Decent weekend of surf, wind and weather
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 23rd May)
Best Days: Sat/Sun: slowly building south swell, and a fading E/NE swell. Mon/Tues: strong south swell with great conditions.
Recap: Small south swell yesterday and today, plus a slowly building E/NE swell today. Light winds and sea breezes.
This weekend (May 24-25)
Looking fun across the region this weekend with a nice combo of swells out of the southern and eastern quadrants. The current building E/NE swell (generated earlier in the week from a low NE of New Zealand) is expected to reach a peak during Saturday with very inconsistent sets in the 2ft+ range. You will need to be very patient though.
In addition to this, we’ve got a series of south swells moving into the lower Tasman Sea that’s expected to reach a peak later Monday. Prior to then, we’ll see a slow increase through Saturday (2ft+ south facing beaches, smaller elsewhere) and further into Sunday (3ft+ south facing beaches, smaller elsewhere). The Hunter will pick up more size from this south swell - with a similar peak in size on Sunday - however just like the E/NE swell set waves will be very inconsistent right across the board.
Wind wise, it’s looking pretty good overall. A shallow southerly change change is expected to push along the South Coast mid-late Saturday morning, and should reach the Sydney region by early-mid afternoon, but there probably won’t be much strength in it. Prior to this, we’ll see early W’ly winds in most areas. A broad ridge of high pressure will develop across the coast on Sunday, leading to early light/variable winds for the most part. So with the south swell expected to peak during this time we’re looking at some fun waves in all areas open to the south.
Long term (May 26 onwards)
Early next week is looking excellent and well worth moving your diary around for, if you like strong south swells with light northerly winds. The final frontal push in the current Southern Ocean series is expected to be quite strong and broad, stretching from polar latitudes right up into the lower Tasman Sea (see chart below).
We’ll see this swell starting to show early Monday morning on the South Coast but it may not quite be in the water at dawn across the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions (but should be by mid-late morning). Surf size should reach 5-6ft at exposed south facing beaches, with smaller waves at remaining locations due to the swell direction - somewhere around 3ft+ at most open beaches and smaller 1-2ft surf inside sheltered southern corners.
Conditions are looking great overall with light variable winds (probably NW) tending N’ly and freshening during the day. So aside from the early morning period, you’ll have to look for some protection from the northerly breeze and it’ll become a little gusty on the South Coast late in the day.
This swell will ease fairly steadily through Tuesday, and winds will freshen from the north-west as a small short wave feature (read: front) approaches Bass Strait. So although we’ll see easing surf, conditions should be good at most of the open beaches (again, biggest at south facing beaches and across the Hunter).
Looking beyond Tuesday, and a series of strong fronts are expected to migrate through the mid-latitudes next week, roughly between the northern Bight and Tasmanian latitudes. Because these systems won’t really be positioned in Sydney’s southern swell window (which is south of Tasmania), there is somewhat limited surf prospects for the East Coast during this period - we’ll probably see a few small pulses of highly directional south swell during the longer term period, but nothing of any major significance at this stage. The first is likelty Wednesday afternoon with a second, possibly stronger swell due on Friday and maybe Saturday. Watch this space for tweaks.
Elsewhere, we’ve got another potential source of E/NE swell expected to set up camp NE of New Zealand early next week, roughly in the same position as the low earlier this week that’s generating the current E/NE swell - essentially a small high ridging east from New Zealand’s North Island and a deepening trough south of Tonga.
Model guidance isn’t in favour that this system will be very strong nor very well positioned for the southern NSW Coast, however in the absence of any other major swell events it’ll be worth keeping an eye on this over the weekend in case we see an abrupt about-face from the computer models. More on this in Monday’s update.