Small flukey south swells on tap
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 20th June)
Best Days: Sat/Sun: Small S’ly then S/SE swell with mainly good winds. Wed/Thurs/Fri: fun series of acute south swells with offshore winds.
Recap: Fun south swell on Thursday (inconsistent 2-3ft sets at south facing beaches) with light W’ly winds tending light to moderate N’ly during the day. A second, longer period south swell (Tp registering 16 seconds this morning) arrived mid-morning on Friday - a little behind schedule - so the dawn patrol was undersized. However south facing beaches are now seeing reasonably consistent 3ft sets. Winds were generally NW this morning, but have swing N’ly through the middle of the day (albeit without much strength).
This weekend (June 21-22)
No changes to the weekend forecast. Today’s south swell is expected to ease slowly through Saturday; exposed south facing beaches may see occasional 2ft+ sets early morning (bigger in the Hunter) but it’ll probably throttle back into the afternoon. Light offshore winds in most areas will keep conditions clean but bear in mind that beaches not open to the south will be very small.
During Saturday afternoon, a new pulse of small, long period S/SE groundswell is expected to reach the South Coast, generated by a small polar low that developed right on the tail end of the frontal passage that is responsible for the current south swell.
At this stage it’s unlikely to reach the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra coasts until very late in the day at the earliest - evening time is a more likely bet - so Sunday morning will be the best time to capitalise on this next round of energy. South facing beaches should reach 2-3ft from this source, with a few bigger waves in the Hunter region. A slow easing trend is likely throughout Sunday afternoon.
Wind wise, Sunday looks a little funky thanks to a small trough of low pressure that’s modelled to form in the western Tasman Sea on Saturday. This will swing Saturday’s W’ly winds to the SW for Sunday morning, before becoming variable on Sunday afternoon. Overall this shouldn’t cause too much trouble except in the northern Hunter region (i.e. Newcastle) that could see a deterioration in surface conditions if the sou'wester strengthens above 10-12kts.
Next week (June 23-27)
In Wednesday's notes, I discussed the possibility of a second small swell arriving Monday, originating from the same polar low responsible for Sunday’s energy - except that it’d be more SE in direction.
The models have slightly weakened this system over the last few days, and due to the large travel distance, I have correspondingly dropped the surf forecast for the start of next week. Overall there should still be some small residual south swell in the water (and a tiny SE swell) on Monday but I’m not expecting much more than a foot or two of inconsistent surf at best. It’s unlikely that there’ll be much energy away from open south facing beaches either.
As a side note, the weekend’s weak trough in the western Tasman Sea is expected to display a moderate E’ly fetch between 35-40S, that’ll kick up a small short range E’ly swell for the South Coast on Monday. No major size is expected from this though (occ 2ft sets) and as this fetch will be aimed towards eastern Bass Strait, it’s unlikely that we’ll see much, if any swell across the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra coasts. Freshening NW winds are expected all day Monday as a vigorous frontal passage approaches from the west.
These fronts are expected to track unusually north in latitude across the eastern states. In fact, their southern extend will be just south of southern Tasmanian longitudes - which means that south swell potential from this source will be flukey through the middle of next week, as it'll all originate from gale-force W/SW winds in eastern Bass Strait (see chart below).
That being said, we sometimes receive unusually good waves from this source (it's one of my favourite sneaky swell windows!) but you’ll have to keep a close eye on the surf cams as these pulses are often much harder to pin down in advance.
Current thinking is like this: Tuesday will be tiny with strengthening NW winds; Wednesday will see lighter W/NW winds and a small late pulse of south swell that could reach 2-3ft at exposed south facing beaches by the end of the day. Further intermittent pulses of south swell are likely through Thursday of a similar size (with moderate W’ly winds), with one final round of southerly swell due later Thursday or early Friday that could reach 3-4ft at south facing beaches, along with a moderate W/NE airstream.
Right throughout this period, the Hunter is on target for slightly bigger waves, due to its incredible magnetic qualities under south swells. However it’s likely that the timing of these swells will move around by Monday’s forecast so I’ll update the specifics as best I can then.
Longer term (June 28 onwards)
Nothing of major interest standing out in the super long range charts right now, so let’s keep a watchful eye to the southern swell window for the foreseeable future.