Intermittent energy from the south
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 31st December)
Best Days: Entire period: small fun south swell at northern corners (due to predominant NE winds). Expecting a few bigger sets late Thurs/early Fri, and again late Sat/early Sun. Tues onwards: fun trade swell holding for an extended period of time.
Recap: Small E/NE swell Tues with mainly light winds. This swell has persisted into today but a new S’ly swell is pushing into southern NSW and 3-4ft sets have been observed at some south facing beaches (see Bondi screen grab from 9am this morning below). It didn’t appear to be in the water at first light but is certainly muscling up nicely now, but unfortunately winds are onshore across the coast so conditions aren’t great.
This week (Jan 1 - 2)
*forecast notes will be brief this week*
We’ve got some more south swell due over the coming days, generated by the parent low to the front that whipped up today’s pulse. This parent low is located much further south (to the S/SE of Tasmania), but there’s an impressive SW fetch on its northwest flank and I reckon we’ll see intermittent activity from the south through Thursday and Friday somewhere in the 2ft range at south facing beaches.
We may also see some bigger waves associated with a brief pulse of longer period energy (originating from the low itself) either very late Thursday or early Friday with 3ft sets (up to 4ft in the Hunter).
Also in the water both days will be a small combo of distant E/NE swell and some local NE windswell, but probably no more than 1-2ft at remaining open beaches.
Winds will remain from the NE both days - probably light and variable early mornings for an hour or two - so aim for a surf then as conditions will be at their best.
This weekend (Jan 3-4)
The latest model guidance has pulled back the strength and scope of the local NE winds in our immediate swell window, so I’ve pegged back wave heights as a result.
Most of the weekend will see a peaky mix of swell from three sources - some intermittent long range E/NE swell, residual S’ly energy and local NE windswell, with wave heights up to 2ft at most open beaches.
The only notable source of new swell is a slow moving polar low (actually, a reincarnation of the same low responsible for the Thurs/Fri pulse of south swell).
It’s expected to remain broadly stationary along Tasmanian longitudes over the coming days, merging with a series of eastward travelling cold fronts. The conglomeration of these systems should create a reasonable - although not amazing - W/SW fetch at low latitudes (between 60S - 45S), which should kick up a bigger long period south swell, arriving sometime late Saturday or Sunday, with sets in the 3ft range at south facing beaches, and 4ft in the Hunter. However there will be very long breaks between waves.
With NE winds expected for much of the weekend, you’ll have to tuck into a sheltered northern corner for the biggest and best waves.
Next week (Jan 5 onwards)
The weekend’s south swell should linger into Monday morning but otherwise trend downwards for the remainder of next week.
In Monday’s notes I mentioned a troughy feature that could push off the coast and develop into a low early next week. The models have cooled on this scenario for now - not written it off completely, but simply pushed it back in the timeline - so let’s wait to see how future updates pan out.
However the Coral Sea trades are looking more and more likely of being a quality source of swell for the Southern Qld/Northern NSW coast next week, and confidence is growing that we’ll see this pattern anchor in place for a lengthy period of time right across the Northern Tasman Sea and out into the South West Pacific.
This should ensure we see a steady supply of small but useful E/NE trade swell through next week (probably starting around Tuesday or maybe Wednesday) in the 2-3ft range at open beaches.
Have a great New Year - see you all on Friday!