Not a great outlook, though the swell magnets should remain workable
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 23rd July)
SE Qld Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Small N'ly swell Sat, otherwise tiny this weekend
- Minor S'ly swell at exposed northern ends and south swell magnets later Mon/Tues
- Small distant E'ly swells next weekend onwards
Northern NSW Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Small S'ly swells this weekend, and a minor N'ly swell Sat (mainly in the north)
- Small distant E'ly swell building Sat/Sun
- Flukey S'ly swells for the swell magnets Mon/Tues
- Small distant E'ly swells next weekend onwards
Thursday’s S’ly swell offered occasional 5-6ft sets at south facing beaches south of the border, but wave heights were much smaller elsewhere, and SE Qld came in slightly below forecast expectations: a slow 2ft at the outer points, bigger at exposed northern ends. Conditions were clean in general with mainly offshore winds. We’ve seen smaller surf today (easing from 3-4ft south facing beaches south of Byron) with tiny conditions in SE Qld, and light NW winds tending moderate N’ly throughout. Coupla nice thunderstorms kicking off along the Tweed Coast as I finish these notes too!
This weekend (July 24 - 25)
Not much to look forward to this weekend.
A developing N/NW flow off the SE Qld coast at the moment should kick up some small N’ly windswell for Saturday morning, but only at a few spots across the southern Gold Coast and maybe Tweed Coasts - the other regions are too sheltered or poorly aligned for this kind of local fetch.
Most beaches will only see slow 1ft, maybe 2ft waves from this source but some of the regional swell magnets could see an early 2ft+ set or so, and with winds veering NW through Saturday morning there’s a chance for a few little peaks for the grommets.
But.. we’re talking about slow, weak N’ly windswells. It’s really not worth worrying about.
Elsewhere, south of the border should continue to see small, slow S’ly swells from a series of poorly aligned fronts and lows below Tasmania a few days ago. Southern NSW picked up 2-3ft sets today and this trend will persist across Northern NSW on Saturday, but it’ll be extremely inconsistent and limited to a handful of reliable south swell magnets south of Byron. Elsewhere, expect tiny to flat conditions.
Conditions will however be clean with freshening NW tending W’ly winds.
On Sunday, a vigorous frontal passage across the south-eastern corner of the country will strengthen westerly winds, they’ll push upwards of gale force strength across the Mid North Coast (a little lighter further north) but with only small residual southerly swells across Northern NSW’s south swell magnets, there won’t be many options to surf.
The only other swell worth mentioning for the weekend is a small E’ly swell generated last weekend way out near Tahiti by a large, slow moving high pressure system. Ordinarily these kinds of systems aren’t worth looking at, but in the absence of any major swell this weekend it may just keep open beaches rideable for the grommets with inconsistent 1-2ft sets.
On the balance, keep your expectations very low this weekend.
Next week (July 26 onwards)
Once again, the weekend's strong frontal progression will be detached from polar latitudes, so we’re looking at another spell of small conditions interspersed with flukey south swells.
W/SW gales exiting extending off the Southern NSW coast on Sunday (see below) are aimed well and truly outside of our swell window, but sometimes - if there’s just a smidge of south in the fetch alignment - we can see an unusual spread of S’ly swell back up into some exposed parts of Northern NSW. On rare occasions, this can even push north of the border.
As such, keep your expectations low for Monday but it’ll be worth monitoring your favourite south swell magnet for signs of a flukey south swell that could push 2-3ft at times (tiny elsewhere, especially SE Qld). It’s a very low confidence event but rideable waves can’t be ruled out, and conditions will be clean with generally light winds.
On Tuesday we’ve got a similar chance for a small flukey south swell, originated from a secondary fetch of W/SW gales exiting eastern Bass Strait on Sunday (see above). stronger than the fetch off Southern NSW but located further away.
So again, be on the watch for small peaky waves in the 2-3ft+ range at south swell magnets - mainly south of the border - but don’t get your hopes up. One or two exposed northern ends in SE Qld may also pick up some small waves from this source but most locations won't enjoy the swell direction.
Light winds are also on the cards again so if there are waves they’ll be clean.
The Southern Ocean storm track will then remain well and truly aligned outside of our swell window for a few days, until another front crosses the Southern NSW region on Wednesday (see below), extending W/SW gales through eastern Bass Strait into Thursday morning. This may set up a brief flush of south swell for Friday though it’s like to be smaller than Tuesday’s south swell (from the same region).
As for other swell sources - a deep polar low off the ice shelf this weekend looks like it’ll be aimed a little west of our swell window, which is unusual. It’s a reasonable system and may provide some small sideband energy mid week (models are picking up a foot of S/SW swell at 13 seconds in Coffs Harbour around Thursday) but in general isn’t worth worrying about.
Otherwise, the longer term outlook maintains a similar strong zonal flow across the south-eastern corner of the country, suggesting mainly small conditions will persist with occasional minor southerly pulses.
Out to our east, and a stationary tropical depression out in the Tahitian region of the South Pacific (see below) looks like remaining anchored from this weekend through much of next week, so we may see some small but long-lived E’ly swell through the end of next week, persisting for a week or so. It’s hard to be confident on specific surf trends, but inconsistent 2ft+ sets are a possibility from this source at times. If local winds become light, this could be a source for an extended run of fun open beachies.
And, a more significant trough is expected to develop south of Fiji later next week that could provide a solid E’ly swell during the following week but this is still some time away and will require close monitoring over the coming days.
Have a great weekend, see you Monday!