Terrible weekend; much better options next week

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 7th November)

Best Days: Wed/Thurs: strong S'ly swell (and a small E/NE swell in the mix) with OK winds in the morning.

Recap: Thursday morning was a big letdown. After upgrading Monday’s forecast in light of Wednesday’s strengthening NE winds - that whipped up 3ft+ of peaky short range energy that afternoon - wave heights dropped like a rocket around midnight, with barely 1-2ft of weak, unrideable surf leftover for the dawn patrol Thursday. A small southerly windswell built in the afternoon as expected although quality wasn’t very high due to the cross-onshore airstream. Small leftover southerly swell has padded out today with early light offshore winds swinging moderate onshore this afternoon. 

This weekend (Nov 8-9)

Poor waves ahoy! Pick your wind (freshening NE Saturday, shallow S’ly change early Sunday), throw in a small gutless windswell from each corresponding direction, and there’s your weekend forecast in a nutshell.

Seriously though, we’re looking at small junky waves both days - the only windows of opportunity that I can see are either early Saturday morning before the nor’easter freshens, where there may be a trickle of leftover south swell at exposed south facing beaches, or early Sunday morning where there may be a trickle of NE windswell thanks to Saturday evening’s winds. 

Sunday’s small NE windswell will be biggest on the South Coast (maybe 2ft if we’re lucky) however I’m really not expecting very much size in Sydney, and almost nothing in the Hunter. That being said, we should see a small short range south swell fill into most of the region’s exposed south facing beaches throughout the afternoon (say, 1-2ft+?), albeit bumpy in quality due to the accompanying onshore breeze. 

A good weekend to be spent doing something else away from the coast methinks.

Long term (Nov 10-14)

Next week is looking pretty fun in general. A strong front will enter the southern Tasman Sea on Monday, pushing a trough ahead of it (which will bring a southerly change to the coast, although without any swell).

However, we’ll see a small trade swell fill into the region during the morning from a small developing fetch in the northern Tasman Sea - probably not much size but perhaps an occasional 1-1.5ft set at exposed beaches.

On Tuesday we’ll start to see the beginnings of a reasonably strong southerly groundswell push through the southern NSW coast and this is expected to continue through Wednesday and Thursday.

At this stage Wednesday is expected to see a peak in size with south facing beaches likely to pick up 4-5ft+ sets, however Thursday should retain a healthy percentage of this size (Tuesday will initially start out small, but with a strong upwards trend all day). 

In addition to this, there’s been a slight upgrade in an unrelated E/NE swell that’s modelled to develop from a low north of New Zealand over the weekend. It’ll probably only contribute a couple of feet into the mix (arriving Wednesday) but should throw in some nice peaky options at exposed beaches. 

Winds are the main points of consideration for next week’s run of swell. At this stage Tuesday looks dicey with a lingering southerly flow in the wake of Monday’s change (low chance of early offshores, but wave heights will be small at this time anyway) but a building ridge of high pressure on Wednesday should create light variable winds at dawn ahead of a freshening NE flow in the afternoon.  Freshening NE winds are then expected Thursday, probably with a brief period of NW winds early morning.

Also worth keeping an eye out for is a possible S/SE groundswell originating from a polar low developing at the tail end of the southern Tasman frontal passage early next week. This may kick up a decent secondary groundswell sometime very late Thursday or (more likely) Friday, with a chance for some good quality sets in the 3-4ft range at south facing beaches. 

Also for Friday, early indications are that we’ll see a fun peaky NE windswell ahead of a gusty southerly change and associated increase in south swell. Obviously we still need a few more days to get the timing down but it’s currently shaping up to be a pretty dynamic week of waves. I’d pencil in Wednesday and Thursday at this stage.

Long term (Nov 15 onwards)

Models are leaning towards a reasonably strong cold front across the SE corner of the country sometime around next weekend. If this happens we can look forward to another punchy round of south swell across the southern NSW coast. More on this in Monday’s update.


ACB__'s picture
ACB__'s picture
ACB__ Monday, 10 Nov 2014 at 1:39pm

Sunday morning was alright around 7am on the central coast. small but clean nonetheless

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Monday, 10 Nov 2014 at 2:15pm

Really? Was barely a foot and a half on the Northern Beaches. Winds were however light before the southerly kicked in.