Very large surf due mid-week
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 1st September)
Best Days: Tues: fun clean beachies early. Wed/Thus: very large, windy swell with waves at unusual spots. Sat/Sun: small clean leftovers at exposed beaches.
Recap: A solid SE swell filled in on Saturday with 6-8ft waves reported at most open beaches. However, strong S/SW winds generally limited surfable options to protected southern corners. Wave heights eased steadily throughout the first half of Sunday however 6ft sets were observed at most locations early morning. Conditions remained clean all morning with light offshore winds, and a weak afternoon sea breeze ruffled the surface as a secondary E/SE swell filled in after lunch, pulsing back up to 4-6ft at some exposed beaches. This swell has slowly eased overnight, with perfect 4-5ft waves and light offshore winds on offer this morning right across the coast. Weak sea breezes kicked in after lunch at most locations with wave heights easing a little.
This week (Sep 2-5)
After a couple of days of sublime, solid beach breaks we’ve got a total reversal on the cards for the rest of this week.
A strong frontal system is expected to cross the coast during Tuesday, bringing S/SW gales to most regions by the afternoon. Prior to this we’ll see dying leftover E/SE swell across the coast, with clean but inconsistent 2-3ft+ sets and freshening W/SW winds (this change will hit the South Coast early-mid morning, so you’ll need to aim for a dawn session south of Wollongong).
Once the change comes through we’ll see an initial increase in short range south swell that’ll provide 3ft+ sets for south facing beaches by the end of the day - however quality will be low at these locations due to the accompanying winds.
A small low pressure centre is expected form along the frontal boundary on Tuesday afternoon, offshore from about Sydney, and as this occurs we’ll see wind strengths increasing considerably immediately off our coast - probably upwards of 45-50kts. The core of this fetch looks to be positioned north from about Jervis Bay, and aimed up into the Mid North Coast - so the biggest waves from this event look to be positioned north of Sydney.
However by no means will this be a small event elsewhere - model data has upgraded this swell significantly in the last 24 hours, and we’re looking at some macking waves across the Sydney basin on Wednesday - probably 10ft+ at south facing beaches in Sydney, and closer to 10-12ft+ across the Hunter region (likely to peak mid-late morning). Surf size will probably be a couple of feet smaller on the South Coast due to the position and alignment of the fetch.
[For reference, our automated surf forecast model seems to be overcalling wave heights at the peak of the swell on Wednesday (12-15ft south facing beaches) but this is likely to be associated with a heavy windswell loading from the close fetch source.]
Of course, conditions will be atrocious on Wednesday with gale to storm force SW tending S/SW winds, but an event like this will generate lots of waves at all kinds of unusual corners and coves that don’t normally receive swell. So, if you’re prepared to work around the wind and weather there could be some interesting options.
Wednesday’s winds will ease slightly on Thursday as the low tracks eastwards into the Tasman Sea, however they’ll still have some bite (probably down to 20-30kts at this time). We should see early SW winds at many locations but at this kind of strength it'll be challenging at locations completely exposed to the elements.
Wave heights will also ease but it’s possible that south facing beaches will still be in the 8ft to maybe even 10ft range early morning (and bigger in the Hunter) ahead of a steady easing trend during the day towards 6ft+. So, protected southern corners and funky points will still be your only port of call for much of the day.
By Friday, we’ll really be on the backside of this swell with rapidly easing wave heights (4-5ft south facing beaches early, smaller later) and much lighter winds - even a chance for an early offshore. However there will still be some wobble on top leftover from the previous few days’ southerlies so keep your expectations low.
This weekend (Sep 6-7)
Nothing of major interest on target for the weekend at this stage. We’re looking at much lighter winds with residual surf across most beaches - there should plenty of options at exposed beaches but quality will be dependent on how much the large mid-week swell kicks the sand around. I'm a little concerned that the models have a weak ridge to the south, driving an onshore airstream across the Sydney and Hunter regions, but it's best to give it a few days before making a final decision as to whether this will heavily influence the weekend's surf prospects. Let's take a closer look at this on Wednesday.
Longer term (Sep 8 onwards)
A strong front is expected to push up towards the southern Tasman Sea on Sunday, and should generate a quality south swell for southern NSW early next week (probably arriving during Monday afternoon, peaking early Tuesday). It’s still a long time away but early indications are for some great waves through the first half of next week. More on this in Wednesday’s update.