Easing surf, but still a decent summer run ahead
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 22nd January)
Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)
- Good morning conditions north from Byron this weekend, though becoming wind affected to the south
- Today's S/SE swell continue to ease through Saturday, almost all gone by Sunday arvo
- Building S'ly groundswell across Northern NSW late Sun thru' Mon/Tues
- Slowly building trade swell from Sun, biggest across SE Qld, peaking Wed/Thurs with strong surf across the points
- Extended run of E'ly swell beyond this
Recap: The last two days have delivered strong, sizeable S/SE groundswell across the region with some fantastic surf reported at many coasts. Both Thursday and Friday managed 5-6ft+ sets across many exposed south facing regions of Northern NSW (smaller elsewhere). Some regions - mainly the Mid North Coast - reported even bigger surf at times on Thursday. However, we saw much much smaller surf in SE Qld, with slow 2ft+ waves across the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, occasionally up to 4ft at exposed northern ends. Early light winds preceded freshening SE winds on Thursday (eventually swinging NE on the MNC), with similar conditions this morning ahead of an afternoon NE breeze.
This weekend (Jan 23 - 24)
No change to the weekend forecast.
Light morning winds and moderate afternoon sea breezes are expected north from Byron both days, but south from Yamba we’ll see freshening NE winds creating a few issues through the days, with a narrower window of opportunity in the early morning.
As for surf, the currently S/SE swell has eased across Southern NSW today (and also Northern NSW) so we’ll see a similar trend play out through into Saturday. South facing beaches in Northern NSW (south of Byron) should see early 3-4ft sets but it’ll abate to 2-3ft through the day. Expect long waits for the bigger waves.
North of the border, most beaches will dry up to a slow 1-1.5ft though there’ll be a small undercurrent of E’ly trade swell in the mix near 1-2ft, from a developing ridge through the lower Coral Sea.
Sunday will see even smaller leftover S/SE swell across Northern NSW, however a new long period S’ly groundswell is expected to nose into the Mid North Coast after lunch, generated by a strong progression of Southern Ocean lows below the continent over the last few days. I’m not sure whether we’ll see much action north of Coffs, but south swell magnets to the south should pick up 3-4ft sets (expect a very late arrival in the Far North).
SE Qld should see a minor lift in the E’ly trade swell from 1-2ft to 2-3ft though the biggest surf will generally be found across the Sunshine Coast, with smaller surf as you head south from the Gold Coast. Don't expect a great deal of action on the points either.
Next week (Jan 25 onwards)
The Southern Ocean storm track responsible for Sunday’s late arrival of long period S’ly swell will remain slow moving south of the Tasman Sea over the weekend, and will consequently maintain intermittent long period S’ly swells across Northern NSW through Monday. Only reliable south facing beaches will pick up this energy, with inconsistent sets around 3-4ft. Expect a gradual easing from late Tuesday through Wednesday.
At the same time, the trade swell will slowly build across SE Qld, with slightly smaller surf from this source south from Yamba. Open beaches should build from 2-3ft early Monday to 4ft through Tuesday, and a developing E’ly dip to the W/SW of New Caledonia early in the week has the potential to boost Wednesday and Thursday into the 4-5ft+ range.
Winds look to be generally quite OK north from Byron (i.e. across SE Qld) for Monday and Tuesday, with a weak pressure pattern providing light to moderate onshores through the day, but with periods of light variable winds at times (mainly the mornings).
However, south from Byron we’ll see a persistent NE airstream - strongest on the lower Mid North Coast - create adverse conditions at exposed locations. We should see lighter N’ly winds through the morning but you’ll need to work around local conditions a little more so than locations further north.
On Wednesday, a small low is expected to develop across the SW Coral Sea, closer to the SE Qld coast. This should bring about a period of freshening SE winds to Far Northern NSW and SE Qld, and with wave heights remaining elevated (thanks to the associated fetch stretching east of the low), we’ll see fun conditions for the regional points.
Northern NSW will see secondary swells through next week from a few sources (aside from local NE windswell on Mon/Tues): a cut-off low in the Southern Ocean below Tasmania early next week should generate a mid-week S’ly swell for south swell magnets, and a ridge pushing in below Tuesday’s South Coast trough should generally some SE swell mid-late next week too. But, the trade swell and the energy from the E’ly dip will probably be the dominant sources..
Long term maintains a whole stack of near-stationary swell sources in the Northern Tasman Sea, lower Coral Sea and South Pacific, so it looks like we’ll be back to the easterly swell machine for quite a few weeks.
See you Monday!