Plenty of small fun E swell ahead, as monsoon low/TC drifts towards New Caledonia

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 20th Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Late S change for the MNC Thurs with S-SE winds becoming established Fri across the region
  • Better quality E swell pulse Fri, easing through Sat
  • Late kick in S swell likely for the MNC Thurs, extending into Far North NSW and SEQLD Fri before easing
  • Fun E swell likely from Mon/Tues next week as monsoonal low/TC drifts near New Caledonia
  • More small E swell on the long range, stay tuned for updates


We saw a slight kick in E’ly tradewind swell yesterday to 2-3ft with a glassy morning providing a good spread of fun waves across the region before N’ly winds kicked in. A S’ly change reached the Coffs coast by lunch-time and stalled around Yamba late in the day. Variable winds across far North  NSW and into SEQLD are now being replaced with S’lies as the change becomes established and we’ve got another slight kick in size to go with it as E swell kicks into the 3ft range on the sets. 

Nice litle kick in E swell today with variable winds before the S'ly

This weekend (Jan21-22)

No great change to the weekend f/cast. The remnants of yesterdays troughy change are now lingering off the NSW North Coast and a weak high pressure ridge is maintaining a soft but persistent S-SE onshore flow along the Eastern Seaboard. Activity in the tropics has been intense but short-lived with TC Irene forming between New Caledonia and Vanuatu, now downgraded back to sub-tropical storm status and racing away to the SE (the grave-yard) without being a significant swell producer for the East Coast.

In the Coral Sea a depression on the end of the Monsoon Trough  is organising with a high likelihood of forming a tropical cyclone (TC Freddy) - this is looking like a handy swell producer for sub-tropical areas although no real size is expected as the system weakens as the swell producing fetch moves into the swell window.

Expect onshore winds to moderate over the weekend but we’re still looking at persistent SE-E winds both days, likely easing a notch Sun a’noon as the trough retrogrades back towards the Hunter coast.

Surf-wise Sat will see a peak of leftover SE-SSE swell to 2-3ft and some inconsistent E-ESE swell energy in the 3ft range as todays pulse winds back with the odd bigger 4ft wave in the mix. That should see some fun surf at semi protected locations and peelers on the Points on the lower tides.

Sunday looks smaller, with E swell becoming very slow and sporadic. A few 2-3ft sets and a bit of short range SSE’ly gurgle in the 2ft range under light E’ly winds. Nothing amazing but surfable across the region.

Next week (Jan23 onwards)

A weak high pressure belt located well south of Australia sends more reinforcing high pressure into the Tasman next week, maintaining a weak onshore flow through the Tasman, with instability on the cards as a trough line looks to protrude from the interior through Southern NSW and extend up along the QLD coast.

The southern swell window is effectively blocked save for some traces of refracted S swell Mon, not amounting to anything more than some inconsistent 1-2ft sets at NENSW S swell magnets, if it shows at all. 

Over the weekend TC Freddy (likely ex TC Freddy by this stage) will drift S of New Caledonia generating some small but fun swell which should start to show later Mon with some 3ft sets showing across the Sunshine Coast after lunch, extending through the region later in the day as far south as Ballina under a light land and seabreeze regime. Models show Freddy weakening quickly late in the weekend but of course, if it maintains strength we could see an upgrade in wve heights- check the comments for weekend revisions.

This variable flow tending looks likely for Tues as the trough remains off the Central NSW Coast and weak pressure gradients establish across the sub-tropics. The lingering remnants of Ex TC Freddy are expected to supply 3ft sets- likely 3-4ft across Sunshine Coast open beaches- through Tues, holding into Wed before slowly easing through Thurs.

Through the rest of next week and remnants of the system linger near the North Island with a weak fetch of E’ly winds extending through the Northern Tasman. This should be enough to hold a small E swell signal around 2ft during this period.

Winds look flukey as the trough hovers about the region, with a S’ly change likely on the weekend.

We may see a small S swell through next weekend depending on how a front associated with the trough and change Fri shapes up but confidence is low this far out.

E’ly winds through the Northern Tasman should maintain small E/SE swells into the medium term suggesting the grovel boards be kept close at hand. A developing trade-wind flow extending from the North Island back into the South Pacific also suggests continuing small E swell into the medium term.

Check back Mon and we’ll take a fresh look at it and in the meantime, have a great weekend!


SDW's picture
SDW's picture
SDW Friday, 20 Jan 2023 at 10:32pm

Some rather pretty waves coming through at The Pass this arvo. Would I ever bother to surf there again? Yeah, nah.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Saturday, 21 Jan 2023 at 10:31am

I went there this morning.
Ruled edged end to end peelers, brutal crowd.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Saturday, 21 Jan 2023 at 11:15am

Inco 3ft+ sets on the Tweed this morning. Nothing special but certainly some OK waves around.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 at 11:47am

Some great waves over the last 3 days. Love when all the wind forecasts get it wrong. Was actually cold pre dawn in a t-shirt, a little taste of Autumn, beautiful morning.

freesurfer1977's picture
freesurfer1977's picture
freesurfer1977 Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 at 2:18pm

If there was a like or thumbs Up for your comment sprout,you got one from me ;) going to a certain island tomorrow for a weeks hol, I think I'm onnn!! Tomorrow anyways haha.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 at 2:20pm

Oh beauty mate!! I'd almost say Friday was cooking, almost. Hope you get some!

freesurfer1977's picture
freesurfer1977's picture
freesurfer1977 Sunday, 22 Jan 2023 at 6:07pm

Thanks M8,me too!!