Solid weekend south of the border; easterly swell window to fire up next week

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Ben Matson (thermalben)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Fri 9th Dec)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Solid S'ly swell building Sat, easing Sun with generally good winds (get in early Sun in NNSW)
  • Poor surf Mon (N'lies) and Tues (small, weak surf)
  • Small flukey S'ly swell Wed
  • Strong E'ly groundswell showing Thurs, building Fri, peaking Sat, easing Sun


Average surf over the last few days. Thursday morning offered a brief window of early NW winds in most regions, though gusty N'lies spoiled conditions at most locations ahead of an advancing S'ly change. Wednesday's new S'ly swell peaked quicker than expected (overnight), easing from 2-3ft in the morning across Northern NSW's south facing beaches, with nothing showing north of Byron. In fact the N'ly breeze generated peaky 2ft+ wind waves at exposed spots in SE Qld on Thursday. Today's seen small NE windswells across SE Qld and building short range S'ly swells to 3-4ft across Northern NSW under a generally fresh southerly flow. 

This weekend (Dec 10 - 11)

A deepening Tasman Low is currently parked midway between Tasmania and New Zealand, and southerly gales around its western flank reached maximum strength around lunchtime today. 

This energy will fill in overnight across Southern NSW, and then up along the Northern NSW coast during Saturday morning.

The timing is an important point, because locations in the far north of the state (and indeed SE Qld) are very likely to be well undersized at dawn, possibly up until lunchtime, so keep your expectations in check as the afternoon will look a lot different to the dawn patrol.

In fact, some locations will probably see a plateau of size through into Sunday morning. Therefore, getting the best waves from this event will depend on your latitude, and the local wind outlook.

Size wise, we're looking at a peak somewhere in the 5-6ft range at south facing beaches south of Byron. As per usual, beaches not open to the south will be a lot smaller. Size will slowly ease through Sunday though some regions (mainly in the north) could retain Saturday afternoon's peak for the early session. 

North of the border, most SE Qld beaches and points won't manage much more than a slow 1-2ft at the height of the swell (even smaller prior to its arrival, early Saturday), but exposed northern ends should pick up 3ft+ sets, though this is more likely for Sunday morning than any other time. 

As for winds, we've got a light variable flow and sea breezes expected across most of Northern NSW on Saturday, so conditions should be pretty good all day south of the border. Freshening northerlies will create bumpy conditions on Sunday at all but the most protected northern corners, but these spots will still be pretty solid at this time, even as the swell eases (lighter NW winds are likely in some spots early morning; make the most of it). 

Throughout SE Qld, Sunday morning will offer the most size (at northern ends) and best conditions with early light variable winds, as Saturday will be at risk of a lingering E'ly flow under a weak ridge. Still, winds shouldn't become too strong on Saturday so there'll be a few small options at the beachies as the swell shows through the afternoon.

Next week (Dec 12 onwards)

Monday looks terrible under fresh N'ly winds. They'll be strongest as you head south from the border, and only a few swell magnets will be raking in the last dregs of the weekend's S'ly swell, so keep your expectations low.

There'll also be some local N'ly windswell in the water but it won't have any quality to show.

Tuesday also looks like a layday with small residual swells and a shallow S'ly change pushing along the Northern NSW coast, and Wednesday thru' Friday should see small pulses of peripheral south swell across select south swell magnets in Northern NSW, from unusual sources in and around the Tasmanian region.

But the real juice is lining up from the east later next week. 

On Sunday, a deepening tropical low south of Fiji will work together with a broad ridge to its south-east (thanks to a broad high east of New Zealand), strengthening an impressive fetch between the two - see below - that'll generate some impressive groundswell that's expected to first show across the region on Thursday, building steadily on Friday, reaching a peak on Saturday before gradually easing from Sunday. 

At this stage the fetch looks capable of a peak around 4-6ft somewhere across the East Coast though we'll need to fine tune the specifics next week. At this stage I'd be more confident of the upper end of this size range across Northern NSW than SE Qld - due to the alignment of the primary fetch - but let's see how the models resolve themselves over the coming days.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday!


dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 Friday, 9 Dec 2022 at 6:31pm

Hey Ben welcome back. Thanks for the excellent report.