A couple more small days before chunky E swell builds and extends into next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 15th August)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr) 

  • Small, long range E swell (very inconsistent!) Mon PM, holding Tues, easing Wed 
  • Small S swell on the Mid North Coast Wed PM, fading quickly Thurs
  • Small E swell holding Mon-Wed at fun levels before building Thurs into the weekend as “trough-block” forms in Coral Sea/South Pacific
  • Quality E swell from trough block slowly fades Mon to be replaced Tues by quality long range E swell from South Pacific 
  • Small, flukey S swell pulses likely Tues-Thurs favouring S facing beaches
  • Strong S swells likely from mid/late next week as active frontal progression enters Tasman Sea, stay tuned for revisions


Not much on offer over the weekend, just clean babyfood both days, marginally bigger Sun for most of the region, with a marginal increase in E/NE swell. Size has perked up a notch today with clean 2ft sets around from the eastern quadrant, mostly mid period swell from the Coral Sea, with a few stray long range sets from a long range E swell. Clean conditions under W to NW winds apart from a pesky N’ly flow concentrated on the Gold Coast.  We’ve got a few small days ahead before a more dynamic period later in the week.  Details below. 

Small, summer-style beachbreaks on the menu 

This week (Aug 15-19)

Remarkably there is little change to the current synoptic set-up which was forecast a week ago by weather models. A deep low just to the East of Tasmania is now slowly weakening and moving away, maintaining a westerly flow across the region. A trough line linked to the low extends from the Tasman Sea up into the Coral Sea past New Caledonia and over the next few days this trough deepens as it slowly moves East, activating an incredibly wide fetch of E to NE winds infeeding into it. We’re still looking good for a few days of quality surf from this source late in the week and into the weekend, with another quality E swell lined up behind it. A mid week pulse of S swell is also on the cards as a thin fetch quickly sweeps up the NSW Coast before another round of W’ly dominated winds.

In the short run and we’re looking at another small, clean day tomorrow as a mix of E swells continues to supply sets to 2ft under a mostly W’ly flow which will tilt more SW in the a’noon as a front passes into the Tasman. If you found a bank today then repeat the dose for tomorrow. A few of the better known swell magnets may see some bigger 3ft sets through favourable stretches of the tide. 

The cold front drives a thin fetch of SW-S winds along the coast Wed, which will make conditions unattractive at S exposed breaks. That fetch will whip up a small amount of short range S swell through the a’noon on the Mid North Coast, topping out at around a windy 2-3ft at S exposed breaks. Small E swell offers better surf at more protected locations and that signal will maintain some 2ft+ sets through the day, albeit a bit slow and inconsistent. 

By Thursday we’ll see the ocean start to show more energy from the E-E/NE as the trough block swell starts to show. Winds look pretty good. Weak high pressure off the Mid North Coast and an approaching front should see a SW flow with a light E’ly seabreeze. Through the morning expect undersize 2ft surf- mostly E swell with a small amount of leftover S swell- but through the day surf should muscle up a notch to a fun 3ft on the sets.

Friday is still looking really good. As we said last week, the distance of the trough block from the East Coast will limit swell size, compared to last July’s episode but we’re still looking at really good quality 3-5ft surf through Fri, with a few bigger 4-6ft pulses possible at exposed breaks. A front sweeping through the interior brings all day NW to W’ly winds, possibly tending more NNW to N’ly  as a front migrates Eastwards through NSW. Pencil in Friday.

This weekend (Aug 20-21)

Complicated weekend f/cast with plenty of swell on tap.

Expect some revision through the week with a cold front passing through Sat, seeing winds swing SW. Good quality E swell from the trough block holds size in the 3-5ft range. A late kick in new short range S swell is expected from the proximate fetch of SW-S winds off the NSW Coast, which will add some 3ft of short range swell to S facing beaches, more likely on the Mid North Coast to Far North Coast.

The front moves away overnight Sat, leaving a lighter SW flow Sunday morning that will shift to light SE breezes through the day.  Good quality E swell eases back a notch into the 3-4ft range and stronger S swell from a parent low tracking NE next to Tasmania early Sat supplies 3-4ft of S swell at S facing beaches in NENSW, smaller 2ft in SEQLD. 

Next week (Aug 22 onwards)

Into next week and the trough block swell slowly eases into Mon with some 4ft sets on offer under offshore conditions as a major frontal progression approaches from the Southern Ocean.

Following that swell is another long range E swell, generated by an intense low pressure system retrograding through the South Pacific from Wed-Fri this week (see below). Although this system isn’t perfectly aimed at the Eastern seaboard the strength of the winds, length of the fetch, and movement back towards the coast should see some strong 4ft sets start to build Tues with continuing offshore winds.

From mid next week we’ll be turning eyes back to the south as a major frontal progression/cold outbreak and deep polar lows enter the southern swell window. 

Models are still offering mixed messages but the basic pattern suggests some strong S swell pulses from Wed next week. We’ll flag those for now and drill down into specifics this week as model guidance becomes clearer.

Check back Wed for the latest update on what is shaping up to be an active period of good waves. 


burleigh's picture
burleigh's picture
burleigh Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 3:54pm

Lovely. and a nice wind change this afternoon on the northern beaches for some fun beachbreaks.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 4:22pm

did shift W'ly?

was offshore all day here.

simsurf's picture
simsurf's picture
simsurf Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 5:03pm

Went northerly for a few hours then shifted back NW

burleigh's picture
burleigh's picture
burleigh Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 5:30pm

Went NE across the entire Goldy, back to W in the north end but stayed NE southern Gold Coast all afternoon

spidermonkey's picture
spidermonkey's picture
spidermonkey Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 6:59pm

Was NE from around 11am all day up here

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 7:10pm

shifted N here late a; noon.

SDW's picture
SDW's picture
SDW Monday, 15 Aug 2022 at 8:43pm

Oh my.

Rockethut's picture
Rockethut's picture
Rockethut Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 6:39pm

Great day of offshores and fun beachies. Keep it coming maaaaate

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Tuesday, 16 Aug 2022 at 8:07pm

That little bump in swell today over-bumped. A very nice day :)

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 17 Aug 2022 at 6:02am

Looks like it is going to take some skill to navigate around lots of tricky wind shifts over the coming days.