Reasonable weekend waves ahead

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 26th December)

Best Days: Sat: fun south swell, shame winds are looking a little dodgy in some areas (ie Hunter). Mon/Tues: fun small E/NE swell with early light offshore winds. Wed: fun south swell with early offshores. 

Recap: Small junky waves Christmas Day, with early light winds freshening from the NE in the afternoon. A small fun combo of NE and E’ly swell this morning (sets to 2ft at open beaches) with light offshore winds ahead of a southerly change advancing along the coast, just pushing into southern Sydney now ahead of a stronger change expected this afternoon. A late increase in short range S’ly windswell is likely at south facing beaches although it’ll be bumpy at those beaches picking up any size.

This weekend (Dec 27 - 28)

No major changes to the weekend forecast. Today’s southerly change will whip up a short range south swell that’s due to peak overnight before trending downwards through Saturday

Early morning should still see some 3ft sets at south facing beaches (bigger in the Hunter, near 3-4ft), but remaining beaches will be smaller due to the dominant southerly swell direction. However, there’ll also be the same intermittent E/NE swell in the water as per today, with occasional 1-2ft sets at open beaches. The south swell will ease slowly throughout the day; the E/NE swell should hold steady.

Conditions look OK, but not great: a ridge developing across the North Coast will probably influence the Hunter with moderate to fresh SE winds, but they’ll be lighter south of the Central Coast, and variable south of the Coal Coast (i.e. early light offshores, afternoon onshores). 

As such, I’m not convinced that surface conditions will be very good in the Hunter, but I have slightly increased my confidence for a period of light SW winds early morning across Sydney beaches - it’s only a 50/50 chance but I think it might happen at a few spots (probably just the Northern Beaches). Nevertheless there’s still likely to be a few lumps on top from overnight onshores, so keep your expectations low - get in early for the best waves.

As for Sunday, the surf’s expected to consist of a mix of easing leftover south swell, residual E/NE trade swell (that we’ve seen for the last few days) plus some small short range east swell spreading back down our way from the North Coast ridge.

Overall, I don’t think there’ll be much more than a couple of feet of peaky waves at exposed beaches, but conditions should be reasonably clean early morning with light variable winds tending E’ly and freshening throughout the day. Again, the early bird will get the worm.

Next week (Dec 29 onwards)

The latest model guidance hasn’t done much with the North Coast ridge in the last few days, so I’m removing it from the list of possible swell sources for early next week.

As such, Monday looks to see a couple of feet of inconsistent E/NE swell from the stationary trade belt north and north-east of New Zealand (which, out of interest, has been in place since last weekend). Aim for an early surf while winds are light; however there’s a chance for some funky winds and weather as a trough develops along the Southern NSW coast again.

Tuesday has a gusty southerly change on the cards - currently pegged for lunchtime. Prior to this, winds will be light offshore and we’ll see continuing E/NE swell plus some local NE windswell in the water, so the open beaches should have a few fun options for the dawn patrol. The afternoon currently looks windy with gusty southerlies and a building short range S’ly swell that could reach 3ft at south facing beaches by the end of the day (although quality will be low).

Tuesday’s southerly change will be associated with a broader LWT passage, which means we'll see a couple of frontal systems track through our immediate south swell window, resulting in a couple of days of waves rather than a single afternoon pulse (as is often the case).

Therefore, we’re expecting plenty of south swell through Wednesday (and maybe even early Thursday), in the 3ft range at south facing beaches, with smaller E/NE trade swell padding out remaining beaches. Winds will be from the southern quadrant during this time but we should see early W/SW winds across most locations.

Elsewhere, there’s nothing significant lining up on the long term charts apart from the bog-standard southern NSW coastal trough and the associated short range swells that accompany these systems. Hopefully next week will shed some light on the possibilities of a decent New Year swell!


kerry1's picture
kerry1's picture
kerry1 Sunday, 28 Dec 2014 at 1:20pm

Typical Summer. I swim more laps of a pool this time of year than I do in winter, Autumn and Spring put together.