A week full of E swell, with offshore winds at the end of it
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 23rd May)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- SE Pattern continues until mid week
- Plenty of leftover E swell Mon, holding Tues/ easing a notch Wed
- SSE groundswell favouring NENSW through Tues
- E swell rebuilds from Thurs as surface low forms off Fraser Coast
- Chunky E swell peaks Fri in SEQLD, Sat in NENSW, with winds tending SW/S as low moves south
- Easing E swell Sun with offshore winds
- W'ly winds and tiny surf likely by mid next week, stay tuned for updates
Wet conditions have been a constant across the region, in fact across most of the East Coast. There’s been building short range E/SE swell across the region with SE winds confining surf to the Points. Size was in the 3ft range Sat, 3-4ft Sun and today has thickened up with stronger lines in the 4ft range. This patten will extend for a few more days before easing through the latter of the week. Details below.
This week (May 23-27)
A large (1031 hPa) high has been incredibly sluggish over the weekend, barely moving from it’s position over Tasmania, and as such a ridge along the East Coast has only slightly began to break down. Sub-tropical troughs and the remnants of TC Gina near New Caledonia are maintaining a deep E’ly flow through the Coral Sea while the last in a series of powerful cold fronts are now sweeping up past the South Island of New Zealand with small S to SSE swell pulses to come over the next couple of days from this source.
In the short run and SE winds are on the menu- you won’t be surprised to hear. They will persist through until Wed at current strengths- with periods of lighter and more variable winds around rain squalls.
There will be plenty of E swell this week with Tues holding at similar size as today- in the 3-4ft range- and best waves on the Points. The movement will be down slightly through Wed as the fetch gets truncated from the eastern edge as the remnants of TC Gina quickly slide away to the SE graveyard.
That will see a small easing in size Wed, although still with size in the 3ft range and waves on the Points at appropriate tidal phases.
Through the latter part of the week we will see a rebuild in size as a large area of low pressure in the Coral Sea consolidates and likely forms a new surface low off the WideBay/Fraser Coast, probably early Thurs. That will see the E’ly wind field adjacent to SEQLD and moving southwards into NENSW increase and swells build during the day, likely back into the 3-4ft range Thurs.
This increase extends into Fri, likely up into the 4-5ft range, bigger 5-6ft on the Gold Coast. Winds will be the main factor. Depending on the low position and movement it’s likely we will see winds freshening from the S through NENSW, with winds tending SW through SEQLD as the low moves southwards and the outflow from the western flank becomes the synoptic wind. Stay tuned for details and we’ll finesse it through the week. Friday looks the goods at this stage.
Just a note to add: there will be some small amounts of long period SSE swell in the mix this week, but due to the prevailing SE pattern and dominant E’ly swell pattern it’s highly unlikely they will be noticeable in the mix. If winds do drop out then we’ll update this but for now, it will just be a small source of energy added into the mix.
This weekend (May 28-29)
Plenty of action ahead for this weekend, and the models are still moving around a bit run to run, so it’s likely there’ll be revisions on Wed and Fri.
It’s basically a competing synoptic pattern with a La Niña sub-tropical low tracking south from the Coral Sea while a more seasonal cold outbreak arrives from the South, bringing a SW to W flow from the interior. How those two competing air masses evolve will determine the state of surf this weekend.
Swell from the E to E/SE is most definitely on the menu as the surface low tracks south, with a broad fetch aimed increasingly at sub-tropical NSW.
That should see surf build from that source during Sat, likely from 4-5ft, up into the 4-6ft range during the day in NENSW, with a peak in size of 4-5ft in SEQLD, easing during the day. Fresh SW to S’ly winds in NENSW, will tend lighter SW in SEQLD.
There should be some great waves around Sat, with hopefully some sunshine as the bad weather is dragged southwards.
Size should ease through Sun, as the surface low moves south dragging the fetch with it and no longer aimed directly at the f/cast region. Offsetting the drop in size will be a day of offshore winds, so smaller 3-4ft surf, dropping back to 3ft during the day will be well groomed by a true synoptic offshore wind, the first one in many months.
Next week (May 30 onwards)
The sub-tropical low and troughy area off the NSW coast combine and track south into early next week, with a SW flow tending NW as the approaching cold front brings pre-frontal winds. That will see E swell easing quite quickly through the day, extending into Tues.
Models are mixed on whether we will see some S swell from a small fetch on the southern flank of the retreating low, possibly Wed. We’ll update that this week but it's not likely to show apart from a few S swell magnets in NENSW.
Following that looks like a hard and true W’ly wind as the front sweeps across NSW through Wed/Thurs with small leftover E swell most likely.
Surf is likely to go tiny to flat through that period at this stage, with hopefully a chance to dry a few things out after such a sustained wet period.
A cold front hard on it’s heels looks more likely to bring a blast of new S swell as we head into the first week of June, with the blast of cold air the first respite from La Niña conditions since late October. We’ll see whether that heralds a more sustained change of pattern.
Check back Wed for the latest.