Plenty of strong wind and a spike in S swell mid week before conditions settle quickly
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon Sep20)
SE Qld Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Directional S swell late Tues/ peaking Wed offers rideable wave at S exposed spots with S'ly winds a problem
- Small S swell leftovers with cleaner conditions more favourable for swell magnets
- Small S swell pulses Fri/Sat offer a rideable wave at S magnets though N'ly winds a problem
- Stronger S swell Sun with more favourable winds.
- More small S swell pulses next week
Northern NSW Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Rapid spike in directional S swell through Tues PM, biggest in NENSW with fresh S'ly winds developing
- Directional S swell peaks Wed, eases through Thurs with improving conditions as winds ease
- Long period S swell Fri favours S swell magnets, N'ly winds freshening.
- Small S swell Sat, with a bigger pulse Sun and more favourable winds
- More S swell pulses next week, stay tuned for details
A last pulse of strong ESE groundswell Sat was quickly chewed up by developing N’ly winds, although there was a brief window of more NW winds and certain backbeaches made sense of the long lines. Swell was on the decline through Sun but a shallow trough extended a SW to S’ly wind change further north than models predicted, opening up a fun, mid morning session across most of the region. Not much on offer today as small surf and freshening N’ly winds combine to make a day better suited for sails than surfboards.
This week (Sep 20-24)
A strong SW change is making it’s way up the coast as we speak but the coast-hugging low and subsequent over-sized S swell has been disappeared. Models have swung back to the original EC resolution which sees a rapid-fire, coast-hugging fetch of strong to gale force SW to S winds propagate north along the coast tomorrow before the fetch thickens up overnight Tues and then weakens and moves away during Wed. Following this rapid spike in wind and swell the week settles down quickly as strong high pressure moves in from the Bight across the south-east interior and becomes flabby, leading to settled conditions and small surf to end the working week. A semi-stalled polar low at Tasmanian longitudes through the middle of the week will send a variety of long period and mid period S swell trains our way through the end of the week and over the weekend. Read on for details.
By tomorrow morning the front will be generating strong SW to S winds, possibly gale force by the a’noon, with a low developing in the far Eastern Tasman sea anchoring the pressure gradient squeeze as a large high drifts in from the Bight. Expect the S’ly winds early morning across the North Coast, reaching the QLD border around 7 or 8 and the Sunshine Coast around lunchtime where they are likely to tend more SW.
Surf will build rapidly through the a’noon in NENSW, but quality will be low. This is very localised S’ly windswell generated from the proximate coastal fetch so don’t expect too much size to get into sheltered corners, as open stretches build into the 4-5ft range during the a’noon at S exposed beaches, much smaller elsewhere. The very directional nature of the swell and low period means SEQLD won’t seem much size at all, topping out at 2-3ft at S facing beaches on the border, smaller elsewhere.
Mid period S swell peaks o/night and early morning Wed, with 5-6ft surf through the morning at S exposed spots in NENSW, easing slightly during the day. Expect smaller 3-4ft surf at regional Points ands semi-protected spots where winds will confine surfing to. SEQLD S facing beaches will see some 3ft sets through the day. The frontal fetch and low in the Eastern Tasman are all drifting away but the ridge of high pressure is expected to maintain S’ly winds along the coast during Wed. SW winds early will open up a few more spots but there’ll be plenty of lump and bump at exposed S facing beaches Wed, so you’ll need to sacrifice some size to find clean conditions.
Thursday looks the first proper clean day as high pressure weakens and moves up into sub-tropical latitudes, bringing a light land breeze with a S’ly component ( likely W/SW to SW), which trends to a NE Seabreeze. The trend in Tasman sea generated S swell will be down, with the morning offering the most size, likely 3-4ft at S facing beaches in NENSW, grading smaller 2ft in SEQLD with some 2-3ft surf at the most notable magnets.
Wave models are picking up some S swell trains from the vast array of complex wind fields expected to be resident beneath Tasmania and a gale force fetch out of Bass Strait overnight Wed into Thursday morning. Despite the off axis nature of these fetches, aimed almost 180 degrees away from the East Coast, the sheer width of the source fetches is likely to see refraction back into the East Coast.
Thursday a’noon doesn’t look particularly impressive but it’s likely worth some 2-3ft sets at S facing beaches through the a’noon at NENSW S swell magnets, with N to NE winds becoming moderate up to dark. Surf is likely to turn to small NE gurgle in SEQLD on Thurs a’noon.
Winds become more frontal and N’ly dominated during Fri, with some small, but longer period S swell trains in the water generated by intense W and even W/NW fetches operating on an active sea state under the country mid week. These swell trains are likely to be quite particular as far as swell focussing goes, so you might need to put the thinking cap on to get the best out of the size on offer. Most beaches are likely to be close to flat, but swell magnets with S swell exposure in NENSW could easily harvest some 2-3ft surf on Fri although it’s likely to be irrelevant with freshening N to NE winds expected.
This weekend (Sep 25-26)
South swells on the menu this coming weekend, although winds are looking ordinary as a front passes through the Tasman and a high pressure ridge quickly builds a S’ly flow along the coast during Sun morning. A light to mod N’ly flow on Saturday doesn’t look fantastic either but it should be light enough to allow most backbeaches to have relatively clean conditions.
The front is associated with the deep, complex polar low finally moving along with broad fetch of SW gales covering the lower Tasman.
Swell from that source is expected Sun, across NENSW, swells from an earlier incarnation of the low generate smaller S swell for Sat, building through the a’noon into the 3ft range at S facing beaches, after a smaller start to the day. Unfortunately, that will arrive with developing NE winds so it’ll be hard to find a clean or even semi-clean wave unless you can find a backbeach that can handle that combination. Keep expectations very low for SEQLD. S swell will likely be negligible and N’ly winds will be present.
Stronger S swell from the passage of the front and low across the Tasman builds through Sunday, likely in the 3-4ft range at exposed S facing beaches across NENSW, with more favourable light S to SE winds. This offers a chance of small rideable waves in SEQLD, but keep expectations pegged, as it will be in the 2ft range at exposed S facing beaches and swell magnets.
Next week (Sep 27) and beyond
High pressure moves into the Tasman early next week as the intense frontal activity below Australia winds back a notch. GFS suggests a weak, but long and broad area of SE winds through the Central Tasman which would offer a couple of days of small SE swell early next week.
Both major models prog some weaker cold fronts passing below Tasmania early next week, suggesting more small S swell pulses into the middle of next week. The high is likely to drift into Spring-time positioning, with developing N to NE winds by mid next week.
Check back on Wed and we’ll update that upcoming pattern as well as the rest of the week and weekend.