Easing swells Saturday, building swells Sunday

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 11th June)

Best Days: Sat: Clean with an easing combo of swells. Sun/Mon: strong S'ly swell but with dicey winds. Tues/Wed: easing S'ly swell with improving conditions.

Recap: Large, clean E/SE swell Thursday around 5-6ft between the Hunter and Wollongong, with bigger waves on the South Coast. Light to moderate offshore winds freshening throughout the day (gustier in the south). Combo of easing E/SE swell and building S’ly swell today with light offshore winds. Set waves around 3-4ft at most beaches, although becoming quite inconsistent this afternoon.

This weekend (July 12-13)

What a swell, eh? Thursday really delivered the goods right across southern NSW. No doubt you’ve already seen a few galleries here so I won’t go into specifics; nevertheless pretty much everywhere was pumping.

The south swell that built this morning appears to be - judging by the MHL buoy data and surfcam observations - reaching a peak in size right now. As of the time this report was prepared (4pm), the Bondi surfcam still had clean 3-4ft sets (see images below) however it’s much less consistent than earlier in the day.

The weekend’s going to start off a little on the small side. Both existing swells will ease further overnight, and we’ll be left with smaller peaky waves for Saturday with freshening W’ly winds ahead of a gusty S/SW change that’s expected to reach the South Coast around lunchtime and the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra region late afternoon. South facing beaches will see the most size on Saturday morning, with inconsistent 2ft+ sets on offer (bigger in the Hunter) however it’ll probably trend downwards during the day.

Saturday’s late S’ly change will be a part of a broad frontal system sweeping the entire Tasman Sea.  This is expected to kick up a pretty decent short range south swell for Sunday however we will see dicey winds in most regions with a fresh and gusty S/SW tending S’ly airstream. As we sometimes experience under these synoptic patterns, a few localised regions often experience a brief period of W/SW winds early morning - mainly the Northern Beaches - however this is much less likely south of the Sydney CBD, and also across the Hunter. So, keep your expectations low for any major quality in the surf department. 

As for size on Sunday - wave heights should reach 3-5ft at south facing beaches (perhaps a little bigger in the Hunter) but you’ll be best off at a beach offering some protection from the wind, where it’ll also be smaller. Southern corners will be very small owing to the swell direction and generally low period. 

Next week (July 14-18)

A secondary front rounding the Tasmanian bend into the Tasman Sea on Sunday will kick up a marginally smaller south swell for Monday, probably reaching 3-4ft at exposed south facing beaches (and bigger in the Hunter). We’re looking at a similar, but slightly weaker synoptic pattern as well - generally moderate to fresh S/SW thru’ S’ly winds, but this time with a slightly greater - and spatially broader - chance for a few hours of W/SW winds (best chance for this is the Northern Beaches, again). Expect smaller cleaner waves at non-south facing beaches.

Monday’s swell will then ease slowly from Tuesday onwards with light variable winds tending NW through Wednesday and strengthening from the west on Thursday as another frontal passage approaches from the west. Both days should have some fun waves on offer at south facing beaches.

This impending weather system for the end of next week looks like it’ll follow the same storm track as what we’ve seen over the last few months - quite north in latitude, through Bass Strait (leading to another great round of snowfall!) - but the ramifications for surfers means flukey sources of south swell are possible on Friday - perhaps 3ft or so at south facing beaches across the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra coasts. More on this in Monday's update.

Long term (July 19 onwards)

As this weather progression clears Bass Strait and into the Tasman Sea on Saturday, we’ll see a much more pronounced chance at southerly swell at some point through next weekend and into the first few days of the following week. So right now all eyes will be on exactly when this occurs, as it could become quite sizeable - but we’ll have to see how the models evolve things over the coming week. Tune in Monday for more details.