Intermittent energy from the south

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

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!


kerry1's picture
kerry1's picture
kerry1 Wednesday, 31 Dec 2014 at 7:21pm

the only thing I like about summer is if a Cyclone comes down the coast far enough to blow the whole East coast firing on all 8 Cylinders excuse the pun. Lets hope the weather patterns give us 8 to 10 ft cyclone swell and perfect in the New Year from Jan to March. I'm asking to win the Lottery I think after the last couple of years Cyclone happenings. If it does happen I finally can get my 7'8" and 8' Outer Island Guns out of the spare room. I wont even look at anything under 4ft, even though I force myself in the water nearly every 2nd day if it is shit just to keep the cylinders tuned.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Wednesday, 31 Dec 2014 at 7:41pm

Would that be the same Outer Island guns shaped by Mitchell Rae?

kerry1's picture
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kerry1 Thursday, 1 Jan 2015 at 5:52pm

Absolutely!! That's the God I am one of his Disciples. also Albe Falzon and George Greenough are two men I highly respect. With a name Zenagain you must know Mitchell?!!

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kerry1 Thursday, 1 Jan 2015 at 5:55pm

Its 6pm New Years Day and Newcastle is copping more swell. Even though my mate at Sussex Inlet said it was 3-4ft down there and cross offshore.

batfink's picture
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batfink Friday, 2 Jan 2015 at 7:10am

That screen grab of Bondi staggers me, there was nothing at all in the water in the early daylight hours of 31/12, it was barely breaking. The nice ene swell of 2' or so of the previous days had disappeared as well. As Ben remarks, it didn't appear in the water at first light.

Nothing surfable (over 1') in the water new year's day, and same again today, at least in the early hours. Newcastle copping more swell? Got to pick your moments obviously.

batfink's picture
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batfink Friday, 2 Jan 2015 at 7:16am

May have seen a 1.5' on the Bondi cams. Almost surfable, only a couple of people in the water at Bondi, that's a pretty good indication.

Looks like another day of working around the house, dammit.

Best wishes for new year's to the swellnet crew and anyone reading. Let's hope for something around the corner. Would kill for a few days of 4' plus with reasonable winds. :-)

Take care all.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Friday, 2 Jan 2015 at 7:33am

I surfed yesterday (Northern Beaches) mid-late morning, and there were 2ft to nearly 3ft sets on offer (mix of swells from the east and south). Been watching the Bondi surfcam this morning and there are plenty of 2ft sets on offer (from the south swell). Looks about the same on the Manly cam too (from the east swell). 

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Friday, 2 Jan 2015 at 7:36am

Here's a couple of quick surfcam snaps from Manly (current high tide is swallowing up the swell).

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batfink Friday, 2 Jan 2015 at 7:40am

Frustrated surfer here Ben. Been up at crack of dawn quite a bit lately and have been pleasantly surprised on a few days earlier in the week and found nothing when expecting at least a little in the last 3 days.

Looks so much cleaner at Manly than the Bondi conditions, like they were in different worlds.

Have a good one.

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batfink Friday, 2 Jan 2015 at 7:44am

Going to head out and check it. May be able to find something.