Cleaner days ahead late this week before N'lies arrive on the weekend

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed Sep15)

SE Qld Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Moderate S to SSE swell holding Thurs with S’ly winds continuing
  • Better angled SE swell Fri PM, easing slowly through Sat with good AM winds
  • N’ly winds on the weekend 
  • More S swell next Tues/Wed next week, favouring NENSW

Northern NSW Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Stronger S to SSE swell  holding Thurs with a brief period of favourable winds AM before S’lies return
  • Better angled SE swell Fri, easing into Sat with good AM winds
  • N’ly winds on the weekend 
  • More S swell next Tues/Wed next week, favouring NENSW
  • Small S pulses likely into next weekend, stay tuned for details


Southerly winds have generally hampered conditions over the last couple of days, with junky short period S windswell the dominant swell train. Size has bumped up a notch today as a Tasman low and associated cradling fetch starts to build wave heights across the region and wave-lengths draw out a bit. Surf was a weak-ish 3ft across exposed breaks and semi-exposed spots today in NENSW with some smaller and surfable 2ft surf across SEQLD swell magnets. Nothing great, but enough to get wet and find a fun wave if you weren’t too fussy.

This week (Sep 15-17)

This weeks Tasman low formed yesterday,  roughly due east of Coffs Harbour and is now in the process of drifting ESE towards the North Island. The latest ASCAT (satellite windspeed) passes show a healthy looking system, though with only a tight core of severe gales aimed up the Tasman Pipe towards South Pacific targets. The broad supporting fetch is better aimed at the East Coast but not especially strong and the system is quite mobile, drifting away through today and briefly flaring up tomorrow as it moves over New Zealand overnight Thursday. A residual trailing fetch out of Cook Strait and adjacent to the North Island through Fri is now weaker than Mondays f/cast notes but will provide a small tail end to the swell. 

High pressure drifting east of Tasmania through tomorrow sees pressure gradients weaken during the day but a S’ly through SE’ly flow is still on the cards, especially in SEQLd where the high pressure ridge is strongest. A diurnal SW or SSW flow is possible, especially south of of the border and the Southern Gold Coast, but S’ly winds are likely to kick up a notch at some point before tending SE and laying down through the a’noon. 

Surf wise, size is expected to peak in the 3-5ft range at exposed breaks in NENSW, with quality slowly increasing as the shorter period swell trains drop out of the mix. More sheltered spots will be smaller and into SEQLD size will grade down into the 3ft range at exposed spots.  Expect the wind to moderate the further south you are in NSW, although there’ll still be plenty of lump and bump around from the prevailing S’lies over the preceding days.

Friday looks a better for the first proper clean day of the working week, especially in NENSW. With high pressure drifting north-east adjacent to the central NSW coast a longer period of light offshore breezes should extend into the mid-late morning before winds tend SE  and then E/NE in NENSW. Lighter E/SE winds are likely in SEQLD.  Unfortunately size will be on the small side after all that wind we endured. Open exposed beaches will be in the 3-4ft range, likely smaller 2-3ft north of the border, before a longer period SE pulse fills in later in the day.  Winds will be onshore by then but if you can stomach some lump and bump it may well be worth hunting down a wave. 

This weekend (Sep 18-19)

Not much change to the weekend f/cast. Sat AM looks the best of it, with a kick in ESE swell late Fri holding into Sat morning and waves in the 3ft+ range, possibly some 4ft sets at exposed magnets. Light NW to N winds early before winds freshen during the day, as pre-frontal N’lies freshen and confine surfing to backbeaches with some protection from the wind.

Sunday still needs a little finessing depending on the strength of the trailing fetch out of Cook Strait later Fri. At this stage, keep expectations pegged, but some 2-3ft surf is likely with NW winds on offer as the first in a series of fronts sweeps across the state it’ll be worth pursuing at favourably disposed backbeaches. Small amounts of NE windswell could be in the mix as well, depending on the strength of N’lies proximate to the coast on Saturday. Surf could get a slight upgrade on Fri if the Cook Strait fetch over-achieves. Winds looks a bit flukey through the PM with a shallow trough bringing SE to NE winds across the Mid North Coast to North Coast, more N'ly in SEQLD. 

Next week (Sep 20) and beyond

Plenty of approaching action from the Southern Ocean next week as a series of polar lows approach and pass through the Tasman, with associated cold fronts. Still some model divergence on the fate of these fronts as they approach the Tasman, so revision is likely on Friday.

W’ly winds are likely to iron out surf to tiny/flat on Mon so we can dial that in.

Gales out of Bass Strait Mon, despite being very zonal (W to E) and aimed at New Zealand targets are likely to see a small amount of refracted S swell Tuesday in NENSW, with W’ly winds tending more WSW to SW through the day as a more serious cold front fetch pushes NE into the Tasman late in the day. This is likely to see a steep increase in S swell later Tuesday or early Wed in NENSW possibly up into the 5-6ft range at S facing beaches.

SEQLD is likely to stay tiny/flat through Tuesday, with a morning kick in new S swell in the 2-3ft range at S facing beaches.

GFS has a much stronger fetch- basically covering the entire Central Tasman with SW gales- than EC, bringing a substantial S swell into play for Wed with fresh SW winds, easing during the day as the front pushes across the Tasman and pressure gradients ease.

More fronts pass from the middle of next week, more zonal than meridional, suggesting a series smaller S pulses into latter next week for NENSW and the weekend. SEQLD is likely to see a period of tiny surf.  This will be subject to revision on Fri so check back then for a full analysis.


Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021 at 5:53pm

This morning was sort of sneaky pumping. Not pumping Green Bush , pipe or Tombies . Not even pumping Racetrack, but for sure sneaky pumping for East coast dribble. 3 feet and running with power pushing down the line and lips to hit repeatedly. 6 blokes out.


Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021 at 5:53pm

just had a late check, raggedy 3ft here, then I saw a 4 wave 4ft+ set ,then nothing

looks like it scoured the bank out again....sad face

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 12:59pm

Surprisingly good fun this morning if you could find a clean face.

scrotina's picture
scrotina's picture
scrotina Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 1:08pm

Hey FR, reckon a peak in wave heights across se qld tomorrow morning?

Rockethut's picture
Rockethut's picture
Rockethut Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 1:32pm

Good question scrotum.

richard187's picture
richard187's picture
richard187 Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 2:03pm

Good waves today in protected bays swell must be more east than forecast.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 2:27pm

Solid though very wind affected on the Tweed. Not 6ft, but not far off. Easy 4-5ft, sweepy as hell. No surfable options for my eyes.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 2:37pm

It's definitely chunked up here, but big sets really random and slow.

the main bulk of sets are 3-4ft, then a 5ft'er out of the blue.

Seems like some longer period SE swell trains in amongst the dominant SSE swell- which would explain better refraction size into more sheltered spots.
Looks quite small down the end of the Superbank though.

ASCAT pass shows the low moved away quite quickly.
I think this size should hold o'night into tomorrow morning Scrotina, with a backdown before that next pulse fills in later.

Wind is supposed to be laying down this a'noon but it's still 20+ knots across the region, so it might take pressure gradients a little more time to ease than f/cast.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 at 6:34pm

Can we elaborate on popcorn out to sea? A hour after a 20 knot seabeeeze has kicked in?

I like but has opened up multiple possibilities. Popped beanbag? Himolayas from above? Whack-a-gandlaf?