Uninspiring weekend, but a few options next week

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 21st November)

Best Days: No great days. Wednesday has the most promise at this stage with a decent S'ly swell on the cards, but local winds look iffy. Tues AM may also have some small clean NE beachies under a NW wind.

Recap: Thursday morning offered a few stray sets of fading south swell - with a reasonable amount of size in the Hunter for a few hours - before tailing off quickly during the day as northerly winds picked up. Today has seen a fun NE swell across Sydney and Illawarra beaches, somewhere between 2ft and almost 3ft with clean conditions under a light offshore breeze and afternoon sea breeze (light in most areas, but Kurnell is picking up 10-15kts).

This weekend (Nov 22-23)

Not a great weekend of surf ahead. Today’s NE swell will fade a little through Saturday and a gusty overnight southerly change (due this evening) will add a small level of short range energy for south facing beaches. 

I’m not expecting much more than a couple of feet at exposed spots - perhaps a smidge more in the Hunter - but early morning winds are looking tricky, in the lee of the change.

Model guidance has it down to around 15kts out of the S/SE at dawn (having been upwards of 25kts overnight as the change pushes through), and it’s hard to have confidence for a period of light, terrestrially-induced offshore winds across the coast. That being said, winds will certainly ease quickly during the day and we should see a light variable flow by lunchtime or early afternoon, ahead of moderate sea breeze into the afternoon.

So, the prospect of small low-strength surf with tricky winds doesn’t bode well for Saturday surfers. Best chance for a wave will probably be through the middle of the day with the lighter winds, although southern corners should have options in the morning (as they’ll pick up the small residual NE swell, and offer protection from the S’ly breeze).

Sunday will see a return to a freshening nor’easter ahead of a shallow S’ly change due overnight. I can’t see there being much more than a slow foot or two at exposed beaches, and with a generally unfavourable wind forecast (except from the early morning, when it’ll be light and variable) there’s really nothing to get too excited about.

Next week (Nov 24 onwards)

A continuation of this troughy/nor’east pattern on Monday will maintain small peaky NE windswells for the coast ahead of a vigorous southerly change due on Tuesday. At this stage its timing suggests a very late increase in short range swell across the coast (say, 3ft+ on dark) but quality probably won’t be high with the accompanying fresh southerly winds.

However, NW winds ahead of the change, plus a small peaky NE swell could provide some fun small waves at exposed NE facing beaches on Tuesday morning.

Fortunately, the parent low to this southerly change - much further south in the southern Tasman/Southern Ocean - will kick up a better quality southerly swell for Wednesday. South facing beaches should pick up 3-4ft sets in the morning, but local winds are undecided as yet as current model guidance has a moderate ridge across the coast that could deliver onshores to the region. Let’s reevaluate on Monday.

Looking beyond this and there’s not much excitement on the cards. A series of fronts trailing the system responsible for the mid week swell will maintain small levels of southerly energy through the back half of the week, with a suggestion for a more prominent S/SE groundswell next weekend off a deep polar low riding caboose (let's wait and see, eh?). 

Otherwise, our remaining swell windows to the east and north-east look rather uninteresting at the moment, with no notable features into the long term. let’s hope it all changes by the time Monday’s data is refreshed.