Not much surf for the next week or so

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 20th July)

Best Days: Tues AM: make the most of the easing south swell as it's the only decent day in the forecast period.

Recap: There’s been a lot of south swell over the last few days, although Saturday was affected by southerly winds across some regions. Sunday provided much better conditions with lighter winds, and we’ve seen mainly offshores today ahead of a light afternoon southerly flow. As for size, Saturday was certainly quite sizeable in the 6ft+ range across most open south facing beaches, with bigger surf in the Hunter. Wave heights eased a little into Sunday (4-6ft) and further to 3-5ft this morning, with slightly smaller waves on offer this afternoon.

This week (July 21 - 24)

After a couple of weeks of dynamic activity, we’ve got a somewhat benign outlook period ahead.

Today’s southerly groundswell will continue to ease through Tuesday, but conditions will be clean with light variable winds early. South facing beaches may see a few lingering 2ft to nearly 3ft sets (a little bigger in the Hunter) but expect long breaks between waves, and smaller surf from mid morning onwards. 

A large Tasman high pressure system will direct northerly winds across the region from Tuesday for a few days, however for the most part they probably won’t influence the coastal margin to any great degree. We’ll probably see a freshening trend from the NE from about mid-afternoon onwards on Tuesday, but up until then it’s looking reasonably favourable. 

Wednesday looks a little lacklustre in the surf department. A small but very long period south swell generated by an intense polar low off the ice shelf over the weekend is expected to make landfall, but despite likely swell periods in the 18 second range, we probably won’t see much size at the coast due to the primary fetch being poorly aligned within our swell window. The leading edge of this swell is actually due in on Tuesday afternoon, but I think Wednesday is where we’ll see most of the surfable energy (if there’s much to see at all). Very infrequent 1-2ft sets are possible at south facing beaches (maybe a little bigger in the Hunter) and these spots will offer the best conditions with freshening northerly winds. However, I have to emphasise the inconsistency: if we do see any surf from this source, the waits between sets will be considerable.

In fact, these freshening northerlies may also generate a small NE windswell for the region throughout Wednesday. Model guidance isn’t especially supportive of any major strength in the airstream - so confidence is low from this source - but a stray foot or two at NE swell magnets can’t be ruled out during the day (probably into the afternoon). Keep your expectations low though, as local winds won’t be favourable for these spots anyway.

A weak front will then push off the South Coast on Thursday, disrupting the northerly flow and causing wave heights to ease from this source (that is, if we see anything at all). Otherwise, we may see a small secondary E/NE swell fill in on Thursday, originating from a broad ridge across the northern half of the Tasman Sea (the top of the high pressure system) but again, I don’t think will be worth much more than a weak foot or two. Winds will swing to the SW or S behind the front but it won’t have any strength. 

And then to finish the week, there’s no major swells on the cards - just a possible continuation of small, lacklustre energy from the E/NE. Exposed swell magnets may pick up a few lazy 1-2ft waves and winds will be light and variable, just don’t expect anything worthwhile. 

This weekend (July 25 - 26)

Our swell windows look devoid of activity to finish the week, so it looks like there’s not going to be much action across the coast this weekend.

The moderate easterly flow through the northern half of the Tasman Sea through the middle to latter part of this week may keep exposed beaches from becoming flat - so, swell magnets may see small, inconsistent surf between 1ft and possibly 2ft if we’re lucky - but that’s about it. 

Could be a good time to consider some non-surf activities.

Next week (July 27 - 28)

A series of strong fronts and deep low pressure systems are expected push through our south swell window from Sunday, which should set up a sustained period of strong southerly swell from about Monday onwards. More on this in Wednesday’s notes.