Pulsey swells from the north-east, plus some trade activity

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 22nd December)

Best Days: Tues/Wed: fun short range NE swell but local winds will probably ruin most of Tues. Better options early Wed with light winds ahead of a S'ly change. Next week: some promise for a small but decent trade swell.

Recap: Easing south swell on Saturday with clean conditions early ahead of a freshening sea breeze in the afternoon. Tiny residual swells Sunday with similar winds. Minor building NE windswell this morning but still too small for the early high tide. Size appears to be incrementally building from the NE (see surfcam stills below), but so too are local winds from the same direction. 

This week (Dec 23 - 26)

Today’s freshening NE winds are kicking up a small local swell that’ll occupy the region through Tuesday, probably around 2-3ft at NE facing beaches.

Unfortunately the swell direction will severely limit opportunities at south facing beaches, such as Bondi and Cronulla, and also the Northern Hunter (which is mainly sheltered from swells of this direction).

Freshening NE winds on Tuesday will also reduce the quality of the surf at those locations picking up the most size. We may see slightly less wind early morning but at this stage the pressure gradient is expected to be a little too strong to allow local land effects to kick in (i.e. provide a brief window of morning offshores). With an approaching high tide at 9:50am you’ll certainly have to aim for the dawn patrol for the best waves. 

Fresh NE winds are expected to persist all night Tuesday ahead of a southerly change that’s due into Sydney early-mid morning Wednesday (pre-dawn on the South Coast).

There is some disagreement around the timing of the change, but the main points for Wednesday are that a decrease in NE swell is likely throughout the day, and once the change hits, we’ll be confined to the southern corners for the best waves. Early morning may have a period of light variable winds just ahead of the change, and this will certainly be the best time to surf.

Set waves may still be holding in the 2-3ft range at exposed NE facing beaches at dawn, but expect smaller surf by mid-late morning (and even smaller into the afternoon). At this stage the southerly change is expected to be shallow, and probably won’t have enough strength to whip up much more than a weak 1-2ft at south facing beaches mid-late afternoon at best.

Also worth keeping in mind during this period - if you’re on the South Coast, surf size from the north-east may be a little bigger due to the slightly longer fetch length. 

On Thursday - Christmas Day - north-east winds are expected to redevelop off the coast as another trough forms across the Far South Coast. This should kick up a small NE windswell for late in the day and (more likely) early Friday, but it’ll probably be a little smaller than the Tues/Wed swell. Not worth getting overly excited about but there’ll be a few little waves around in the afternoon for frothing man-grommets or beginners. Expect small residual energy for the early surf.

A more vigorous southerly change is then expected through Friday - probably in the afternoon - and if we’re lucky we’ll see a late increase in local windswell. However Friday morning currently looks to offer the best waves of the Xmas/Boxing Day period, with residual NE windswell padding out open beaches with a couple of feet of peaky action.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the second half of this week will see a steady undercurrent of long range trade swell, generated by a broad easterly fetch currently active north and north-east of New Zealand. I’m not expecting much more than a couple of inconsistent feet of surf at exposed beaches from Thursday morning onwards (not sure on the precise time of arrival, due to the distant source), but this should certainly assist in keeping most regions from going flat in between the locally generated pulses. 

This weekend (Dec 27 - 28)

Not a lot to look forward to at this stage.

Saturday morning is likely to see leftover south swell form Friday’s change, perhaps 2-3ft early morning but with an easing trend during the day. Light SW winds early tending SE and freshening a little during the day as a ridge forms along the North Coast.

This swell will be mostly gone by Sunday so it looks like we’ll be relying on residual tradeswell from the distant system in the South Pacific, along with a similar pattern of winds - early light, freshening onshores later. Hardly epic but surfable if you’re keen. 

Long term (Dec 29 onwards)

There’s nothing significant on the long term radar at this stage. As always, the models are suggesting more of these short lived trough features off the South Coast through next week (i.e. brief NE windswell followed by a shallow S’ly change and associated pulse in short range energy). This will generate surf but nothing worth a road trip.

Otherwise, the main contributor to the Southern NSW surf zone next week will probably be that stationary belt of trades in the South Pacific. We won’t see much size but hopefully there’ll be enough oomph in the swell to keep the open beaches fun and peaky.

In fact some models are suggesting the trades could kick up a notch or two over the weekend, which may push our surf prospects a little higher (perhaps into the overhead range if we're really lucky) through the middle to latter part of next week - but I’ll speculate on that in more detail on Wednesday.


blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 at 9:59pm

Check the Sydney buoy.......we have a 15m straight west swell......plus secondary pulses from all over the map......or it has been hit by lightning!