slow moving nature of the LWT through the Tasman Sea, so any easing from Thursday through Friday will be gradual, rather than rapid. But, this is when the best surface conditions will occur as a high pressure system moves in from the west, creating clean conditions.
So, a return to spring surf is ahead - hopefully your local is primed for decent south swells. Because we’ve got quite a few days coming up that’ll tick that box nicely.
See you Friday!