Easterly window dries up; southerly window fires up
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Mon 5th Dec)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Slowly easing E'ly swell all week, biggest Tues, but with tricky winds
- Fun new S'ly swell (Northern NSW) building Wed, easing Thurs
- Strong south swell building late Thurs (MNC) and Fri (Northern Rivers), a little too much wind to be worthwhile, and too south for SE QLD
- Fun weekend of easing S'ly tending S/SE swell and generally OK winds in Northern NSW, only small in SE Qld though
We saw powerful E'ly swells all weekend with a focus in Northern NSW, pushing 6-8ft Saturday, easing to 5-6ft Sunday and 4-5ft today. The Sunshine Coast saw a little less size, and a little more SE in the swell direction (owing to the position of the fetch) however most coasts were somewhat overpowered by this energy and have really only started to come into play today with morning offshore winds and more manageable energy. That being said, the small handful of usual suspects that enjoy these conditions produced excellent waves over the weekend.
This week (Dec 6 - 9)
Righto. First look at the charts in a long time, and we can see a broad though weakening trade flow through the Northern Tasman Sea, stretching out into the South Pacific.
This will continue to provide an undercurrent of E'ly swell for the next few days: occasional 3-4ft sets across most of Northern NSW's swell magnets on Tuesday morning, easing by half to one foot each day, probably gone by Friday. Expect smaller surf across the Sunshine Coast.
At the same time, we have some interesting developments in our south swell window. But let me state up front: it's not looking favourable for SE Qld for a little while.
A shallow southerly change will push up the Northern NSW coast on Tuesday, petering out before it reaches the border. So, expect early N/NW winds prior to its arrival, before S'lies kick in to Port Mac mid-late morning, reaching Coffs around lunchtime and then trending SE across the remainder of the Northern Rivers mid-late afternoon.
North of the border will probably anchor the northerly breeze in on Tuesday though it'll be NW early and this will be your cue to hit up the open beaches for an early session as the E'ly energy fades.
Light variable winds and sea breezes are then due Wednesday with a mix of leftover E'ly swell and a new pulse of S'ly swell that the models aren't picking up too well. This swell will have been generated by a cut-off low sitting just east of Tasmania at the moment.
Its fetch is developing in a tight region of Northern NSW's south swell window (see below). Most of this energy will favour Southern NSW but we should see it glance Northern NSW's reliable south swell magnets - but be warned - there will be a very wide variation in size from beach to beach. A handful of swell magnets across the Mid North Coast may pick up occasional 3-4ft sets (more likely into the afternoon); the Northern Rivers will be a little smaller and I can't see much size pushing north of the border. Overall, I'd expect more misses than hits from this pulse.
This S'ly swell will slowly fade through Thursday, but a stronger southerly change will bring about pockets of pre-frontal N'ly winds, ahead of its arrival mid-late morning on the MNC, mid-late arvo on the Northern Rivers (the wind may swing earlier, but the bulk wind strength isn't really due for a few hours behind this). So, keep an eye out for an early session and pounce if you see conditions in your favour. But, it could go either way, confidence is low for good waves.
Thursday's southerly change will be attached to a broader fetch stretching strong to gale force winds through the southern Tasman Sea, and it'll generate bigger but more wind affected southerly swells for Northern NSW on Friday, pushing 4-5ft+ at south facing beaches. Expect much smaller surf elsewhere due to the steep direction.
I'm not expecting much size across the Gold or Sunshine Coasts due to the swell source and direction, maybe slow 1-2ft waves across southern points to finish the working week if we're lucky.
This weekend (Dec 10 - 11)
Plenty of fun surf this weekend. For Northern NSW, that is.
The front responsible for the Thurs/Fri south swell will evolve into a Tasman Low by the end of the week, but it'll continue to slide slowly eastwards. So, Saturday will see gradually easing S'ly tending S/SE swell and the downwards trend will continue into Sunday.
South facing beaches in Northern NSW should still be somewhere in the 4-5ft range for much of Saturday (a secondary pulse from the low may nudge wave heights a little higher than late Friday, into Saturday afternoon), but it'll trend down from 3-4ft to 2-3ft into Sunday. Elsewhere expect much smaller surf.
Conditions are looking generally good with light morning winds and sea breezes, from the SE on Saturday and the NE on Sunday. Early Saturday may see a lingering S/SE across some northern regions though it'll certainly be on the improve (Sunday morning is the pick though).
As for SE Qld, it'll be small all weekend but clean in the mornings with little runners across the outer sand bottom points, and small beachies as well (exposed spots will likely have some wind on it early Saturday).
Exposed northern ends and south swell magnets should see a few 2ft+ leftover sets on Sunday morning before the swell completely fades.
Next week (Dec 12 onwards)
A large high pressure system developing east of New Zealand this weekend looks like it'll set up a reasonable long range E'ly swell for the latter part of next week.
There's also some signs of a developing trough off the southern Coral Sea that could become a local swell source. Still plenty of time between now and then though. So, make the most of the next few days.