Down, down, wave heights are down

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 5th September)

Best Days: No great days. Plenty of surf all weekend but with dicey winds (actually, the South Coast will be OK). Maybe a small peaky NE wind wave on Wednesday.

Recap: Large, windy surf on Thursday (early W/SW, tending S/SW), easing today but still quite sizeable (early W/SW tending S’ly). 

This weekend (Sep 6-7)

No changes to the weekend forecast, except for a minor degree of manoeuvrability in the size department. 

In Wednesday’s notes I called for early 4ft sets at open beaches on Saturday, however based on the latest model data and this afternoon’s surfcam observations across the Sydney basin (which is still quite solid!), it could be a shade higher. As some spots may see slightly bigger waves, a safer call is for 3-5ft surf at open beaches early morning, easing during the day. 

The Hunter region will certainly see the upper end of this size range (say, 4-5ft+), with smaller surf likely south of Wollongong (3-4ft) before easing during the day. Wave heights will then continue to ease from 3ft Sunday morning across Sydney beaches (slightly bigger in the Hunter, but smaller on the South Coast).

Winds are the main wildcard this weekend. A strengthening high pressure system in the south of the state will drive a moderate SE airstream across most beaches north of Wollongong, rendering just about everywhere bumpy. These winds are expected to ease slowly during Saturday and further into Sunday, but without a synoptic offshore conditions wil remain below average. Winds will be lighter in the south of the state though.

However, there is a chance that the early morning will offer a brief period of light variable winds in a few select areas (Northern Beaches topping the list again, with the South Coast also a contender). I wouldn’t get your hopes up for anything amazing, but it’s certainly a possibility on Saturday with a marginally better chance of this early window on Sunday. 

As such, the take home message remains the same as issued Wednesday: you’ll definitely get wet all weekend, with the most size due early Saturday - but conditions will be variable so it’s not worth moving your diary around for.

Next week (Sep 8-12)

Earlier this week the models had a strong front pushing through the lower Tasman Sea later in the weekend, giving us a southerly groundswell sometime around next Tuesday.

The latest model data now has this system developing much further to the east - just outside of our swell window, and ironically as an absolutely beast of a polar low (with New Zealand’s South and East Coast expected to see an incredible, very large swell on Monday). 

So, that’s a very long winded way of saying that next week’s south swell has been downgraded to almost nothing. We’ll see a tiny south swell filter through overnight Monday and into Tuesday but there won’t be much in it at all.

Otherwise, we’re looking at small residual swells all week with very little size away from the swell magnets. A freshening northerly breeze should whip up a small NE windswell for the region late Tuesday and (more likely Wednesday). It probably won’t kick up much more than a couple of peaky feet in Sydney (at NE facing beaches) but the South Coast may see a little more size. Regardless, quality will be low at best so don’t get your hopes up. Nothing major on the radar for the second half of the week unfortunately either.

Longer term (Sep 13 onwards)

Part of the reason for the small spell next week is that the Long Wave Trough is expected to be transitioning below Australia during this period. Current model guidance has it slipping into the Tasman Sea late in the week or early in the weekend, which may give rise to a solid, windy south swell either next weekend of early in the following week. More on this in Monday’s update.


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Monday, 8 Sep 2014 at 4:33pm

No love for the forecast notes title? Tough crowd!