Cyclone in the Coral Sea now likely with large swells expected under a southwards track
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 4th Dec)
Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)
- Small S-S/SE swell Mon/Tues with S-SE winds
- Small, weak surf continues this week
- Building E-E/NE tradewind swells over the weekend
- TC now expected to track southwards through Coral Sea with large cyclone swells becoming likely next week- still early days so check back Wed for updates
Not much surf over the weekend with SEQLD generally well under 2ft with a N’ly flow. NENSW fared a little better with a few 2ft sets Sat and some SE swell filtering up Sun. A W/NW-NW flow was persistent, especially Sat which allowed for some clean beachbreaks. S’ly winds today have confined surf to a few tiny peelers on Points and not much else. All eyes on the Solomon Islands region as we watch a numbered tropical depression, 92P, with cyclogenesis now becoming increasingly likely.
This week (Dec 4-8)
Weak high pressure in the Tasman and a trough is creating a “doldrums” type pattern of slack pressure gradients and small swells this week, with a few wind changes to negotiate. No major swells expected this week. The headline feature is a potential major tropical cyclone drifting into the Coral Sea with a poleward (southwards) track late this week, over the weekend and into next week. It’s still early days but under certain modelled outcomes we could see a coast hugging system bringing large swells down the entire East Coast.
In the short run and we’ll skip quickly through most of this week with a pattern of small, weak swells.
Light winds tomorrow tending SE in the a’noon and freshening with minor levels of SE swell from a weak fetch around the Central Tasman trough- nothing more than 1-2ft.
Similar size or less on Wed with an advancing trough likely stalling on the MNC bringing a S’ly to that region, light N’lies elsewhere.
The trough washes out off the Lower MNC Coast with a variable flow Thurs- likely W-NW early before tending to weak NE’ly seabreezes. No real surf to speak of with more small, weak swells to 1-2ft.
N’lies kick up on Fri with more small weak surf to 1-2ft.
This weekend (Dec 9-10)
N’ly winds look to continue and freshen this weekend, especially south of Byron-Ballina in response to an approaching trough of low pressure off the NSW Central Coast. Lighter breezes are expected in SEQLD.
All eyes will be on the Coral Sea with an expected TC starting it’s southwards journey. Initially we’ll see a developing E’ly wind field in the Coral Sea late this week which should see a small increase in E-E/NE trade swell through Sat, up into the 2-3ft range.
By Sunday that increase should become more substantial. We’ll see how model runs shape up through the week but size up into the 3-4ft range Sun, bigger 4-5ft in SEQLD, is on the cards. Expect smaller surf south of Yamba by a notch.
Next week (Dec 11 onwards)
Lots of uncertainty next week, primarily concerned with the track and strength of any TC which is steered into the Coral Sea.
We should see NE winds to start the week as the trough dissipates off the Sydney coast and any TC tracks south.
Expect an onshore flow NE-E/NE , continuing into Tues. Surf-wise we should see at least a steady increase in size through Mon/Tues- likely into the 6ft range.
Predictability and confidence in outcomes then takes a nosedive depending on the outcomes of the potential TC (Nat). If it remains slower moving in the Coral Sea the size increase will be delayed. Onshore winds will be an issue under this scenario.
One modelled outcome is a coast-hugging system which would see large to XL swells develop from the NE-E/NE, possibly as early as Wed. Depending on the speed of movement we’d expect a very rapid rise in size (8-12ft as a guide) and potential drop-off as the system passed by.
We’ll flag these potential outcomes for now, and keep a weather eye on all the available track and intensity data as it comes to hand, with a full report back on Wed, as well as below the line updates, most likely in the QLD notes.