Small surf all 'round

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 10th September)

Best Days: No great days, really. Friday'll have a few lumpy waves at south facing beaches; Saturday is the pick with a small south swell at exposed beaches, and mainly light winds aheads of a sea breeze. Otherwise late Mon/Tues/Wed are looking at a reasonable south swell.

Recap: Small average waves Tuesday with freshening northerly winds. A fun short range NE swell has provided great waves today with early light NW winds tending fresh W’ly early-mid morning, and clean conditions persisting into the afternoon. Surf size seems to be in the 2-3ft range across most NE facing beaches in Sydney. 

This week (Sep 11-12)

The fetch responsible for today’s NE swell is already realigning itself away from our swell window, and weakening at the same time, so we’re not going to see much leftover activity into Thursday.

This is a shame as conditions will be nice and clean with light offshore winds. Expect tiny leftovers - perhaps a few stray 1ft to maybe 2ft waves at super exposed NE swell magnets early morning, but down to a foot or less by mid-late morning, and thru’ the afternoon. Smaller surf is likely at south facing beaches, and in the Northern Hunter. So keep your expectations very low.

On Thursday evening a moderate front is expected to ‘round the (Green) Cape and track northwards along the southern NSW coast, reaching Sydney just after midnight. This will kick up a low quality south swell for Friday, that’ll unfortunately be accompanied by mainly moderate to fresh southerly winds in the morning (easing during the afternoon). 

Surf size should reach 2-3ft at exposed south facing beaches during the day - perhaps a smidge bigger in the Hunter - but don’t expect much in the way of quality as those beaches offering protection from the wind will be much smaller. There’s a chance for a brief window of SW winds at dawn along the Northern Beaches but in general most locations will probably fall under the southerly synoptic influence.  So, it’ll be surfable but don’t get your hopes up for anything amazing.

This weekend (Sep 13-14)

Still nothing fantastic expected for the weekend. Friday’s south swell will last only a short while and will have mostly evaporated by early Saturday. Model data still has a small secondary south swell pushing through on Saturday morning (originating well south of Tasmania later this week) however I don’t think we’ll see much more than an occasional 2ft+ set at exposed south facing beaches in the morning. You will certainly need to be patient as this small swell will be rather inconsistent, and lacking in strength.

If anywhere, the Hunter region should pick up a few bigger sets and with light winds on offer there might be some fun beachbreaks in the 2-3ft range. However the remainer of the southern NSW coast will see rideable waves restricted mostly to exposed south facing beaches. Afternoon NE breezes are also on the cards.

By Sunday, this fleeting south swell will have also gone, and we’re looking at tiny waves at most spots, even the swell magnets. It will be clean though with freshening NW tending W’ly winds as a cold front slides into the southern Tasman Sea.

In short - aim for a south swell magnet on Saturday, preferably in the morning before the afternoon nor’easter crops up.

Longer term (Sep 15 onwards)

Unfortunately Monday’s progs for next week’s significant low in the south-western Tasman have been significantly downgraded. 

That being said, I think our automated surf forecast model is majorly undercalling things right now - the low/front combo is still expected to maintain some strength through the lower Tasman Sea on Sunday and Monday, and we should see a building south swell from late Monday onwards, peaking Tuesday with south facing beaches likely to see 3-4ft sets. 

If there’s a positive to glean from the model-downgrade, it’s that local winds will be a hell of a lot better than if the low were positioned just off the coast. So we should have some great waves at exposed beaches into the middle of the week with freshening N/NW winds due on Wednesday.

In fact we’re likely to see more S/SE in the swell direction (due to the eastern position of the front) so this should allow for a slightly broader spread of surf size across the region.

Otherwise, it seems that Wednesday’s freshening northerlies will precede a strong southerly change later in the week, keeping our south swell window active for some time. More on this in Friday’s  update.