Small E swell pulses keep beaches surfable with winds shifting around

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 1st Feb)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Variable winds Wed tending S/SE with NE’lies establishing Thurs PM /Fri
  • Small kick in E swell Thurs, easing Fri
  • NE windswell building Fri, holding Sat, easing Sun
  • Small amounts of E’ly tradewind swell over the weekend
  • More small E swell next week with SE winds becoming established
  • Possible low off Fraser next week, stay tuned for revisions
  • Still tracking low pressure developments in South Pacific- nothing major expected


Mixed bag yesterday with some E/SE swell building to 2-3ft, clean early under variable winds before a light/mod Nor-easter kicked in. The small mixed bag continues into today with E/SE swell to 2-3ft (smaller 2ft in SEQLD), producing some fun peaks across open beaches. Conditions are clean early under a W-SW flow, with S/SE winds kicking in through the morning. 

Small and clean with fun options this morning

This week (Feb1- Feb3)

The unstable pattern continues with a small trough of low pressure lingering off the Central NSW Coast, linked to tropical cloud bands and moisture streaming in from the Northern Monsoon. This unstable, humid pattern lasts through the week before a winter-calibre mid-latitude low blasts a clearing W’ly flow across temperate NSW, with a S’ly change for the sub-tropics. Small, funky E swells maintain surfable conditions through the f/cast period.

In the short run and the small low quickly exits stage right, with a weak, variable flow through the morning expected before winds rapidly kick up from the NE, whipping up some small NE windswell through the a’noon on the Mid North Coast. In the morning there’ll be some clean 2ft surf with easing  E swell and some better quality mid period E/SE swell filling in through the mid/late morning, kicking wave heights back up a notch to 2 to occasional 3ft.

Friday looks interesting. Early W to NW winds quickly tend N’ly and freshen as the large mid-latitude low drives a W’ly flow across most of temperate NSW whilst we see a continuation of humid, troughy conditions. Thursdays small increase in E/SE swell from a fetch near the North Island holds some 2-3ft surf into Fri, with clean conditions early before the N’ly gets up.

This weekend (Feb 4-5)

A S’ly change is on the menu for Sat morning, getting to the QLD border early-mid morning. Expect light and variable winds early before the change with NW/N winds on the Sunshine Coast. A fun blend of NE swell from winds feeding into the trough and longer range E’ly tradewind swell will see surf  in the 3ft range. Plenty of fun surf on the beaches before the change with small peelers on the Points after it.

Size holds Sun and we’ll see winds shift more SW to S through the morning as a mid-latitude  low starts to move E into the Tasman, albeit weakening as it does so. By the a’noon we’ll see winds shift SE as a new high pressure ridge builds along the coast. 

Next week (Feb6 onwards)

Gales out of Bass Strait late Sat into Sun and a weaker fetch of SW-S winds below Tasmania supply some small S swell for Mon at S facing beaches in NENSW. Nothing exceeding 2ft+ at S facing beaches is expected. Elsewhere small E’ly tradewind swell keeps chugging away in the 2ft range. A high pressure ridge maintains a SE flow along the sub-tropics.

A weak high cell buds off the main high pressure belt and moves NE into the Tasman early next week, bringing a return to N’ly to NE’ly winds through Tues across area from Coffs Harbour southwards. Further north we’ll see more SE winds. Small E swells maintain a fun 3ft or so of surf. Tuesday should see a slightly larger pulse generated by an increase in winds around a depression in the South Pacific.

Models are still progging an increase in onshore E-E/NE winds into an interior trough from mid next week, likely  leading to a few days of onshore, building E/NE swell from late Wed into Fri and possibly next weekend. This may see a surface low form off the Fraser Coast to North Coast. Models are showing poor run to run consistency which leads to low confidence.

A passing front in the lower Tasman Tues/Wed next week is expected to generate a pulse of long period S swell in the 3ft range but with an arrival through later Thurs into Fri it’s likely this swell signal will be lost in the noise of a heavily onshore sea state. 

Instability remains a feature along a monsoon trough across the Arafura Sea, extending through the Gulf of Carpentaria and out into the Coral Sea and South Pacific. Models are not suggesting any discreet low pressure development along this trough line through the short/medium term and but we’ll keep monitoring for signs of life.

In the meantime it’s back to small, flukey swells and wind shifts. 

Check back Fri for the latest.