Lotta swell, coupla windows of opportunity
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 19th July)
SE Qld Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Tiny leftovers Tues/Wed
- Reasonable tho' windy S'ly swell Thurs AM, easing during the day
- Small and N'ly Fri
- Small distant E'ly swell building Sat/Sun, clean with offshore winds
Northern NSW Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Small clean leftovers Tues
- Very large S'ly swell building Wed (late in the north), but very windy
- Steadily easing S'ly swell Thurs with rapidly easing winds
- Small reinforcing S'ly swell Fri (with moderate N winds), and another late Sat/Sun (with freshening W/NW winds)
- Small distant E'ly swell building Sat/Sun
- Stacks of south swell next week
Saturday saw tiny to flat conditions across much of SE Qld, but Northern NSW picked up small lines of inconsistent southerly swell, around the 2ft mark. A fresh S’ly swell built across the Northern NSW coast on Saturday, reaching 3-5ft at south facing beaches south of Byron by late afternoon though the direction wasn’t really favourable for SE Qld away from a handful of south swell magnets. We’ve seen a similar size range across Northern NSW this morning, with SE Qld largely dipping out, except for south swell magnets like D’Bah which saw 2-3ft sets through the morning (photo below showing one bigger bomb too). Conditions have been generally good all weekend and this morning under W’ly breezes, though freshening northerlies this afternoon have made for late bumpy conditions as the south swell starts to ease back.
This week (July 20 - 23)
All eyes are on an advancing cold front that’s expected to sweep across the NSW coast from Tuesday night into Wednesday.
Prior to its arrival, we’ll see freshening W’ly tending W/NW winds on Tuesday, and easing S’ly swells.
We’ve seen abating size across Southern NSW today and that trend will prevail across Northern NSW on Tuesday though some south swell magnets south of Byron may pick up stray 2-3ft sets - but it’s not worth working around. We may also see a small unusual sideband S’ly swell from W/SW gales developing off the Central and Southern NSW coast early Tuesday morning (arriving into the afternoon), though again, this is a flukey, unreliable swell source and shouldn’t be considered seriously.
Elsewhere, and overall, expect tiny to flat conditions on Tuesday.
The change is expected to reach the lower Mid North Coast mid-late Wednesday morning, with strengthening W’ly tending SW then S/SW winds through the day that’ll become squally for a period. The Far Northern NSW coast and SE Qld won’t see the strongest winds until overnight, and even then it’ll be a gradual shift from the W/SW to the SW then S/SW.
These winds will quickly build stormy southerly swells across the coast, reaching a late peak across the Mid North Coast in the 6-8ft+ range though size is likely to peak overnight and into Thursday morning in the Far North and into SE Qld.
The local source of the swell will ensure a quick up-and-down event, so options will be limited to sheltered southern corners and points later Wednesday and Thursday, and these locations will be significantly smaller.
SE Qld will pick up much smaller surf too. I’m not expecting much of an upwards trend by late Wednesday so Thursday is your best chance for the most size, though most of the energy will bypass the coast enroute to New Caledonia. Outer Gold Coast points should see an early peak in the 3ft range (slightly smaller Sunshine Coast) and exposed northern ends/south facing beaches will probably be another two or three feet bigger, but very wind affected.
The good news for Northern NSW on Thursday is that size will trend down steadily during the day (5-6ft+ to 3-5ft at south facing beaches south of Byron, smaller elsewhere) and conditions should rapidly improve as winds quickly ease and tend light offshore. In fact, weak afternoon sea breezes are possible.
By Friday, we’ll be back to much smaller surf with a risk of northerly winds as a trough approaches from the west. The models are suggesting a fair drop in size, but I think we’ll probably see some good (though very inconsistent) sets in the 3ft range at south facing beaches south of Byron in the afternoon, originating from a strong but poorly aligned front south of Tasmania late Wed/Thurs (essentially the trailing secondary front behind the main system generating Wednesday’s peak - see below).
These kinds of swells tend to favour just a smaller percentage of locations, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye out as the northerly breeze is not expected to be overly strong.
This weekend (July 24 - 25)
Model guidance suggests a tiny weekend with fresh offshore winds.
However, the models aren’t picking up a small long period S’ly groundswell very well, for Northern NSW on Saturday afternoon or Sunday. It’ll be generated by yet another power, though poorly aligned Southern Ocean low tracking well below the continent this week (see below), immediately behind the flukey source mentioned above for Friday.
Ordinarily, the zonal orientation of the storm track (west-east) isn’t favourable for our region, however the further south you go toward the poles, the more the fetch starts to line up within our acute south swell window - only a little bit though.
As such, although we’ll start off a little smaller early on, I think we’ll pick up extremely inconsistent but well lined up southerly swell lines in the 2-3ft+ range later Saturday and Sunday, at beaches with good exposure to the south.
Also, a large blocking high sitting way out near Tahiti over the last few days should provide some small long range E’ly swell for most coasts this weekend too.
The timing isn’t great, but with W/NW winds both days there’ll be fun - though very inconsistent - beaches across most stretches. Let’s peg size around the 2ft mark from this source.
Next week (July 26 onwards)
We’ve got another big beefy round of fronts due next week from another amplifying node of the Long Wave Trough. Which, suggests a lotta wind and a lotta south swell from Monday onwards, favouring Northern NSW once again. It’s too early to pin down specifics though.
See you Wednesday!