Large windy weekend ahead
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 18th June)
Best Days: Sat/Sun: large south swell but very windy at times. Mon: easing S/SE swell with improving conditions. Tues/Wed/Thurs/Fri: fun small south swell with generally favourable winds.
Recap: Tiny clean conditions Thursday ahead of a new south swell that’s slowly building in side across the region right now. Sets to 4ft had been observed at the Bondi surfcam at the time this report was prepared (3:30pm) but it’s continuing to build and should be considerably larger by sundown. Winds are gusty from the W/SW tending SW.
This weekend (July 19-20)
Big and windy: that’s what this weekend has in store for us. The low pressure system currently developing off the coast is quite impressive, but in all honesty it’s only generating just a bog-standard large south swell event, perhaps a little bigger than what we usually see from these kinds of weather patterns.
For the most part, strong southerly winds will write off most locations so you’re going to have to tuck into a sheltered southern corner for the best waves. The current building swell is expected to reach a peak overnight or early Saturday morning and will trend slowly downwards throughout the day.
South facing beaches should see early 8ft to possibly 10ft sets but most open beaches will be smaller near 4-6ft, with 2-3ft surf expected inside sheltered southern corners. Expect smaller waves into the afternoon. Strong SW tending S’ly winds (early on) are expected at most locations however we may see early W/SW at a few locations (i.e. Northern Beaches) for a few hours around dawn.
Sunday actually looks a little more promising than Saturday despite the likelihood of similar winds - albeit with an abating trend throughout the day. The reason I'm more interested in Sunday is due to the arrival of a second strong pulse of S/SE groundswell, generated by a secondary low pressure system that's expected to develop east of Tasmania overnight, before it tracks through the south-western Tasman Sea on Saturday, working on the active sea state generated by the current front/low combo.
This will help in kicking up a similar size swell - as per Saturday morning - but with a marginally longer swell period, and a touch more S/SE in the swell direction, ahead of a steady easing trend throughout the day. Again, only protected locations will be worthwhile but there should be some impressive lines marching up the coast. Keep an eye out for an early period of W/SW winds in some regions early morning too (again, mainly on the Northern Beaches).
Next week (July 21-25)
No major weather systems are expected to develop within our swell window(s) next week, so the overall trend is downwards from Monday onwards. Fortunately, the Long Wave Trough will have moved slightly further away from the Australian mainland by the start of the week (east of New Zealand) and with a high pressure ridge moving in from the west, we should see lighter W/SW tending SW winds in most regions.
South facing beaches will continue to pick up the biggest waves - maybe some 4-5ft sets early Monday - but it’ll drop steadily during the day, down to 2-3ft. Smaller surf is expected through Tuesday with similarly favourable winds.
A series of fronts skirting the far Southern Ocean below Tasmania/New Zealand early next week are expected to generate some small long period south swell that’ll keep us moving at exposed south facing beaches for the second half of next week. No major size is expected form these sources but with generally light winds on offer there should be some fun waves around.
Longer term (July 26 onwards)
Current model guidance suggests another front will cross the SE corner of the country later next week or early in the weekend, leading to another round of short range south swell sometime Saturday or Sunday. Otherwise there are no other sources of long range swell on the cards.