Strong weekend of south swell, easing next week
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 7th August)
Best Days: Sat/Sun: building S'ly swell Sat, easing Sun with dicey winds Sat but great conditions Sun. Smaller Mon but clean.
Recap: A new south swell built throughout Southern NSW but ultimately came a little under expectations late Thursday and early this morning (set waves in the 4ft range, against a forecast of 4-5ft). However, with conditions as expected - early westerlies, tending southerly during the afternoons - the mornings have provided excellent options at locations that enjoy southerly swells.
This weekend (August 8 - 9)
The last round of southerly swell from this pattern is starting to nose through the Southern Tasman Sea and we’re looking at some great waves for the weekend.
However, Sunday is still on track to be the pick of the weekend, as Saturday will experience some wind-related issues. A high pressure ridge moving in from the west will maintain a synoptic S/SW airstream that’ll veer southerly during the day. Winds should be westerly for a few hours at dawn across many locations - but possibly not all (i.e. Hunter) - so this will be the best time to surf on Saturday.
Unfortunately, surf size will be at a low point early morning, as we’ll be between swells - new energy is expected to show mid-late morning (earlier south of Sydney) and will build towards a peak in the afternoon with south facing beaches seeing 4ft to almost 6ft sets at times in the few hours before dark. And, the Hunter should see a few bigger bombs. However beaches not open to the south will be much smaller, owing to the swell direction. But for the dawn patrol, wave heights may be almost half of what’s expected in the afternoon.
Sunday looks really good, as the high will have moved further east into the Tasman Sea, creating light variable winds across Southern NSW. Although we’ll be on the backside of this swell event, south facing beaches should still see solid 4-5ft sets early morning (again, bigger in the Hunter) ahead of a steady drop in size all day.
As per the norm with southerly swells, expect much smaller waves away from south facing beaches. Also, keep in mind that ‘light variable winds’ means that they could come from any direction (including onshore) although it’s likely that the morning and lunch period will be offshore at least.
Next week (August 10 onwards)
Monday should offer good waves early morning with offshore winds and a continuation of easing S’ly swell across the region. South facing beaches should see a few 3ft sets at dawn (bigger in the Hunter, smaller elsewhere) but it’ll become smaller by mid morning and then furthermore info the afternoon.
The storm track is expected to remain aligned well and truly away from our swell window from Sunday through the middle of the week, so Tuesday are Wednesday looking at tiny conditions with fresh offshore winds.
A strong series of fronts across the eastern states are expected to initially ride quite north in latitude; it’s not until the associated Long Wave Trough starts to push into Tasmanian longitudes mid-week (with yet another possible cold outbreak for the region, delivering snow a considerable distance north of the Alps) that we’ll start to see south-west gales develop off the Southern NSW coast, sometime around Thursday.
Even then, they’ll be poorly aligned for our coast and we’ll only see highly refracted south swell at the magnets, and not much elsewhere - maybe some 3-4ft sets late afternoon (after starting from a tiny base early morning) - but with gusty SW winds on hand too. Certainly not worth working around.
A strong polar front rounding the Tasmanian corner on Thursday (associated with the same broad pattern) will then push into the lower Tasman Sea and should provide a little more juice for Friday morning, perhaps 3-5ft south facing beaches with bigger waves in the Hunter - but let’s take a closer look on Monday with the availability of updated data.
We may also see some tiny distant E'ly lines in the mix during the second half of the week, originating from an impressive storm located way out in the South Pacific on the edge of our swell window (S/SE of Tahitian longitudes, and also within the partial swell shadow of New Zealand). Any surf we see is likely to be extremely inconsistent, and extremely small - certainly hard to detected under the south swell. But it's worthy of a reference point anyway, as we may very well see something appear on the MHL spectral charts.
Beyond the end of next week, it seems that the longer term will remain under the influence of a broad Long Wave Trough pattern, with a series of deep Southern Ocean lows expected to generate a solid, long period southerly groundswell later next weekend or early in the following week. More on this in Monday’s update.