More south swell, then variable options for the weekend

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 12th November)

Best Days: Thurs: strong S'ly swell (and a small E/NE swell in the mix) with OK winds for a brief period early morning. Fri: fun small mix of S/SE, NE and E/NE swells with a brief period of NW winds. Sat/Sun: nothing great but likely to be a few small windows at exposed beaches. Probably Sunday morning the pick at this stage.

Recap: Small mix of east and south swells on Tuesday morning, ahead of a building south swell in the afternoon. We’ve seen the same underlying east swell today but with a building south swell that’s now producing 4ft sets at south facing beaches (and may pulse a little bigger this afternoon). See surfcam screen below from mid-afternoon.

This week (Nov 13-14)

*brief notes this afternoon as I’m on the road*

Wave heights have come in on the underside of forecast expectation (4ft south facing beaches against a forecast of 4-5ft) however the early light offshore breeze created clean conditions ahead of a freshening sea breeze this afternoon.

There’s still no major change to the outlook for the rest of the week - we’ll see a reasonably strong day of south swell on Thursday, thanks to a secondary pulse pushing through tonight. However, I’ve revised wave heights back a smidge to somewhere between 3ft and occasionally 5ft at south facing beaches, with smaller surf at remaining locations (although bigger 6ft+ sets are likely in the Hunter). Expect reasonable breaks between the bigger sets too.

Also sitting underneath this dominant south swell will be a persistent, small E/NE swell (similar to the last few days) that should produce inconsistent 2ft sets at most open beaches. 

Freshening E/NE winds are expected all day but the early morning should offer a period of light variable winds for a few hours, that may trend offshore NW in some regions. 

Friday will offer a small mix of swells from the east and south - albeit fading in size - and a fresh southerly change is due late. We’ll also see a small NE windswell thanks to Thursday’s freshening winds, so most beaches should see peaky waves in the 2ft range, with south facing beaches likely to see bigger sets around 2-3ft. Winds will freshen from the NE during the day ahead of the change but again, early light NW winds are possible (in fact these may persist through the middle of the day if we’re lucky).

This weekend (Nov 15-16)

The models have moved around a little over the last few days, but there’s a new source of swell in the outlook too.

A slight downgrade of Friday’s NE fetch means that we’re looking at only small surf from this source on Saturday, and although it has sped up the southerly change (initially due early Saturday morning, but now likely later Friday), it doesn’t look like this will be much of a swell producer either. 

However the parent low to the south will have traversed our southern swell window on Thursday and Friday, and this looks like it’ll kick up a couple of feet of southerly swell for exposed south facing beaches - probably later Saturday afternoon and into Sunday. Let's aim for 2ft sets at locations with good southerly exposure.

Wind wise, it’s looking very tricky with a trough pattern expected to dominate the coast ahead of a vigorous front due late Sunday. This will probably provide us with winds from every corner of the compass (likely to veer anti-clockwise over the course of Saturday and Sunday, i.e. early SE tending NE, then N’ly, W’ly then S’ly). 

Also, I wouldn’t rule out the short range NE swell window over the weekend - models have a strong fetch off the North Coast for much of this time, albeit well outside our swell window. This could very well turn in our favour before Friday’s notes are updated so stay tuned to the update then. 

Long term (Nov 17 onwards)

Much of the same for the longer term with coastal troughy patterns and a a series of cold fronts moving through the southern Tasman Sea early next week. So our swell prospects look to be small to moderate south swells for a few days, with intermittent pulses of small short range NE windswells. More on this in Friday’s notes.