Funky weekend with some tradewind swell on the radar for next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri Sep24)

SE Qld Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small S swell pulse Sat offer a rideable wave at S magnets though N'ly winds a problem
  • Stronger S swell Sun with developing short period SE swell with SE winds
  • Small S swell leftovers Mon with SE winds
  • Small peaky tradewind swell developing Tues, slowly building through Wed/Thurs, holding Fri with increasing NE winds
  • Stronger E swell possible into October, revision likely

Northern NSW Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small S swell Sat with N'ly winds, tending SE in the a'noon
  • Stronger S swell Sun with SE winds
  • S swell leftovers Mon with SE winds
  • Small peaky tradewind swell developing Tues, likely to persist through to Fri (not significant south of Yamba)
  • Stronger E swell possible into October, revision likely


Yesterday saw the last of the Tasman sea generated S swell with some fun 3-4ft surf across NENSW, easing in size and consistency through the a’noon. SEQLD saw a smaller 2-3ft signal, which also eased back during the day. Today has seen mostly marginal surf in the 2ft range, slightly bigger at S swell magnets in NENSW, with deteriorating conditions across most beaches as NE winds freshened from mid-morning. Long period S swell is starting to show across the NSW wave buoy array but there is only a small signal being observed at S facing beaches.

This weekend (Sep 25-26)

Not much change expected for the weekend forecast. Weak high pressure is now drifting off sub-tropical NSW, with a light northerly flow across most of the state. A strong front and deep 965hPa low SW of Tasmania is poised to enter the Tasman sea, bringing a S’ly change tomorrow, with a high pressure ridge building in rapidly behind the change. 

A long period S swell pulse is expected tomorrow morning, but despite strong sets in Sydney/Hunter this morning caution seems appropriate as the current pulse has gone missing on the Mid North Coast. Long period S swell from these deep southern sources is particularly flukey in areas north of Coffs. With only a brief period of NW winds expected before winds tend NE and freshen it looks a very marginal call. Optimistically, we can expect some 3ft sets at S facing beaches in NENSW, grading smaller 2ft in SEQLD. 

Winds shift S/SE later in the day, reaching the Mid North Coast around lunch-time, Ballina area mid a’noon and the border on dark or just after. That may open up a few late options with mixed S groundswell and NE windswell but again, this is a sketchy call not worth rearranging a schedule for.

Sunday will have more surf on offer, though with plenty of SE wind you’ll need to tuck in behind a headland and lose a lot of the size on offer as wind and swell will be coming from the same direction. An initial burst of short/mid period S swell should see 3-4ft surf, before a stronger pulse rebuilds wave heights into the 4ft range in NENSW through the post lunch session. Expect smaller 2-3ft surf in SEQLD, with short period SSE/SE swell dominating more directional S swell trains.  Again, you’ll have to sacrifice size to find quality at more sheltered corners unless you can handle some rough and tumble surface conditions.

Next week (Sep 27) and beyond

High pressure sits off the Central NSW coast during the early part of next week, with a following high located even further south, essentially suppressing the Southern Ocean storm track. The high then drifts East, establishing a trade-wind flow in the Coral Sea and extending out into the South Pacific later in the week. This offers up reasonable swell potential for our region, although models are still divergent on the resolution of this pattern.

Plenty of leftover S swell on Mon with residual swell trains likely to see 3-4ft surf at S facing beaches in NENSW and easing through the day. SEQLD will see a mix of S and short period SE swell trains in the water, with size in the 2-3ft range. The high pressure ridge weakens during the day, with mod SE winds abating and tending to light ESE to E winds during the a’noon. 

Tuesday’s surf potential will depend on exposure to S swell with NENSW seeing an easing mix of Tasman Sea S swell with some early 3ft sets, dropping right back during the day. This swell source is likely to offer a few 2ft sets in SEQLD with short period ESE swell in the 2-3ft range more prominent. With light morning winds on offer a few fun peaks are on the menu before light E to NE winds puff up. 

By mid next week there’s a good coverage of tradewinds in the Coral Sea, extending from New Caledonia down to the Fraser Coast, with fresh breezes to strong winds. It’s not a Gold Medal winning tradewind fetch but it’s good enough to start to push wave heights up into the 3ft range in SEQLD, slightly bigger on the Sunshine Coast due to proximity to the fetch. Winds won’t be fabulous, tending light E to NE and freshening during the a’noon but there should be fun, punchy peaks at backbeaches. Expect this tradewind surf to diminish the further south you go, with areas south of Yamba likely to see only weak 2ft surf and a greater quotient of NE windswell through Wed and Thursday. 

This windswell is likely to see surf in the 3ft range through Thurs, especially on the Mid North Coast. 

Northerly winds freshen through the end of next week as the high continues to drift towards New Zealand, maintaining the tradewind fetch as it contracts eastwards. 

Typically tradewind swells improve in quality as the fetch “matures” and wavelengths draw out. This tendency will be mitigated by freshening N’lies but does offer good prospects for backbeaches throughout the entire region. 

Expect 3ft+ surf through Thursday, with a mix of tradewind swells and NE windswell. More NE winds swell component the further south in NENSW you are located.

Surf potential into the medium term depends on the tradewind fetch as it migrates into the South Pacific. There is significant model divergence towards the end of next week and into the start of October. ECMWF intensifies the fetch as an easterly dip/trough feature develops in the swell window SW of New Caledonia. This scenario would see a solid increase in E’ly swell later into next weekend and into the week beginning 4/10.

GFS has a much tamer ending with the fetch fizzling out as it drifts out of the swell window. Under that scenario a slow tailing off in E’ly swell would occur through next weekend.

Keep fingers crossed and we’ll check back Mon to see how this potential swell is shaping up.

Have a great weekend.













Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67's picture
Surfalot67 Friday, 24 Sep 2021 at 5:21pm

Well that sounds particularly shit for SEQ. Bummer, the groms wont get their usual pumping school holidays. Spring....Great forecast notes though Steve!

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Friday, 24 Sep 2021 at 8:13pm

Really appreciating these forecasts, Freeride.

Erudite, comprehensive and accurate. I’m learning quite a bit which is handy.

Much obliged.

Mad Dog's picture
Mad Dog's picture
Mad Dog Monday, 27 Sep 2021 at 1:35pm

Yeah ditto here Blowin.

Enjoying the succinct explanations and lack of over speculating, which has led to a couple of memorable surfs over the last few weeks that outperformed expectations.

simsurf's picture
simsurf's picture
simsurf Monday, 27 Sep 2021 at 3:43pm

big sigh