Plenty of surf for the weekend and next week

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 13th February)

Best Days: Entire period: plenty of E/NE swell - biggest Sat/Sun then Thurs/Fri. Just gotta work around the nor'easters.

Recap: Slowly building E/NE swell through Thursday and Friday, mainly in the 2-3ft range though with a few bigger sets showing at exposed spots today. A sneaky south swell has also filtered in this afternoon from a weak front that pushed through the southern Tasman Sea on Thursday. Wednesday’s model data honestly didn’t have anything remotely of interest (especially given the dominant E/NE swell in the water) and our wave model has only ‘upgraded’ today’s outlook to just 0.7m @ 7 seconds (due south) for 6pm this evening (up from 0.4m @ 6.9 seconds at noon) - ordinarily just a foot or so at south facing beaches. But, Bondi is showing good lines in the 3ft range this afternoon. A quick hindmost of the model data still doesn’t show anything of interest yesterday but the ASCAT readings came back with stronger-than-modelled core winds around the primary low, which is the most likely source. So, there’s one that slipped nicely under the radar - doesn’t happen very often!

This weekend (Feb 14 - 15)

Looking like a busy weekend of waves. We’ve got a couple of swells expected across most southern NSW beaches, being a mix of long range E/NE swell that’s due to level out over the weekend with 3-4ft sets. Exposed swell magnets may see a handful of bigger waves. 

Freshening NE winds across the NSW coast will also generate a short range NE windswell of a slightly smaller size, but it’ll fill in the gaps nicely between the less consistent trade swell (mentioned above). In fact it’s the merging of these two swell trains that’ll most likely contribute to the occasional bomb sets. 

Computer model data also maintains the same level of south swell through Saturday as what it had today, although I’m suspicious of this - firstly, the model’s inability to pick up this swell properly means confidence is certainly low from this source, and secondly, the swell source was only in the water for a short time so it’s unlikely to have generated enough energy for a two-day swell event. So, the most likely scenario here is a small undercurrent of south swell, around a couple of feet absolute tops. The E/NE and building NE swell trains will be far more attractive anyway.

As for local winds, freshening nor’easter will certainly take the shine off things at exposed beaches but we will see periods of lighter northerly winds early morning. So, aim for an early paddle for the best conditions but otherwise expect typical fun bumpy summer east swell with a bit of wind on top.

Next week (Feb 16 onwards)

The trades have been very active over the last week or so, generating strong east swell for much of the East Coast with the biggest waves found up in far Northern NSW. 

An intensification within the back half of this fetch - just NE of New Zealand - over the last few days is generating a strong new pulse of swell that’s due to arrive early Monday morning. However it’s hard to have confidence on the size in southern NSW because most of the energy was generated just inside the swell shadow of New Zealand as the trough dipped south. 

Model data is showing a swell front with peak swell periods in there 10-11 second range arriving later Sunday, and peaking through Monday - had this better aligned in our swell window, it’d be easy to expect 3-4ft waves. But I doubt we’ll see much more than a stray 2ft+ sets form this source. 

Also in the mix on Monday will be residual trade swell from the weekend (2-3ft sets, easing) plus a minor SE swell from a weak fetch developing off the SW tip of New Zealand’s South Island today (say, inconsistent 1-2ft waves). Monday’s winds will be similar to the weekend, perhaps a little weaker - early light and variable tending moderate to fresh NE during the day. 

Surf size is then expected to slowly ease through Tuesday and Wednesday as these sources fade however there should be enough energy for small E/NE waves at open beaches in the 2ft range. A troughy pattern will maintain light tending NE winds for the most part (although a weak front approaching from the south on Monday may cause a brief SE trend through Tuesday morning, probably just on the South Coast though). 

Otherwise, the trades will continue to remain a focus through the longer term period, with an intensification expected S/SE of New Caledonia early next week. It won’t be perfectly aimed in our general direction but we should see a good pulse of E/NE swell arriving early Thursday, building to an afternoon peak in the 3-4ft+ range through across most beaches (smaller at south facing beaches). This swell should hold through Friday morning before easing into the afternoon.

As for our southern swell window - there is nothing major on the cards for next week at this stage.

Have a great weekend! See you Monday. 


mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free Sunday, 15 Feb 2015 at 10:00pm

Huey gave it a fair crack over the weekend. Northern beaches were pretty tasty. I'd say summer is over achieving so far in my opinion. Cranking east coast vicco WA SA and qld std trade waves.