Workable pulses of E swell this week under a mostly onshore flow

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 16th Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small, weak surf Sun, extending into early next week
  • Weak tradewinds  in the Coral Sea  with small E'ly tradewind swell Tues, bigger Wed/Thurs
  • Better quality E swell pulse Fri
  • Late kick in S swell likely for the MNC Thurs, extending into Far North NSW and SEQLD Fri before easing
  • Low likely off QLD coast next week (plenty of model divergence!), stay tuned for updates


The weekend ran out close to plan with small waves all weekend, biggest Sat in the 2-3ft range with light morning winds, apart from the Sunshine Coast which maintained moderate strength onshores all weekend. Sun declined further with clean 2ft or less surf across most of the region apart from the Sunny Coast. More small surf today in the 2ft range with early clean conditions now marred by onshore E’ly winds. 

Another day of onshore but workable beachies

This week (Jan 16-20)

We’re in a bit of Groundhog Day pattern with another weak high moving into the Tasman, directing onshore winds across the Eastern Seaboard. These winds are tending NE through temperate NSW, more E’ly in the sub-tropics. Tradewinds in the Coral Sea will see continuing small, Summer surf until a S’ly change later in the week brings a new S-SSE swell pulse. An E’ly dip above the North Island delivers a stronger E swell later in the week. A daisy chain of tropical lows form along the monsoon trough line through the Coral Sea later this week and into next, with some surf potential for the sub-tropics expected from each system.

In the short run and there’s not much to get excited about. Weak trade-swell in the 2ft range with onshore winds through tomorrow with a slight uptick into the 2-3ft range during the a’noon.

We’ll see size boost a notch into Wed as mid period E swell from a tradewind band in the South Pacific adds onto more locally generated swell. Expect size into the 3ft range with quality impaired by continuing E’ly winds, tending more ESE in SEQLD, ENE-NE on the MNC and straight E in between. Nothing amazing but enough to get a shortboard moving. 

Winds tend N’ly Thurs as a trough approaches from the south, bringing a S’ly change to the Mid North Coast through the a’noon, overnight for the rest of the region. Mid period E swell holds in the 3ft range Thurs with options depending on the wind- most likely confined to backbeaches apart from the Mid North Coast up to Coffs. 

Friday looks the best day of the week as early SW winds clean up a nice boost in E swell generated by the E’ly dip. With early SW winds likely there should be some clean options around for 3-4ft of E swell, with small Point surf on offer once S’ly winds become established. We’ll see some short range SSE swell build in on the Mid North Coast, extending up into NENSW through the late a’noon.

This weekend (Jan21-22)

Another reinforcing high is expected to slide SE of Tasmania this weekend setting up another high pressure ridge with SE winds expected over the weekend.

SW-S winds Sat morning, should tend SE through the day with leftover E swell in the 3ft range early, easing back to 2-3ft. Also in the mix will be some S-SSE swell in the 2-3ft range. This should offer up a fun mixed bag if you can get out of the wind or deal with a bit of side shore breeze.

Light/mod SSE-SE winds are expected Sun with reasonable odds for a morning land breeze or at worst lighter winds inshore early. SSE swell tends a little more ESE as the fetch associated with the trough lingers about the Central Tasman. Not much size is expected, topping out around 2ft+, enough for a fun grovel if you’re not too fussy about wave quality. 

Next week (Jan23 onwards)

Back to small, onshore Summer surf to start  next week. Weak trades hold 2ft or so of E’ly swell to start the week.

Feels like the tropics has been teasing us for a while now with promises of tropical depressions and/or cyclones.

The broad scale pattern is for discreet systems to form along the monsoon trough line and slide SE, which offers limited surf potential for sub-tropical NSW. Early next week through a system does look to stall in the Coral Sea, generating a stronger E swell possibly as early as Tues.

GFS is much more bullish about this than EC, which weakens the system runs it out to the SE.

Under GFS modelling we’ll see chunky E swell build in Tues into the 3-4ft range, peaking on Wed in the 4-5ft range.

Later next week a trough and another front are likely to produce another round of S swell, albeit with winds from the same direction.

It’s hard to have any confidence this far out due to model divergence so we’ll flag these possibilities for now, with revisions expected Wed.

Check back Wed and we’ll see how things are shaping up.


Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 2:59pm

Red tide algal bloom off Coffs..

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 3:09pm

Thats a trichodesmium bloom, been plenty of slicks of it around here over the last 2 weeks.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 3:17pm

Ah yes! tri-..sdassadsa.. Ha.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 3:23pm

They hate that shit on Maggie.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 3:25pm

Maggie Island?

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 3:32pm

Yeah ruins the snorkelling/swimming near shore and looks ugly. Turned up early in August 2021.

spidermonkey's picture
spidermonkey's picture
spidermonkey Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 8:24pm

I grew up on Maggi Is. I've seen it so bad in Horseshoe Bay that it caused a massive fish kill. The whole Bay was thick with it for over a week.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 12:56pm

Wow yeah it stinks too hey. Seems to get blown in pretty easily there.
Cool place to grow up, did you ever get decent waves?

spidermonkey's picture
spidermonkey's picture
spidermonkey Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 5:41pm

Great place to grow up, we had the run of the Island during the 70s and 80s. Big drinking and drug culture took its toll on many of us once we hit our early teens tho. Believe it or not, I used to love surfing there when the trades ramped up, or more rarely a cyclone in just the right spot.

mr mick's picture
mr mick's picture
mr mick Monday, 16 Jan 2023 at 6:47pm

Distant cousin of Cisco Tschurtschenthaler from Crescent!

conrico's picture
conrico's picture
conrico Tuesday, 17 Jan 2023 at 12:04pm

Not that distant!

seeds's picture
seeds's picture
seeds Saturday, 21 Jan 2023 at 3:31pm

Thick algal bloom at Rainbow Beach today. Never seen one like this.
post image

seeds's picture
seeds's picture
seeds Saturday, 21 Jan 2023 at 3:34pm