Mixed bag of S and E swells ahead with winds favouring the Points

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 18th May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Increase in S swell Thurs, favouring NENSW with tricky SSE to SE winds
  • Stronger S swell Fri, peaking Sat, with mod SE winds
  • Mix of S and building E to E/SE short range swell Sat, peaking Sun biggest in SEQLD
  • Plenty of leftover E swell Mon, easing Tues/Wed
  • SSE groundswell favouring NENSW through Tues
  • More E swell later next week, stay tuned for updates


Small surf on offer since the last f/cast. Few E swell trains in the 2ft range yesterday with light winds. Today has seen tiny E swell in the 1-2f range with a small signal from the S in NENSW, supplying a few 2footers. Light winds today are now tending mod SSE to SE. 

Small, peaky energy in behind the flood run-off

This week (May 18-20)

A series of cold fronts with embedded troughs are now steaming into the Tasman Sea, anchored by a deep polar low which provided large swells for Victoria and New Zealand’s West Coast. Behind the frontal progression another monster high is travelling south of the Bight, ready to set up another ridge along the East Coast. We’re going to see multiple overlapping pulses of S swell over the coming days as fronts slingshot around the parent low on an active sea state, with the biggest surf coming with some dodgy winds as the high pressure ridge sets up. Following that an active tradewind pattern in the Coral Sea supplies another round of E swell.

In the short run and winds will remain S to SE through tomorrow, with a lighter period of SW’lies early. Don’t expect much size through tomorrow. Small levels of S swell in NENSW will see some 2-3ft surf at S facing beaches, with minimal size on offer in SEQLD. Just a few small E’ly leftovers in the 1-1.5ft range.

More size is expected Friday. Surf will be under-sized early with some 2-3ft sets on offer before surf fills in during the day, with lines from the South, mostly mid period with some longer period more refracted swell trains on offer. That should see 3ft surf by lunch-time and bigger 3-4ft surf through the a’noon in NENSW, with smaller 2-3ft surf in SEQLD at S swell magnets pushing up a notch during the a’noon. Winds won’t help the cause. We really need winter W’lies or Autumn offshores to get the most out of these S swells but SE winds are expected through Fri and beyond so it’s just a brief period of lighter SW to S winds inshore early before they kick in. There’ll be waves if you can deal with the winds.

This weekend (May 21-22)

No great changes to the weekend f/cast at this stage. The frontal progression and deep low will be on the other side of the Tasman, intensifying as it does into a monster storm force fetch mostly aimed at Tahiti and Northern Hemisphere targets. Sideband energy will impact the East Coast.

Winds will be the issue as high pressure moves over Tasmania with a ridge up the East Coast, stronger in sub-tropical latitudes.

Expect moderate SE to winds Sat, lighter S to SW inshore early, with winds from the SE Sun, tending more E/SE the further south you go in the f/cast region.

Swell wise, there won’t be any shortage of strong S to SSE swell. A mix of long period S and mid period SSE swell will see surf in the 3-5ft range Sat at S facing beaches in NENSW, smaller 3ft in SEQLD. Short range ESE swell will start to build in during the a’noon, more noticeably on the Sunshine Coast, which is closer to the strongest part of the tradewind fetch.

Expect a mix of swell trains through Sun, with short range E swell more prominent in SEQLD, and size up into the 4-5ft range during the day. The fetch is intensified by a trough of low pressure off the CQ or Fraser Coast, so bigger waves are likely on the Sunshine Coast.

E swell will grade smaller into NENSW, with S swell more dominant there and size in the 4ft range, although that will be at S facing beaches which will be a mess under SE/ESE winds. You’ll need to seek some wind protection Sun which will constrain the surfable locations to the Points, yet again.

Next week (May 23 onwards)

Large high pressure in the Tasman next week with a healthy trade flow through the Central and Southern Coral Sea, helped along by a trough of low pressure off the Fraser Coast and a weak low near New Caledonia. 

There’s more SSE swell on the menu, as a result of the parent polar low, becoming slow moving and re-intensifying as is moves under the South Island (see below).

The Fraser trough fizzles out during Mon and the fetch rapidly migrates E’wards towards New Caledonia.

Expect surf in the 4ft range Mon, with S swell predominant further south of Yamba and E swell bigger in SEQLD, under a weaker SE flow as he ridge starts to slacken.

A final SSE pulse is expected Tues, this one stronger than the one a few weeks ago, that was more flukey. This fetch is closer to the edge of the swell window and as such should be more reliable. Light land and seabreezes offer up excellent conditions for Tuesday with long period SSE groundswell offering up inconsistent 3-4ft sets, possibly a notch bigger at some of the more reliable S swell magnets, especially those with deep water focusing. Winds are likely to tend NE through the a’noon.

Into mid next week and beyond the high pressure slowly, slowly moves East through the Tasman. Tradewinds are located at higher latitudes, with surf concentrated in the sub-tropics. Thats likely to see surf rebuild later next week from the E as swell from Tradewinds concentrated around the remnants of the New Caledonian low send more E swell our way.

We’ll check that out on Friday.

Seeya then.


Rockethut's picture
Rockethut's picture
Rockethut Thursday, 19 May 2022 at 7:38am

Let the dam sun start shining and let the water clean up before we start talking about more swell.

adsi's picture
adsi's picture
adsi Thursday, 19 May 2022 at 9:50am

Another week of rain forecast so don't hold ya breath!

Rockethut's picture
Rockethut's picture
Rockethut Thursday, 19 May 2022 at 7:10pm

Well hopefully all these SSE winds will start to clean up the ocean at least.

tubulargreen's picture
tubulargreen's picture
tubulargreen Friday, 20 May 2022 at 2:20pm

Good time to walk the beaches and pick up the never ending piles of crap washing ashore.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Friday, 20 May 2022 at 4:49pm

So brown again.
Worst year ever round here

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 20 May 2022 at 5:10pm

It's getting a bit hard to take now.

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted Friday, 20 May 2022 at 10:54pm

It is friggen pissing down and there’s four more days of the same forecast