Sunday, Monday, Happy Days (Tues, Wed, happy days too)
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Fri 29th Apr)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Building E'ly swells from Saturday thru' to a peak Tues/Wed
- Easing from Thurs but likely to hold into the next weekend and beyond
- Chance for a small, flukey long period S/SE swell in Northern NSW on Sat, easing Sun (low probability though)
- Risk of N'ly winds on Sat (mainly south from Ballina)
- Fresh S'ly winds developing Sun, holding Mon, easing Tues
- Light winds Wed
Small E’ly swells in the 2ft range on Thursday bumped up a touch today with occasional 3ft sets. There’s also been some minor south swell in the mix across Northern NSW. Onshore winds have maintained lumpy conditions but they haven’t been too detrimental.
This weekend (Apr 30 - May 1)
OK, before we move on to the obvious sources of surf for the weekend, it’s worth noting an unusual long period S/SE swell that’s showing on the charts for Saturday, mainly across Northern NSW.
Its origin is unclear, as I’ve temporarily stepped back to the Forecast bench today, however a quick scan of the hindcast charts (below) shows a phenomenal polar low well SE of New Zealand last Tuesday, generating a Code Red swell for Tahiti - but it’s just on the periphery of our flukey SE swell window and will probably generate some small sideband intermittent energy for Australia's East Coast.
The raw data (just under a metre at 14.5 seconds) suggests extremely inconsistent 2-3ft sets at regional swell magnets (south of Byron) building Saturday, easing slowly Sunday, but to be honest I’d be very way of anything from this source as the fetch developed very close to the NZ swell shadow, and quickly rotated away. So keep your expectations low and be pleasantly surprised if it produces anything at all.
Elsewhere, a broad trade flow developing in the northern Tasman Sea and South Pacific is already generating E/NE energy for our region, and we’ll see wave heights increase from 3ft on Saturday morning up to about 4ft by Sunday. The width and length of the fetch coupled with its distance from the mainland should offer comparable size across most coasts, though of course SE Qld and Far Northern NSW tend to do best under these patterns.
As for local conditions, an approaching front across Southern NSW will freshen northerly winds throughout the Mid North Coast on Saturday. We won’t see anywhere near as much influence north from about Ballina but early variable winds will probably trend N/NE during the day so make the most of the early variable session for the best waves.
A shallow southerly change will slide up the coast overnight Saturday and provide clean conditions under an early SW flow on Sunday, before winds tend moderate to fresh S’ly or even S/SE through the day. This will favour the semi-exposed points and sheltered spots.
Next week (May 2 onwards)
The broad trade pattern supplying the weekend’s easterly swell source will become enhanced over the coming days as a tropical low between New Caledonia and Fiji this weekend squeezes the synoptic flow (see below).
This will continue to build surf size through Monday ahead of a lengthy plateau from Tuesday into Wednesday, probably around 4-5ft at most coasts though a couple of the more reliable swell magnets (I’m thinking Far Northern NSW) could pick up 6ft sets at times. Of course, sheltered spots and some of the points will see smaller surf than exposed beaches.
Wave heights will then slowly taper off from Thursday onwards. However, another trough is modelled to develop south of New Caledonia around Mon/Tues and could very well boost surf size again from this quadrant later in the week.
Regardless, it’s likely we’ll see user-friendly easterly swells persisting through next weekend and maybe the start of the following week too. This is yet another extended, great run of swell for the region.
As for winds, Sunday’s S/SE flow will hold through Monday then ease from Tuesday. So, our peak in east swell should be accompanied by generally favourable conditions (Wednesday is looking at light offshores and afternoon sea breezes in most regions).
There’s a couple of flukey secondary swell sources in the outlook period too, but with such a strong forecast from the east they really doesn’t matter too much.
Have a great weekend, see you Monday!