Endless easterly swells on the boil
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 25th January)
Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)
- Steady trade swell all week
- Problematic winds in Northern NSW on Tues, not too bad in SE Qld
- Improving conditions from Wed, OK conditions Thurs onwards though periods of onshores most regions, most days
- Stronger trade swell into the weekend
- Even stronger E'ly swells for most of next week, possible with some tropical cyclone influence
Recap: We’ve seen a wide range of swells over the last few days. Saturday saw easing S/SE groundswell from Friday, from 4ft to 2-3ft across south facing beaches south of Byron, with smaller surf elsewhere though a small trade swell built to 1-2ft across SE Qld. This trade swell increased a little more into Sunday (2-3ft) and has pushed 3-4ft at some locations today. Additionally, further southerly swells have pushed across Northern NSW late Sunday (MNC) and today (everywhere else) with inconsistent 3-4ft sets at south facing beaches south of Byron.
Next week (Jan 26 - 29)
Before we get into the expected easterly swell regime, it’s worth mentioning that we’ve seen continuing southerly swells across Southern NSW today, and they should persist into Tuesday across Northern NSW. Sets all be inconsistent but should manage 3ft at times at south swell magnets south of Byron. This swell will then ease through Wednesday.
Right now the main synoptic features are a strong ridge across the Northern Tasman and South Pacific, and a coastal ridge bringing northerly winds across much of the East Coast.
A trough will push up along Southern NSW later Tuesday and overnight into early Wednesday, and should nose into the Mid North Coast during Wednesday morning - but will probably stall just north of this region through the afternoon. The end result will be a southerly wind change south of Coffs by Wednesday afternoon (mid-morning south from Port Mac) but an easing of the northerly flow across northern regions to become light and variable by mid-late afternoon.
Prior to this, expect freshening N’ly winds on Tuesday with generally poor conditions across most of Northern NSW. Wednesday morning is also at risk of N'ly winds throughout Northern NSW, ahead of the change.
SE Qld is a little different though, as we'll see a weaker pressure gradient and thus lighter winds, especially though the mornings. Tuesday afternoon will pick up a moderate to fresh NE breeze, but Wednesday could very well see light variable winds all day.
Note: ‘variable’ means ‘from any direction’, which could be onshore. But for the most part SE Qld looks to be spared any significant, prolonged deterioration in surf conditions as a result of the winds.
As for surf, there’s been a slight downgrade from Friday’s estimates, but we’re still looking at a steady period of trade swell across all coasts, generally holding 3-4ft+ from Tuesday through Friday at exposed beaches (smaller on the points), with perhaps a little less size on Thursday, but a few bigger sets Wednesday and Friday. Expect smaller surf as you head south from about Ballina or Yamba - though not by much.
A new ridge will build through the Coral Sea on Thursday, freshening SE winds for the rest of the week though there’ll be pockets of early light SW winds.
A second ridge to the south of our mid-week trough/southerly change (on the Mid North Coast) will maintain moderate to fresh E/SE winds about the southern part of this region, though it looks like it may be focused south of Coffs. This leads open the possibility that we’ll see lighter winds - more variable in nature - across a small region, perhaps encompassing Coffs through Yamba, maybe Ballina. It’s a low confident characteristic but worth keeping an eye out for.
The ridge south of the Mid North Coast will also contribute 3-4ft of peaky ‘trade’ swell for the MNC, so it’s feasible the combination of easterly swell trains may produce bigger waves across this region.
All in all: plenty of swell, just gotta work the winds.
This weekend (Jan 30 - 31)
Later this week, the majority of the Tasman Sea will be under the influence of some form of ridge, and thus some form of easterly flow, holding through the weekend. This means we’ll see plenty of easterly swell all weekend, though of no major quality as it’ll be a mixture of overlapping mid-range swell trains.
In fact we’ll probably see the central-Tasman ridge merge with a broadening Northern-Tasman-Sea-cum-Coral Sea ridge around Friday, but the end result will be the same. Stacks of E’ly swell all weekend, around 4-5ft at exposed beaches, smaller on the points.
Winds look to be some form of moderate E’ly - more E/NE on the Mid North Coast, straight E’ly in Northern NSW and E/SE in SE Qld - but there’;ll be lengthy pockets of light variable winds through the mornings.
Pretty typical summer pattern, to be honest. Very bluebottle friendly, mind.
Next week (Feb 1 onwards)
The tropics are about to fire up under the passage of an MJO phase, and we’ve got no end in sight for the easterly swell machine.
This pattern is expected supercharge the trade flow across the Northern Tasman Sea and South Pacific from this weekend onwards (see below), and there’s a distinct possibility that one or two Tropical Cyclones may drop south from the Fijian region, adding even more energy into the mix.
It’s too early to plan specifics, but right now we’re looking at a whole week of solid E/NE swell, in particular becoming sizeable (i.e. 5-6ft) sometime around Tuesday, peaking Wednesday, potentially a little higher, and maintaining strong energy through the rest of the week.
Let’s see how Wednesday’s model runs are looking. But.. get ready for a decent run of tropical-sourced swell.