Large, unruly surf with onshore winds on the cards, easing over the weekend
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 11th May)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Short range E swell building in Wed under fresh E to E/SE winds
- Large and unruly surf from Thurs/Fri as surface low drifts off NQLD into Coral Sea
- Large surf Sat with N'ly winds, surf easing (though still large Sun) with light winds
- Surf easing through Mon, with fun leftover E swell and light winds for early next week
Surf has deteriorated over most of the region (apart from protected Points) over the last 24 hrs as a deep onshore flow becomes established. There was a clean window yesterday morning with generally 2-3ft of surf from the E’ly quadrant before onshore winds kicked in and blew it out. Today has seen a more generalised deep, E’ly onshore flow with messy 3-5ft surf across the region. Surfable options were confined to a handful of the most protected Points.
This week (May 11-13)
No great changes to the front end of this weather/surf event, which is starting to kick into gear now. The latter stages have been wound back a few notches, reducing the expected wave heights over the peak of the swell although we are still expecting big surf. Let’s take a look at it.
A large 1037 hPa high is occupying the Central Tasman Sea with a solid ridge established along most of the East Coast. A long interior trough and developing trough/low off the North QLD coast are tightening the pressure gradient along most of the ridge, bringing fresh onshore winds and a deep E’ly pattern to the majority of Tasman Sea and Central/Southern Coral Sea. A trough forms a surface low later today off the NQLD coast, drifting south through Thurs and Friday before fading out and tracking back NE towards New Caledonia.
In the short run, the high maintains a solid ridge with fresh E’ly winds, tending more E/NE to NE through the North Coast to Mid North Coast. It won’t be a pleasant day with the strong onshores but surf will build up into the chunky 6ft range. The innermost protected Points will be the only options and even they will be wind affected.
E to NE winds stay fresh during Friday 13th. The Coral Sea will be inflamed with 30knot E’ly winds, with a complex low off the CQ coast and extending out to New Caledonia. That will generate large surf with an initial smaller start before the bulk of strong E/NE swell fills in during the a’noon. Expect 4-6ft surf, pulsing into the 8ft range during the a’noon, under atrocious wind conditions. Most likely a lay day with less than a handful of novelty spots or extreme inner Points surfable.
This weekend (May 14-15)
Surf will still be large and unruly this weekend, although heights have been wound back a fair bit due to the low contracting back towards New Caledonia as opposed to sitting off Fraser Island. Size in the 8-10ft range through the morning will ease back into the 6-8ft range during the day.
The strong proximate wind field does ease through Sat, although we are still looking at E/NE to NE winds in the moderate range, easing during the day with plenty of lump and bump through the swell. Banks are also likely to have been hammered after Thurs/Fri’s onslaught from the E/NE.
Light winds are on the cards for Sun, E to E/SE in SEQLD, more E to NE in NSW. We’ll see easing surf through Sun, with size in the 5-6ft range, dropping back further into the 3-4ft range by close of play.
Keep expectations pegged for Sunday; storm banks are likely to be the order of the day but there will be somewhere with rideable waves on offer if you can find a decent bit of sand.
Next week (May 16 onwards)
Quiet start to next week now with the expected frontal activity being shunted southwards and the winds now quite zonal (W-E).
The Coral Sea low drifts off on the backside of New Caledonia with a weak trade flow through the Coral Sea maintaining some small fun E swell, biggest Mon, with leftover 3-4ft sets, smaller during the day.
Weak high pressure sees light winds with surf dropping back into the 2-3ft range through Tues and Wed. With light winds expected, there’ll be some cleaner surf on offer.
Models are still divergent on fronts passing through the lower Tasman next week which suggests we could be in for substantial revision on Fri or Mon as far as S swell goes.
At this stage we’re looking at frontal passages of mostly zonal winds through mid next week, suggesting small/mod S swell by Fri next week. Winds are still up in the air so we’ll review that on Fri.
We’re also tracking a renewal in tradewind activity SE of New Caledonia later next week and monitoring continuing troughiness in the sub-tropical Tasman Sea, which could see more low pressure activity kick off. We’ll update all that on Friday.