A craptacular Christmas!
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 24th December)
Best Days: Saturday: fun south swell, shame winds are looking a little dodgy.
Recap: Peaky but very weak NE windswell over the last two days. NE winds created bumpy conditions on Tuesday, and the early high tide swallowed up a lot of the size but 2-3ft sets were present at NE facing beaches through the afternoon. Wave heights eased a smidge overnight (and are slowly dropping) and early light winds this morning gave way to a fresh mid-morning southerly change. South facing beaches are now picking up a small, low quality windswell in the wake of the change.
This week (Dec 25 - 26)
So Christmas Day, eh? Unfortunately it’s not looking too flash. NE winds will redevelop across the coast during the morning, and we're looking at a very small combination of weak swells from the E/NE and NE, with possible a hint of leftover south swell from today (but not much).
Most beaches will struggle to pull in 1-2ft surf through the morning, but marginally bigger waves are possible late in the day as the nor’easter freshens - however there won’t be much quality in it thanks to the unfavourable airstream. So it’s not really worth getting too excited about your Christmas surf prospects.
Friday has a vigorous southerly change due in the afternoon, with light variable winds ahead of it. Thursday’s freshening NE winds should whip up a small peaky NE swell, and there’ll be a tiny undercurrent of E/NE trade swell too - perhaps the combined energy providing 1-2ft sets at NE facing beaches. The southerly change will increase wave heights but probably not until the evening, so don’t get your hopes up for anything sizeable. Best options will be early morning whilst winds are favourably light; moderate southerlies are then expected to kick in mid-late morning, ahead of a strong blow mid-late afternoon.
This weekend (Dec 27 - 28)
The latest models have slightly strengthened and broadened the fetch trailing Friday’s change, so the surf outlook for Saturday morning has been given a nudge upwards.
South facing beaches should see early 3ft+ sets (bigger in the Hunter) but it’ll be smaller at remaining beaches (1-2ft), consisting mainly of intermittent long range E/NE trade swell. Expect the south swell to ease very slowly throughout the day.
Winds are unfortunately not looking great for the Sydney and Hunter regions on Saturday, thanks to a ridge which is expected to anchor itself across the North Coast. This is expected to drive moderate to fresh SE winds across the Hunter region; they’ll be a little lighter in the Sydney region but I’m concerned that overnight onshores (on Friday) won’t have any way of cleaning up due to the persistent south-east airstream. Hopefully Friday’s update will have a little more clarity on the wind outlook, as it’ll be a real shame if this south swell is spoiled.
Fortunately, a weaker pressure gradient from Wollongong to the Far South Coast will create mainly light variable winds in this region, and consequently some reasonably good surfing conditions.
Sunday will then see very little leftover south swell but a small mix of long range E/NE trade swell, and possibly some small short range E/NE swell from the North Coast ridge (say, peaky inconsistent 1-2ft sets at exposed beaches) with mainly light winds.
Right now, model guidance doesn’t support much swell from the short range source, however it’s worth noting that successive model runs over the last few days have pushed the coastal ridge further south (i.e. closer to our swell window) - so there’s a chance for an upgrade in Friday’s notes. Watch this space.
Next week (Dec 29 onwards)
Still nothing significant on the long term radar, unless we see the weekend’s coastal ridge evolve into a more prominent system over the coming days - which is certainly possible. I’ll update on Friday (this would affect the swell potential for Monday, which is currently very small).
Otherwise, we’re looking at a steady supply of small, intermittent E/NE swell from our distant South Pacific source. Also, a strong frontal passage is expected through the southern Tasman Sea around Tuesday, which should give rise to a solid mid-week south swell. In fact this looks like being a reasonably strong Long Wave Trough passage, which should assist in drawing out the length of swell activity from this source (i.e. instead of a one day swell, perhaps two or more days if we’re lucky).
Have a Merry Christmas - see you on Friday!