Fun small surf most days

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 25th February)

Best Days: Thurs: fun waves early morning before the SE swell eases. Fri: new E/NE swell due in from about lunchtime, with generally light winds. Sat: get in early for the best conditions under an easing E/NE swell. Sun: fun NE windswell with a window of good winds around midday.

Recap: Really good easing E/NE swell early Tues with light winds ahead of a fresh S’ly change mid-late morning (earlier than expected). Good waves this morning with a combo of leftover E/NE swell and building SE swell that’s now providing bumpy 3ft+ waves at south facing beaches (smaller elsewhere). Early light winds are now fresh S’ly. 

This week (Feb 24 - 27)  

The source of today’s SE swell has remained anchored in position a little better than Monday’s models were suggesting, so we should see some fun waves persist through into Thursday morning. However the tail end of this long-lived E/NE swell will be much smaller by this time. 

Wave heights should manage an inconsistent 1-2ft at most open stretches, with occasional bigger sets at south facing beaches (between 2ft and maybe 3ft). Expect wave heights to ease a little more during the day. Conditions should be pretty good with light offshore winds in the morning and a light to moderate afternoon nor’easter.

On Friday we’re looking to see the arrival of a small long range E/NE groundswell, generated by an impressive trough that developed well NE of New Zealand over the weekend. As I mentioned on Monday, core wind strengths were quite impressive however the system wasn’t positioned perfectly within our swell window and it’s slowly snuck inside the swell shadow of New Zealand in recent days, which will impact potential wave heights on the coast.

Without any buoy data to the far east of us (to monitor swell activity), it’s always difficult to have confidence on the arrival times of incoming long range energy from the eastern quadrant. However based on model data, the early session is likely to be a little undersized ahead of a building trend through mid-late morning and peak in to the afternoon. Keeping in mind the considerable inconsistency of this swell - there'll be little alternative short range energy to fill in the gaps - open beaches should pick up 2-3ft sets through the afternoon (smaller at south facing beaches).

As for conditions - Friday’s looking pretty good with light variable winds and afternoon sea breezes from the NE. They shouldn’t have too much strength so there should be fun options from about lunchtime onwards.

This weekend (Feb 28 - Mar 1)

Major points for the weekend are as follows:

  • Friday’s long range E/NE swell will peak in the early hours of Saturday morning before slowly easing across the weekend
  • A local NE fetch will provide short range windswell through Saturday afternoon and into Sunday.
  • A late southerly change on Sunday will disrupt these nor’easters a few hours prior to its arrival, and provide a window of good winds to capitalise on the short range NE energy.

Saturday morning - at this stage - should see some fun waves with a brief period of lighter N’ly winds ahead of a freshening NE’er from mid-morning. The E/NE swell should maintain 2-3ft sets but it’ll become smaller into the afternoon. Expect small waves at south facing beaches, and in the northern Hunter.

At this stage Sunday could see a similar size of short range NE windswell (2-3ft NE facing beaches) however we’ll have to work around the timing of the S’ly change. Late morning through mid-afternoon is looking like offering a window of offshore winds ahead of the late southerly, but I’ll fine tune those details in Friday’s notes. Again, expect small waves at south facing beaches, and in the northern Hunter (if the southerly change arrives early then we may see a late, rapid increase in choppy windswell at south facing beaches though).

Next week (Mar 2 onwards)

Sunday’s late change should maintain small to moderate southerly swells through Monday but at this stage no great size is expected. Conditions could be dicey with a lingering southerly flow too.

Unfortunately, the broadening trade flow north of New Zealand discussed on Monday has been weakened a little in the latest model guidance. There’s still plenty of activity towards the second half of the long range model runs, but often under these circumstances it’s common for the models to incorrectly pick up the genesis of these broadscale patterns, and will sometimes continually push back the associated swells by a day or so, every day (creating the feeling that the forecast is always delayed).

It certainly feels like this is the case right now however we’ll have a better understanding of this in Friday’s notes. However the swell source hasn’t evaporated completely - some models (i.e. the European solution) show a lot of promise - but I’ll feel more confident once they all come into line a little more. 

Otherwise, with the models diverging beyond the weekend it’s too early have confidence in a couple of scenarios on the cards (such as the strong south swell mid-late next week, from a strong frontal progression through the southern Tasman Sea). I’ll have more on this in Friday’s update.


zdawg1's picture
zdawg1's picture
zdawg1 Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 at 1:12pm

Ben, appreciate the detailed forecasts (as always). Any ideas on the far south coast of NSW for the next week? Going on a surf trip and my untrained eye is telling me the outlook is fairly grim. Thanks in advance!

kerry1's picture
kerry1's picture
kerry1 Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 at 7:18pm

Hi Zdawg1, I surf down the south coast all the time. Especially around Sussex Inlet. A south swell window might come through early next thursday morning with S winds if they are offshore early good but from this day on to Friday into the next weekend might have some decent swell. As for early week waves could be from 1ft to 3ft?? If there are NE winds, Here is a secret. Cudmirrah Beach is direct offshore in a NE so it would be protected from these winds. It has a left hand reef break which can be fickle but some great sandbacks that throw great lefts and rights. It can work on a NE to E swell great but anything from the Sth is perfection with W round to NE winds off shore. also there are lots of breaks around the Sussex Bendalong Area if you know where to look all within 30 mins drive. then you have Manyana and Ulladulla down the road an hour away. Hope this has helped shed some light for you. Kerry.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 at 7:23pm

Wow Kerry,sometimes its best to keep things to yourself,loose lips sink surf spots.........

jimbrown's picture
jimbrown's picture
jimbrown Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 at 9:30pm

I can't work out if you're a child in an adults body, or an adult in a child's body

kerry1's picture
kerry1's picture
kerry1 Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 at 7:09pm

I only surf during the week but as the winds and swell have not been great THIS SUNDAY MORNING early to maybe around 11am might be the go with off shore winds Ben. thanks have a good one.