Sunday the pick of the forecast period

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 12th December)

Best Days: Sun: strong, easing E/SE swell with light winds. Mon: smaller, easing swell with good winds early. Tues/Wed: another shot of E/SE swell but winds are tricky

Recap: A very complex day Thursday: tiny to begin with but the S’ly change expected late afternoon rocked up much earlier than forecast, so we saw a rapid increase in short range south swell during the afternoon. Wave heights became large overnight and have persisted all day today (6-8ft open beaches) although strong onshore winds have made surface conditions very difficult.

This weekend (Dec 13th - 14th)

The surf’s looking really good for Sunday. But before we get there, we’ve got to endure a bumpy, leftover mess on Saturday. The low pressure system generating our current swell will meander slowly eastward through the Tasman Sea but will gradually lose steam, resulting in a easing surf trend.

Wave heights should still be solid - somewhere in the 6ft range across open Sydney beaches on Saturday morning, a little bigger in the Hunter but smaller south of Wollongong, but with fresh SE winds for the most part. 

Winds are expected to throttle back during the day but it’s likely to remain wobbly on top, even if we do see a more-rapid-than-expected drop in wind strength. So keep your expectations low and anticipate surfing in southern corners for the best waves. Wave heights will also ease slowly into the afternoon.

On Sunday, surf size will continue to wind back; initially we’ll see peaky sets between 3ft and 5ft at open beaches (again, a little bigger in the Hunter but smaller south of Wollongong) - but winds should be light and variable by this time. Smaller surf is expected through the afternoon.

There’s still likely to be a few lumps on the surface, but overall conditions should be very good - lots of heavy, mixed peaks across the open stretches. Weak sea breezes are likely in the afternoon. Well worth your attention.

Next week (Dec 15th - 19th)

Monday looks pretty good too. Winds are expected to tend northerly (early NW, afternoon NE) and surf size will continue a slow downwards trend  - probably 2-3ft+ at some exposed beaches to begin with, but smaller throughout the day. Aim for an early surf for the best combo of wind and size.

On Tuesday, we’re looking at a secondary pulse of swell from the same Tasman Low generating this current energy. Except, it will have originated from a mild intensification off the West Coast of New Zealand’s North Island through Sunday and Monday. Surf size won’t be large from this source - perhaps some inconsistent 3ft to almost 4ft sets at exposed beaches (yes, our surf model’s not picking this up very well right now) and the leading edge is expected to push through after lunch on Tuesday.

This timing is a little tricky to have confidence in, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s likely to reach a peak overnight Tuesday (before easing through Wednesday) and secondly - we’re looking at strengthening NE winds Tuesday afternoon - just as the swell arrives - in response to a gusty southerly change advancing along the southern NSW coast. So, local conditions may not play ball.

In any case, we’ll take a closer look at the data on Monday to see how this fetch fares over the weekend, and whether we’ll see a window of opportunity late Tuesday (with the nor’easter) or early Wednesday (with fresh southerlies).

Wednesday’s southerly change will whip up a short lived but probably punchy south swell for south facing beaches during the day - there should be some size in it (3-4ft+?) but it probably won’t have much strength, and those locations picking up the size will be bumpy.

The rest of the week looks like seeing easing swells with clean conditions (Thursday) ahead of a complex troughy pattern around Friday with another possible gusty southerly change and rapid increase in short range south swell that will probably influence next weekend's surf potential too. More on that in Monday’s update.


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Friday, 12 Dec 2014 at 5:10pm

Still some solid sets at Bondi!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Monday, 15 Dec 2014 at 5:29pm

Sorry guys, running late today. Forecast will be up around 7:45pm Syd time.