Easterly swells keep on keeping on
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Mon 18th Apr)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Easterly swells to hold all week, biggest south of the border
- Good winds early Tues, though afternoon N'lies will spoil the Mid North Coast
- NW winds favouring open beaches Wed
- S/SE flow redeveloping from Thurs onwards, becoming gusty over the weekend
- Solid mix of E'ly swells building over the weekend
- More E'ly swell to persist next week, probably with similar SE winds
Pumping waves for the last three days with steady east swells maintaining 4-5ft waves across Northern NSW, a little smaller in SE Qld and the Mid North Coast. Winds have been out of the southern quadrant so the points have offered the cleanest, smoothest waves. Image below from Sunday at the Superbank.
This week (Apr 19 - 22)
The northern Tasman trough that generated the last few days of east swell has intensified a small new fetch just off the west coast of New Zealand's North Island (see below).
This will generate a couple of pulses of east swell, that'll keep the coast flush with energy through most of this week. However, it is aimed mainly towards Southern NSW so we'll see decreasing heights with increasing northerly latitude.
Wave heights should maintain 3-4ft sets in Northern NSW on Tuesday (a little smaller near 2-3ft n SE Qld, smaller again on the points), but then rebuild through Wednesday - though biggest across the Mid North Coast (3-5ft), with smaller surf (3-4ft) across Far Northern NSW and then 2-3ft surf across open beaches in SE Qld. The points will be correspondingly smaller as per usual; swell direction will be a little more SE across northern locations owing to the more southern position of the easterly swell source.
Surf size will then gradually ease through Thursday.
As for conditions, we've got some tricky winds ahead, mainly for the Mid North Coast. A trough passing across Southern NSW will freshen northerlies across this region on Tuesday though locations north from about Yamba should see generally light winds and sea breezes.
A southerly change will slip up the Southern NSW coast on Wednesday, reaching the Mid North Coast late afternoon. Ahead of it, winds should freshen NW, providing a nice day of clean beachbreaks across most coasts.
And then from Thursday onwards we'll enter another period of S/SE winds as a ridge builds across the Northern Tasman Sea and into the Qld coast, reminiscent of summer.
Also in the mix on Thursday will be a brief south swell in Northern NSW, but it probably won't deliver much more than 2-3ft sets at south facing beaches.
Friday has a stronger southerly groundswell for Northern NSW, generated by the parent front/low to the Thursday southerly change (see in the chart below), positioned well southwest of Tasmania on Tuesday/Wednesday. This should rebuild wave heights into the 3-5ft range at south facing beaches, on the Mid North Coast, smaller elsewhere (and not much in SE Qld). With freshening S/SE winds across the region, only protected locations will have worthwhile options.
SE Qld looks to see building short range SE swells on Friday, in sync with the strengthening ridge. However the low periods will probably favour only small surf at the regional semi-exposed points (exposed locations will become blown out).
This weekend (Apr 23 - 24)
A stationary ridge stretching from Far Northern Qld across the Coral Sea and into the Northern Tasman Sea isn't a typical synoptic feature for late April, but it hasn't really been a typical year anyway.
The good news is that this ridge will build mid-range SE swells across all coasts, though we've actually got a more prominent swell source developing over the coming days that will provide the bulk energy to the region this weekend.
The remnants of the Tasman trough - responsible for the weekend's east swell plus the upcoming easterly energy this week - will reform a second time, NE of New Zealand around Tuesday (see below), reaching maturity around Wednesday and Thursday.
This fetch has been upgraded in the last few model runs so we're looking at some really nice E/NE groundswell building through Saturday, reaching a peak on Sunday afternoon with inconsistent 3-5ft sets at open beaches in Northern NSW, a little smaller in SE Qld (owing to the fetch alignment, which will be slightly more to the southern regions).
Surf size is expected to build steadily on Saturday, reaching a peak on Sunday with 4-5ft+ sets at exposed locations in Northern NSW (smaller running down the points). SE Qld may be a fraction smaller overall, especially across the points.
The only downer in the outlook is that the accompanying fresh SE winds will limit surfable options to sheltered southern corners and protected points, which will condense the weekend crowds into a small number of locations.
But, given the plethora of quality surfing options over the last six months (and especially the last six weeks), I suspect this particular swell combo probably won't create quite the bum-rush we'd expected, had it arrived at the end of an extended spell of northerly winds.
So, there'll be waves this weekend, very much like summer.
Next week (Apr 25 onwards)
Early indications are for the aforementioned, unseasonable ridge to remain entrenched through the Coral Sea for next week, maintaining steady, if initially elevated trade swells across the region for most of the week.
So, there's no letup in the surf outlook for our region.
The vigorous Southern Ocean storm track alluded to in previous forecast notes has been pushed a little further south, and more zonal (west-east) in orientation, which has suppresed size expectations for the medium term outlook - though there still appears to be a neverending source of small, long period southerly swell for Northern NSW for the forseeable future too.
See you Wednesday!