Plenty of surf in southern NSW

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 2nd June)

Best Days: Thurs: good S'ly groundswell, easing slowly during the day. Fri: small fun south swell with offshore winds. Sat/Sun: small mix of south swells with good winds Sat, possibly dicey Sun. Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs: on target for a series of SE groundswells, with a chance that we could see some solid action mid-late week.

Recap: Strong but somewhat patchy south swell across southern NSW, with the swell ebbing and pulsing more dramatically than was expected (both Tuesday morning and this morning came in undersized, but in similarity to yesterday mid-late morning, we’re now seeing a kick across the coast). We have received some reports of 4-6ft waves from the South Coast and Hunter region, however other more typically reliable locations (i.e. Northern Beaches) have come in under expectations. Great conditions with sunny skies and light offshore winds.

This week (July 1 - July 4)

The rest of the week looks very good for East Coast surfers. Although wave heights will trend downwards, there are a couple of new sources of energy that will maintain plenty of size across the region.

First up is the final front in the series from earlier this week, currently pushing through the central/eastern Tasman Sea right now. It’s not very well aligned for the East Coast but it is working on top of a pre-existing sea state and this will assist swell/period growth. This swell is due to glance the southern NSW coast later this afternoon and will probably peak overnight ahead of a slow easing trend on Thursday. We should see good 3-4ft waves at south facing beaches early morning before easing during the day, and conditions will be clean with light W/NW winds that’ll tend variable in the afternoon. Northern Hunter beaches may pick up a little more size.

Another front will enter the Tasman Sea later today, but it’ll be even less favourably aligned towards the East Coast and will transition to NZ longitudes pretty quickly. However, we should still see a small pulse of south swell from this source Friday morning - and as suggested in Monday’s notes, the automated forecast model has upgraded the Friday 6am figure to 2-3ft (it’ll be smaller elsewhere). Winds will hold from the NW all day so conditions will be nice and clean, and as per Thursday, we’ll probably see another foot or maybe even two in the Hunter from this swell. Expect a slight easing trend during the day, and a degree of inconsistency too.

There’s one other source of swell that’s worth putting on the radar, and if we see anything it’ll arrive late Friday afternoon - and more likely on the South Coast than in the Sydney/Hunter region. A small cut off low is forming well south of New Zealand right now, and has merged with the trailing fronts responsible for our current (and Thursday’s) south swells. This low has recently formed a tight but short-lived fetch of S/SE winds that’ll provide a small but long period S/SE swell for the region. Unfortunately this swell will probably arrive very late in the day, before peaking overnight Friday and easing steadily through early Saturday (maybe some stray 2ft+ sets if we're lucky), but nonetheless it’ll be interesting to see how it registers across the NSW buoy array.

This weekend (July 5-6)

The weekend forecast is still a little tricky to pin down the specifics. We’ve got a couple of sources of swell, all from the south, and overall we should see something quite rideable - but Saturday looks to be your best day.

Initially, on Saturday there’ll be a mix of easing S’ly and S/SE swell from Friday’s sources in the water, with occasional 2ft sets at south facing beaches (smaller elsewhere), with a few bigger waves in the Hunter (becoming smaller during the day across all regions though). However, a small but intense Southern Ocean low is expected to track up towards southern NZ on Friday - making landfall overnight - and while not very well aligned for the East Coast (again!), we’re looking at yet another small, long period groundswell arriving sometime from late Saturday through Sunday (maybe some 2-3ft sets at south facing beaches, bigger in the Hunter). 

The timing here is crucial though - I doubt we’ll see much action before mid-afternoon Saturday (across Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra beaches) however there is a risk on Sunday that winds will tend SW thru/ S/SW and become quite gusty, as a small low forms in the Tasman Sea. At this stage it looks like Sunday morning could be OK with mainly W/SW winds across the region however I am concerned that we’ll see conditions become less favourable during the day. 

Also, accompanying the model divergence for the weekend is a chance for yet another source of swell for late Sunday - the European model is suggesting we’ll see a reasonable E’ly fetch develop mid-way between the developing low and a high pressure system well to the south (with the fetch being around Tamsanian latitudes). Is this eventuates, the fetch would be better aligned for the Far South Coast, and Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra beaches probably wouldn’t see an increase until Monday. However, it’s all quite low confidence stuff right now so let’s take a look in Friday’s update.

Long term (July 7 onwards)

As per the last few days, model guidance is still quite divergent on the specifics beyond the weekend. But the good news is that they’re all pointing towards a couple of swell sources - (1) a small/moderate E’ly fetch at Tasmanian latitudes through Sunday, that could supply a small but fun SE swell through Monday and Tuesday, and (2) a stronger, long-lived E’ly fetch west of Cook Strait (the passage of water between NZ’s North and South Islands) which could kick up a better SE swell for Tuesday/Wednesday

In fact, the European model is suggesting that we’ll see some tropical developments south of New Caledonia early next week that could merge with the stalled trough/low off NZ’s West Coast, with potential for a large E/NE groundswell later next week (centred around Thursday, holding for a day or two). And at the same time, yet another strong front/low combo is expected to barrel its way across Victoria and Tasmania mid-late next week, with a solid south swell due in southern NSW later next week or the following weekend. I’ll refine the long range outlook in more detail on Friday. 


Ray Collins's picture
Ray Collins's picture
Ray Collins Wednesday, 2 Jul 2014 at 2:53pm

i love you

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy Wednesday, 2 Jul 2014 at 6:15pm

A bit more east next week would be an improvement. Those long southerly lines tend to miss a lot of the beach breaks north of the harbour and shut down the rest. I've scored some great waves over the last couple of days but it was an exercise in patience and positioning with 10-15 minutes between them most of the time. Sitting still for that long at this time of year isn't my preferred approach!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 2 Jul 2014 at 6:38pm

Totally, this recent event forced me further afield, but it paid off.