Up and down south swell all week

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 27th October)

Best Days: Small S'ly swell Tuesday, large S'ly swell Wednesday, small S'ly swell Thursday, long period S'ly swell Friday. Most days should see early offshores and afternoon sea breezes. 

Recap: Plenty of NE swell across the coast on Saturday although mixed conditions were reported between various spots (mainly owing to an early high tide which swallowed up some of the swell). Sets of 3-4ft were observed at many NE swell magnets, and early offshore winds gave way to a shallow southerly change mid-morning. A smaller combination of NE and S’ly swell padded out Sunday with exposed spots managing 2ft+ sets. Surf size dropped a little more into this morning and early light N’ly winds are freshening from the N/NE and recently went W'ly ahead of gusty S’ly change due later today.

Next week (Oct 28-31)

We’ve got a busy week of south swell across the region. A small new south swell is expected to fill into the southern NSW coast on Tuesday, originating from a gale force W/SW airstream existing eastern Bass Strait this evening: the southerly change advancing along the coast doesn’t have much of a fetch trailing behind, and therefore won’t itself contribute much new swell. 

These fetches always create interesting results along the southern NSW coast, mainly due to the axis of refraction resulting from such a focused, narrow airstream pointing almost 150 degrees the wrong way.

Usually, we see swell energy starting to reach south facing beaches north from about Ulladulla, with much smaller surf south of here, even exposed spots. To the north, size really starts to kick in properly across the Sydney region and is magnified a little more in the Hunter.

So for Tuesday we should see a building trend into the 2-3ft range across south facing beaches in Sydney - however this energy may not quite be into fifth gear at first light (a peak is expected mid-late morning). Larger 3-4ft sets are likely across the Hunter but it’ll be much smaller at all beaches not completely open to the south. Conditions will be clean early morning with light offshore winds but NE sea breezes are expected through the afternoon as the swell begins to slowly fade. 

On Wednesday, we’ll see a much bigger southerly swell push through generated by an intense low (actually, the parent system to today’s southerly change) as it rounds the Tasmanian corner into the lower Tasman Sea. The latest model guidance has strengthened this system and pushed it into a slightly more favourable part of our swell window, so we’ve had a size upgrade since Friday. 

South facing beaches across the Illawarra and Sydney coasts should see a building trend towards 4-6ft by the afternoon (smaller in the morning), and the Hunter region could see a few sneaky 6ft to nearly 8ft bombs at times. Again, winds are expected to be light to moderate W/SW early (following a gusty overnight SW change which should have throttled back by dawn) and easterly sea breezes are expected after lunchtime - this has the potential to diminish quality  at exposed spots so keep an eye out for these winds.  Either way, there should be plenty of options throughout the day, even if it is a little bumpy after lunch.

Thursday will see a rapid drop in southerly swell but there’ll still be plenty on offer at south facing beaches early (inconsistent 3ft+ sets), and a similar regime as per the last few days (early light offshores, afternoon sea breezes). However with a steady easing trend throughout the day it could become very small through the afternoon. 

On Friday, a very long period south swell - generated by an intense polar low travelling south of the continent mid-week - is expected to track along the southern NSW coast, displaying swell periods in the 19-20 second range. 

Although the responsible fetch is not likely to line up very well within the East Coast’s south swell window, we should still see some decent lines marching into south facing beaches and I think our model is slightly undercalling the eventual surf size - we should see inconsistent but long-lined sets somewhere around 3-4ft, with bigger bombs pushing 4-6ft+ across the exposed Hunter coast late in the day. 

It’ll be much, much smaller at beaches not open to the south however with early light winds freshening form the north during the day, there should be some good options at south swell magnets up and down the coast.

This weekend (Nov 1-2)

Another strong front and low is expected to cross the Tasmanian region overnight Saturday, but prior to this we’ll see strengthening NE winds through Friday night that should whip up a small peaky NE windswell for Saturday morning.

This should tie in nicely with easing leftover southerly groundswell from Friday to provide fun peaky waves at exposed beaches; winds look like they could be NW at some point too ahead of the change (not due in until after dinner time at this point). It's too early to put a size on it but somewhere between 2ft and maybe 3ft seems a reasonable ball park for now.

Sunday looks average at this stage with moderating S’ly winds and a peaky mix of low grade swells, mainly out of the south. I’ll have a  closer look at this on Wednesday.

Long term (Nov 1 onwards)

More southerly swell due for next week as the storm track remains active in the lower Tasman Sea. It’s too far out to pin down specifics but for now all signs are positive for plenty of Tasman swell for the foreseeable future.


oiley's picture
oiley's picture
oiley Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 at 9:02am

tue morning far exceeded expectation.. damb clean

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 at 10:04am

Exceeded expectations? Seems to be close to what I was expecting (at least in Sydney); 2-3ft and clean with offshore winds. 

oiley's picture
oiley's picture
oiley Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 at 1:57pm

not knocking your report ben - was just pleasantly suprised to find a local break where the south swell was delivering the goods..

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014 at 4:16pm

Slowly getting there - plenty of 4ft sets at Bondi now, seen a couple of bigger bombs too. Should get a little bigger by the end of the day.