Solid S'ly swell Tuesday, easing Wednesday onwards
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 27th July)
Best Days: Tues/Wed: Solid S'ly swell with generally good winds. Thurs: small S'ly swell with NW winds. Sun: small S'ly swell with mainly light winds.
Recap: A small residual E/NE swell provided just-rideable conditions on Saturday morning before the swell continued to ease into the afternoon and further into Sunday. Small side-band energy from the south filled into south facing beaches this morning, with 1-2ft sets in Sydney and bigger waves across the Hunter. A larger southerly swell is expected to arrive overnight.
This week (July 28 - 31)
A deep low pressure system that tracked south of Tasmania on Sunday pushed into our acute southern swell window this morning, displaying core wind speeds in the 50kts range (see right). Unfortunately, the low is tracking east, not north-east, which is perpendicular to the great circle paths within our swell window and this factor will limit surf size across Southern NSW.
However, despite the low moving into the central/southern Tasman Sea, a strong secondary front pushing north-east from Tasmanian longitudes up into the central/northern Tasman Sea overnight and into early Tuesday will maintain south-west gales off the coast. Although they’re not very well aligned within our swell window, all of this activity will contribute strong southerly swell to the region on Tuesday.
The acute south swell direction will result in a large range in wave heights across the coast, anywhere from 4-6ft at south facing beaches down to 1-2ft inside sheltered southern corners (most open beaches across the Sydney and Illawarra coasts should manage 3ft sets). The Hunter is likely to pick up a few bigger waves above 6ft+ at times though.
Local winds will be the key on Tuesday. Fortunately, we’re likely to see moderate W/SW winds across many regions in the morning, maybe even W’ly around the Northern Beaches, but a southerly flow is probable into the afternoon - it’s hard to estimate a timing but early afternoon seems to be the most likely bet (possibly earlier in the Hunter, and on the South Coast).
From Wednesday onwards, the trend will be down until the weekend. Wednesday morning may see a few stray 3-4ft+ sets at south facing beaches (bigger in the Hunter, but much smaller elsewhere) but by mid-late morning it’s likely to be a little smaller with the easing trend maintaining itself through Thursday and Friday, which may only see 1ft+ waves at exposed beaches.
Local winds are looking very good overall throughout this period; light W’lies on Wednesday and possible sea breezes ahead of light nor’westers on Thursday becoming moderate to fresh on Friday.
So, make the most of the next few days because by the end of the week all rideable options will be restricted to the swell magnets.
This weekend (August 1 - 2)
A weak front is expected to push through the southern Tasman Sea on Friday, but the trailing fetch is not expected to be very strong nor very long.
Exposed south swell magnets are likely to see a few 2ft waves (a smidge bigger in the Hunter) early Saturday morning but at this stage the swell is expected to peak early morning and trend down for the rest of the day. Most beaches will probably be tiny to flat. Freshening W’ly winds should keep conditions clean though.
Another frontal system - this time attached to another deep, vigorous low pressure system south of Tasmania - is expected to then push through the southern Tasman Sea late Saturday, setting up an average short range southerly swell for Sunday.
The primary groundswell associated with this system probably won’t arrive until Monday, so current expectations for Sunday are for peaky S’ly energy in the 2-3ft range at south facing beaches, with bigger surf across the Hunter but much smaller conditions at locations without any direct southerly exposure. Winds may linger from the S/SW at a few spots early morning but in general light to moderate westerlies will probably dominate the coast.
Next week (August 3 onwards)
This next deep low tracking below Tasmania looks like a beauty. Current model guidance suggests a slow moving, multi-centered system with several core fetches displaying winds in excess of 50kts. What this suggests is a prolonged series of large, long period southerly swell for the entire south-eastern corner of the country (from SA to Vic, Tas and Southern NSW).
How much size we see in Southern NSW will depend on the fetch alignment, and just how far east it is positioned. Right now it’s fairly safe to say we’re probably looking at solid waves in the 5-6ft range (south facing beaches) for two or maybe three days (from Monday thru' Wednesday), however let’s fine tune the details over the rest of the week - there’s certainly room for an upgrade, especially at deepwater reefs and those coasts that funnel large southerly wavelengths particularly well.