Couple more days of strong S swell then a slide downwards into Xmas

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 19th Dec)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Renewal of strong S/SE swell on Mon (MNC) into Tues (Nthn Rivers/SE Qld) with continuing S'ly winds
  • Strong SSE swell slowly fading out Wed
  • Gradual easing of swell and wind from Thurs into the rest of the week
  • Small, weak surf Xmas weekend and into Boxing Day
  • Possible boost in SE-ESE swell from Tues
  • Tracking developments in the tropics next week, stay tuned for updates


A strong, slow moving Tasman low has maintained a stack of S swell over the weekend, favouring NENSW for size, with a signal of E swell slowly fading out of the mix as well. Sat saw surf in the 3-5ft range in NENSW, mostly S swell, with smaller 3-4ft surf in SEQLD. E  swell dropped down in the mix Sun with increasing S-SSE swell holding size in the 3-5ft range in NENSW, smaller 3ft+ in SEQLD, albeit a bit lacklustre. Today has seen size ease back into the 3-4ft range in NENSW, smaller 2-3ft in SEQLD. A kick in size is expected to reach the MNC today, spreading into NENSW/SEQLD tomorrow.  Not bad for December. We’ll see an easing trend kick in this week with a slow and steady slide downwards into the Xmas weekend. Read on for details. 

Plenty of size across NENSW on the weekend

This week (Dec 19-23)

The combination of a Tasman low and strong high moving through the Bight has supplied a stack of S swell to the f/cast region since late last week, with an intensification and N’ward movement of the low upping the size and local winds through today on the MNC, and across the rest of the region through tomorrow. Pressure gradients will now slowly ease as the low starts to dissipate and the strong high weakens as it moves South of Tasmania through tomorrow. As this swell generating pattern breaks down we’ll be left with a weak, troughy pattern coming into the Xmas weekend with no major swell sources on hand, so you’ll need to get your grovel boards ready for Santa.

In the short run, tomorrow is another day of strong S-SSE swell and mod/fresh S’ly winds. Winds look like a carbon copy of today with just a brief window of lighter S to SSW winds inshore early before winds kick up again into the 20kt+ range. Expect size to build a notch into the 6ft range through NENSW, smaller 3-5ft in SEQLD at S facing beaches, with much smaller surf at more wind protected locations. 

Pressure gradients slowly slacken on Wed as a weak high cell moves NE into the Tasman. Wind models are still suggesting S’lies though the morning but odds are firming for a window of land breezes early, before winds clock around light/mod E’ly through the a’noon. We’ll see an easing trend all day with biggest surf early coming in at 4ft+ across a wide range of exposures in NENSW, smaller 3-4ft at S facing beaches in NENSW, dropping down to 2-3ft through the a’noon. 

N’lies kick in Thurs as an elongated high cell sits off the sub-tropical NSW coast. They’ll start off light, getting up to 15-20kts during the a’noon, with some minor NE windswell in the mix by close of play on the Mid North Coast. Through the morning, it’ll be mopping up what is left of the SE swell with some early 3ft sets, easing right back during the a’noon. That will be the last of it.

By Friday we’ll be in grovel mode. Small amounts of NE windswell will be in the mix through the morning - less than 2ft- and early N’lies may tend NNW, as a trough approaches. But keep expectations very low for Fri- we’re looking at surf in the 2ft range with some leftover SE swell and NE windswell. Just a note that models are suggesting some long period NNE swell from the North Pacific. These tend to be extremely flukey swell sources for our region, but if it does show it will be on the Northern end of the Sunshine Coast with the very odd 2ft set. 

This weekend (Dec 24-25)

Nothing much to work with this weekend with all points of the swell window looking very inactive.

A weak, troughy change extends into our region Sat morning, stalling around Coffs, with winds S’ly up to there and light NW from Coffs to SEQLD. The trough may reach the Ballina-Byron region during the a’noon. No real surf is expected with size in the 1-1.5ft range. There is a faint possibility todays Tasman low may linger near the North Island Thurs and briefly aim a fetch of SE-ESE winds back towards NSW, which would see some inconsistent 2ft sets Sat. Recent model runs are less and less bullish on this outcome, so we’ll just flag it now as a low odds event and see how it looks on Wed. Either way it’s going to be small.

Xmas day is almost certainly going to be tiny- a small mix of background E swell and ESE swell from whatever is leftover from Sat. We’ll peg it at around a foot, just surfable on foamies and suitable for beginners/kids. Light morning offshore winds should tend to E’ly breezes in the a’noon in a weak synoptic environment. TL:DR- you can hit the Xmas lunch and enjoy a post lunch nap with no concern for missing any surf for the arvo session. 

Next week (Dec 26 onwards)

Keep the foamies/logs handy for next week- you’re gunna need them as small/weak surf persists at least into the start of next week. 

Expect a summer doldrums pattern to persist into Boxing Day and possibly Tues with light winds and tiny surf.

No great details required, we’re looking at surf in the 1ft range and light E’ly breezes, with morning land breezes likely as high pressure sits in the Tasman.

From mid next week we’ll be looking to the E, as the high pressure system at the least develops E-SE winds through the Northern Tasman and Coral Sea.

We may see a small increase in SE swell from as early as Tues into Wed, up into the 2-3ft range with SE winds.

There are a few things we’ll be monitoring from mid next week. A trough of low pressure does form near the North Island. EC intensifies this but positions it right on the edge of the swell window with respect to the North Island block. A developing tradewind flow through this time is likely to favour sub-tropical areas but may spread down to temperate NSW by next weekend.

GFS suggests the system near the North Island will retrograde back into the Tasman Sea later next week, offering up good potential for a fun sized E swell over the New Years weekend. Stay tuned for details there.

In the background the tropics are looking active as the MJO signal fires up the monsoon trough and a strong cross-equatorial flow through PNG and the Solomons enhances the chances of tropical depressions forming. There’s nothing specific to mention today but chances are by Wed we’ll have something more concrete to talk about for the first week of the New Year, which is starting to look like an active period. 

Check back Wed and we’ll see how it’s shaping up.


adsi's picture
adsi's picture
adsi Wednesday, 21 Dec 2022 at 10:57am

Looks like models have given that bump in tradewind swell for Tuesday onwards.
You can all thank me for that, I scheduled a fkn site visit to Moree for Tuesday arvo/Wednesday morning hahaha, it'll prob pump.