Slowly building towards a large kick Monday
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 21st May)
Best Days: Fri: small building south swell, with a fun E/NE swell. Sat/Sun: slowly building south swell, and a fading E/NE swell. Mon/Tues: strong south swell with great conditions.
Recap: Small long period south swell fading slowly through Tuesday. Small short range S’ly swell filling in today in the wake of a weak front that entered the SW Tasman overnight.
This week (May 20-23)
Not a great deal of surf is expected on Thursday however we’ll start to see a small, slow increase in new southerly swell during the day generated by a broad but ultimately moderate-strength frontal progression south of Tasmania yesterday.
Conditions should be clean with generally light N’ly winds but you’ll have to hit up the south swell magnets for the best waves - somewhere in the 1.5-2ft range at most south facing beaches (and smaller at beaches not open to the south), but bigger in the Hunter near 2-3ft at times.
There’s a chance that the swell may be a little undersized at dawn, and there’ll also be long breaks between the sets - but on the whole you should find something rideable at the regional swell magnets.
Friday’s looking a little better with a little more south swell (not much though, just a slight increase from Thursday) however a new E/NE swell will also start to build across the coast, having been generated by a tidy low pressure system located mid-way between New Zealand and Samoa over the last few days.
The models seem to be under calling size prospects from this source (as they are for the south swell too) and I think there’s a good chance for inconsistent 2ft+ waves throughout the day at most open beaches.
Conditions are looking nice and clean everywhere with light offshore winds so it’ll be well worth booking in a session at an open beach as this combination of swells should work well together.
This weekend (May 24-25)
We’ve got a very good weekend of waves in store for southern NSW. Friday’s E/NE swell is expected to persist through Saturday with inconsistent sets in the 2ft+ range, and we’ll see a rebuilding south swell from the back half of a long conveyer belt of weather systems traversing the Southern Ocean south of Tasmania at the moment.
Set waves should approach the 2-3ft+ range at south facing beaches by the end of the day (smaller early morning, and smaller elsewhere), and the Hunter should see bigger waves from this source. However, you’ll have to surf early on Saturday as a fresh S’ly change is due in before lunchtime (in Sydney, earlier on the South Coast) and that’ll confine the best afternoon waves to the protected southern corners.
Sunday will see slowly easing - and very inconsistent - E/NE swell, but a further pulse of S’ly groundswell should keep set waves in the 2-3ft+ range at most south facing beaches, smaller elsewhere but bigger in the Hunter (I’ve downgraded the forecast a little from Monday, as the responsible front isn’t expected to push quite as far north as initially modeled). Conditions are looking great too with light variable winds for the most part.
Just bear in mind that this south swell will be very inconsistent, so you’ll have to be quite patient at times - but there’ll be good waves if you can dial into a good bank at an exposed swell magnet.
Long term (May 26 onwards)
The final frontal push in this series responsible for the persistent south swell is expected to be the biggest of all. This next round of energy is expected to push through early Monday and should reach 4-6ft at exposed south facing beaches (smaller elsewhere), and conditions are looking great with light variable winds that’ll tend moderate N’ly on the South Coast in the afternoon. Should even see a few bigger waves across the Hunter upwards of 6ft+ at times. Well worth pencilling in a surf if you've got the right coordinates for this size range and direction.
Monday’s swell is expected to ease slowly from Tuesday onwards, and freshening NW winds will maintain clean conditions.
Looking beyond this and we’ve got another S’ly change due mid-week that looks like it’ll generate a strong S’ly groundswell through Thursday and Friday of next week, thanks to a long and broad S’ly fetch stretching from the Tasmanian East Coast way down to polar latitudes. More on this in Friday’s update.