N'ly pattern approaching with an extended period of marginal surf ahead

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 14th Sep)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Stronger long period S'ly swell across Northern NSW Wed, with a reinforcing pulse Thurs as winds tend N’ly and freshen
  • Small NE windswell late Thurs on the MNC, extending throughout on Fri, smaller in the North
  • Will remain small the entire period throughout SE Qld
  • Small leftovers and offshore winds expected this weekend
  • Remaining small into next week


Not much surf to speak of since Mon. Yesterday saw a small signal of S swell in NENSW, up around the 2ft mark, biggest in the a’noon, which SEQLD stayed tiny. Today has seen an increase in S swell across NENSW with a S facing beaches seeing 3-4ft of surf, clean early before onshore winds. SEQLD S facing beaches have been in the 2ft range, with tiny/flat surf elsewhere. 

Babyfood peelers were clean under SE-ESE winds

This week (Sep 14-16)

Typical Spring pattern with a slight La Niña/IOD twist unfolding at present. A large high is now moving into the Tasman, directing a N’ly flow along most of the Eastern seaboard. That flow intensifies in response to an approaching series of troughs and a complex low in the Bight. The inland troughs are linked to the negative IOD, drawing in Indian Ocean moisture, and the Tasman Sea is expected to revert to a weak troughy pattern next week, with limited surf potential at this stage.

In the short run and mod/fresh N to NE winds will start establish through Thurs. A last pulse of S to SSE swell will see some 4ft surf at S facing beaches in NENSW, smaller 2ft in SEQLD at reliable S swell magnets. You’ll need to get in early for a brief morning land breeze before the Nor-easter kicks in, likely by 9am. One that is up, it’ll be backbeaches only. A small NE windswell is on the cards for the Mid North Coast in the a’noon, not exceeding 2ft.

It’s quite a chunky N’ly fetch off the NSW Coast late Thurs/early Fri morning (see below), but it quickly rotates out of the swell as a front approaches, with winds swinging. It also favours the Mid North Coast for size, due to its position. Surf size will grade smaller further north, with the MNC seeing some 2-3ft surf,  grading smaller with SEQLD seeing 1-2ft waves from the NE through Friday. Winds will veer more NNW to N’ly through the day as a front and low approach from the West and S facing beaches in NENSW will still have some small 2-3ft surf through the morning, easing through the day. With the fresh N’ly quarter winds, it’ll be a backbeaches only type of day. 

This weekend (Sep 17-18)

No great change to the weekend f/cast. It’s a complex synoptic set-up, with the low and multiple troughs and fronts sweeping across the region, but no real surf potential. 

Expect a NW  flow through Sat morning tending W/NW through the a’noon with a weak signal of leftover NE swell from the remnants of the fetch lingering about the Northern Tasman. That should supply some small 2ft surf, at open beaches, with traces of S swell supplying inconsistent 1-2ft sets at S swell magnets. Probably just enough for a fun wave at the magnets.

Winds veer more W to W/SW Sun as another front pushes through. Small/tiny surf in the 1-2ft range is expected, remnants of E swell and a few marginal traces of S swell. With offshore conditions it may be worth a longboard session. Looks better for rockfishing and diving inshore reefs and ledges.

Next week (Sep 19 onwards)

Still looking very quiet next week. The complex low washes out and leaves a weak, troughy pattern in the Tasman, with a high at sub-tropical latitudes. A Bass Strait fetch on Sun may generate some small 1-2ft S swell Mon under a continuing W’ly pattern but it barely seems worth working around.

From there we move into a period of knee high surf that extends through most of next week. So you can safely set aside Tues-Wed as not worth frothing over on the surf front. 

A weak low is expected to form off the Mid North Coast later next week. GFS quickly scoots the low away with no real surf potential. EC has a stronger, and slower system that may see some useful SE-S swell develop late next week. Confidence is low in both assessments this far out. 

Frontal activity below the Bight looks zonal in nature next week but we may see some small refracted pulses of S swell by next weekend. Trade-wind activity in the South Pacific is likely to supply small amounts of background E swell from mid next week which will stop the surf going flat.

Check back Fri and we’ll see how it’s shaping up. Might be a good opportunity to fix some dings. 


donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 6:30am

That small long range Ely groundswell the models are showing inbound later this week. Where did it come from as I’m struggling to see it in the charts?