More small S swells on the radar as La Niña says good-bye

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 26th May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Smaller/raggedy S swell event expected Sat, easing Sun as front/low moves into Tasman
  • More small S swell pulses next week favouring NENSW and mostly tiny/flat in SEQLD
  • Small, low energy E swells keep surf above flat in SEQLD next week
  • More S swells as we head into first week of Winter- check back Mon for the latest


Still some nice clean lines yesterday from the S which generated 3ft surf in NENSW at S exposed breaks, although NW winds blew out most spots. Smaller 1-1.5ft surf in SEQLD. Not much at all today with just a scrappy little signal of NE windswell and traces of S swell to 1ft with N’ly winds as we wait for a weakening front to arrive. It’s expected to reach the Coffs area mid a’noon, Byron-border by dark.

Some tiny but pretty A-frames on the Sunshine Coast

This weekend (May 27-28)

The expected Tasman low forming in the wake of todays front really falls apart, forming instead a raggedy low pressure trough which moves away quickly to the NE overnight and into Sat. That leaves us with a scrappy, bog standard S swell for Sat pushing up into the 4ft range at S facing beaches in NENSW, mostly small and scrappy elsewhere (2ft at SEQLD S facing beaches). Surface conditions should be only fair under fresh SW winds, tending S’ly through the day. 

S swells continue into Sun, initially in the 3ft range at NENSW S exposed breaks (1-2ft at SEQLD S swell magnets), but away from S swell magnets surf will become tiny through Sun, although groomed by W’ly winds. Probably a better day for fishing/diving apart from a few reliable S swell magnets in NENSW.

Next week (May 29 onwards)

Not much change to the outlook for next week. Large high pressure moves across the continent bringing settled weather with light winds while a series of fronts traverse the Tasman generating small S swell pulses- a typical El Niño pattern for the Winter. For our sub-tropical region it’s going to be a very low energy week.

Winds will be basically offshore to start the week with a W’ly bias expected for most of the week, likely tending N’ly through the latter stages of next week.

The monster low expected to send pumping surf to Vicco this weekend generates some extra long period S swell wrap for late Mon but it’ll be tiny for most areas, with some 2-3ft sets for S swell magnets in NENSW. Not much at all in SEQLD where a small amount of residual E swell from the South Pacific should hold a 1-1.5ft signal.

More small S swell Tues, with a flukey fetch on the edge of the ice shelf today likely to supply some inconsistent 2ft SSE swell sets to the region. Models tend to resolve these swells poorly (if at all) so keep expectations pegged appropriately. 

Looks like Wed/Thurs will be the low points of the week, although traces of S and E swell are likely to maintain surfable waves at S facing beaches- tiny/flat elsewhere.

A stronger front Thurs may supply S swell a notch bigger for Fri into next weekend to kick off Winter, under current modelling.

Following that we may see another front or even low in the Tasman develop late in the weekend bring a bigger payload of S swell to kick off the week 5/6.

That's a fair way away but the confidence is reasonable the pattern of small S swells will extend into that time frame as we transition into an El Niño pattern for Winter 2023.

Looking to the East and a trough looks to form in Fijian latitudes with a low forming even further away well to the SE of Tahiti. Both of these systems move away as they form, suggesting only minor amounts of background E swell into the second week of Winter. 

Check back Mon to see how it’s shaping up and in the mean-time, have a great weekend!


cam.jw's picture
cam.jw's picture
cam.jw Friday, 26 May 2023 at 3:05pm

I appreciate the efforts put in to generate this forecast. But I hate this forecast.

Sunny Coaster.

NickT's picture
NickT's picture
NickT Friday, 26 May 2023 at 6:47pm

Same here I really appreciate the reports team. Far out it's been the best 3 year run of surf I've ever had in my 30yr surf life on the Gold Coast. I guess it had to come to an end at some time. It was almost non stop swell from the east allowing all the variety from the beach breaks to spread the crowds. What an epic run. I see Indo is jam packed this year already, I'm predicting this will be it's busiest surf season on record.

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger Friday, 26 May 2023 at 7:04pm

Things look rather benign ahead, have I mentioned already my dislike of south swells?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 26 May 2023 at 7:48pm

I've done hardly any rockfishing this year because of the amount of swell.

one thing to look forwards to - some night sessions on the stones chasing jew without worrying about getting washed off

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted Wednesday, 31 May 2023 at 5:17am

Freeride, you’ll have a couple months window before the El Niño charged nor’easters start winding up and the cold water upwellings start messing with the fishing.

Le_Reynard's picture
Le_Reynard's picture
Le_Reynard Friday, 26 May 2023 at 9:02pm

Ice shelf, SE of Tahiti lows...yikes

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Tuesday, 30 May 2023 at 10:32am

This wasn't the source of the long period groundswell showing on the wave buoys this morning was it?

Edit: Just checked the hindcast and I think not. Today's swell was from the fetch in the Southern Ocean over the weekend.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 30 May 2023 at 10:33am

Nope, the storm under the country late last week generating Vicco's big swell Sunday.

groovie's picture
groovie's picture
groovie Wednesday, 31 May 2023 at 5:33am

Looks like it's goodbye to La Nina & hello El Nino! Lucky to have a few south swell magnets to play with, just a pity about the ever increasing amount of new locals/ visitors in our lineups since Covid restrictions ended!

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger Wednesday, 31 May 2023 at 6:54am

Any promise the forecast had has now gone to poo. Not overly concerned ATM as I have a bung shoulder that really needs rest. Looking grim going forward though.