Thursday has a few options, otherwise nothing special
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 21st July)
SE Qld Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Pulse of S'ly swell Thurs, best suited to outer points early morning, maybe open beaches in the a'noon
- Small on Fri, only favouring northern ends as winds swing N'ly
- Small N'ly swell Sat with freshening NW tending gusty W/NW winds
- Tiny from Sun onwards through most of next week
Northern NSW Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Large, though steadily easing S'ly swell Thurs with rapidly easing winds tending variable
- Small reinforcing S'ly swell Fri (with freshening NW tending NNW winds), and another late Sat/Sun (with freshening W/NW winds)
- Minor N'ly swell Sat
- Small distant E'ly swell building Sat/Sun
- Small surf next week
Tiny to flat conditions have persisted across SE Qld for the last few days. Small residual S’ly swells have maintained 2-3ft sets across south facing beaches in Northern NSW both days. A gusty S/SW change pushed across the Mid North Coast late this afternoon and strong southerly swells are now building across the region (see J-curve on the Coffs buoy trace, below). This energy should reach the Far Northern NSW and SE Qld regions overnight.
This week (July 22 - 23)
Thursday looks interesting, mainly from a weather nerd POV, not quite as much from a surfing outlook.
We’ve got a large S’ly swell building across the coast, which came in around the 6-8ft mark across Southern NSW this afternoon. We’ll see similarly strong south swells across Northern NSW though the fetch wasn’t quite as well aimed - some of it was slightly shadowed by the Hunter curve - and it’ll mainly trend upwards, peak and then trend downwards in sync with the accompanying strong winds, perhaps with a 4-6 hour lag. Most of which is happening right now.
It’s very likely that the Mid North Coast through to about Ballina will peak in size tonight, under the cover of darkness, and then trend down from well before dawn onwards. Other coasts north from Ballina will peak through the morning then trend down into the afternoon.
As for size, we’re looking at wind affected 5-6ft+ sets at south facing beaches south of Byron early morning - maybe a few bigger sets across the Northern Rivers - but much smaller surf at beaches not open to the south, and easing through the day. Winds will rapidly moderate from the SW through the morning, becoming light and variable into the afternoon. So, aim for the afternoon as things will have settled back by then.
These kinds of south swells really aren’t good for the Gold Coast, mainly because of the direction, which is heavily shadowed. Though, sometimes we see a brief pulse of disproportionally high energy for an hour or two at the head of the swell. Is this happens, it'll be sometime early morning.
Otherwise, more broadly speaking, early morning should see inconsistent 2-3ft sets across the southern Gold Coast points, but it’ll be smaller across the Sunshine Coast, and easing slowly into the afternoon.
Exposed northern ends and south swell magnets north of the border will be a couple of feet bigger but they will feel the effects of overnight SW tending S/SW winds - though they'll ease during the day to become light and variable later.
As for Friday, expect a steady downwards trend and a freshening N/NW breeze, that may be NW early morning across a few locations. It’ll become gusty into the afternoon too. South facing beaches south of Byron will be your best bet with lingering 3-4ft sets at south facing beaches, smaller elsewhere. North of the border there won’t be much size away from south swell magnets, which may see stray 3ft+ sets early.
A small reinforcing S’ly swell from a brief low south of Tasmania today will build across the Northern NSW coast during Friday, keeping south swell magnets in the 3ft range.
This weekend (July 24 - 25)
Some of the model guidance is suggesting Friday’s N’ly flow will become quite broad and sustained off the SE Qld coast.
This suggests a possible morning peak of N’ly windswell across exposed coasts, up to 2-3ft at north swell magnets such as the southern Gold Coast and parts of the Northern Rivers, but smaller surf across the Sunshine Coast and anywhere south of Ballina. Size will then ease into the afternoon.
Anyway, this is about the most interesting swell source for the weekend. A large blocking high near Tahiti last weekend has generated a minor E’ly swell that’ll provide inconsistent 1-2ft sets both days, and another poorly aligned front/low south of Tasmania on Thursday may send a small flush of south swell for south swell magnets south of Byron later Saturday and Sunday - but it’ll be lucky to be a couple of slow feet at best.
Winds are due to swing fresh NW early Saturday then gusty W/SW for the rest of the weekend as a series of vigorous fronts cross the eastern states, so it’s going to be clean and blustery but without a lot of size on offer.
Let’s see how that brief N’ly swell is looking in Friday’s update.
Next week (July 26 onwards)
The outlook for this weekend’s strong Long Wave Trough progression across the south-eastern corner of the country and into the Tasman Sea has been titled slightly away from our primary swell window early next week, so right now we’ve got a small pulse of south swell on the cards for Monday (Northern NSW only) possibly originating from W/SW gales projecting off the Southern NSW coast on Sunday.
This is a very flukey, low confidence event though, and will likely swing around as the models update over the coming days. So, don't get your hopes up.
The rest of the week looks quite similar with more vigorous fronts crossing the eastern states, most of which look like they’ll steer around the favourable parts of our swell window. Argh.
So, despite a dynamic synoptic chart that would otherwise suggest plenty of size, we’re potentially staring down the barrel of small windy options for quite a few days.
I’ll take a closer look on Friday.