Great waves Thursday; small funky S and SE swells beyond
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 26th August)
Best Days: Thurs: excellent combo of easing E/SE and new S'ly groundswell, with offshore winds. Fri: smaller but clean early. Sat: Initially punchy but easing S'ly swell with offshore winds. Mon/Tues/Wed: should be a combo of SE and S'ly swells in the water.
Recap: Considering the tricky nature of the ECL, I'm reasonably pleased with the overall outcome of the last few days. Wave heights remained static for most of Tuesday, before surging overnight and then slowly easing throughout today. Tuesday's winds were excellent, whilst a shallow S'ly tending SE breeze bumped up the Sydney and Illawarra region this morning, before winds returned to the SW this afternoon.
This week (Aug 27 - 28)
We've got some great waves expected on Thursday. Today's E/SE swell will continue to ease in size (3-4ft early, smaller later), and it'll mix in with a long period southerly swell pushing up the coast that should offer 4ft sets at south facing beaches. Locations south of Sydney should see more size from the E/SE as the fetch is aimed in better there, set waves could still be somwehere between 4ft and maybe 6ft early morning.
Crucially, winds will veer westerly as the ECL dissipates in the central Tasman Sea. So, all open beaches should be nice and clean, and locations open to the south should see some rather solid peaks at times as the two swell trains interact.
On Friday, the general trend will be downwards as both the E/SE and S'ly swells ease back in size (~2ft+ or so open beaches, mainly south facing). Conditions should be good early with freshening W'ly tending W/SW winds however a new low is expected to form off the Far South Coast in the early hours of the morning, and it'll push along the Southern NSW coast during the day, bringing a gusty S/SW wind change to the South Coast mid-late morning, Illawarra around lunchtime and the Sydney region early afternoon (Hunter coast mid-late afternoon).
This should kick up a very late increase in short range S'ly windswell at south facing beaches (maybe some 3-4ft sets right on dark if we're lucky) but these locations will be bumpy under the accompanying winds and it'll be much smaller elsewhere. So, aim for smaller cleaner waves early in the morning.
This weekend (Aug 29 - 30)
The weekend's forecast remains very tricky. Friday's late south swell is expected to be a short lived event and will peak overnight. I don't think we'll see a great deal of size early Saturday morning but a few stray 3ft+ sets at dawn are possible at south facing beaches (bigger in the Hunter, smaller elsewhere). However by mid-morning it'll be easing and the downwards trend will continue throughout the day, with very small surf expected late afternoon.
A new low pressure system developing well south of the Tasman Sea (technically the Southern Ocean) on Friday looks like being a tricky bugger to forecast for too. An initial S/SE fetch is now modelled to retrograde NW back up into the Tasmanian region, but it may briefly push up inside our acute south swell window. It's a very unusual pattern, and this exaggerates the difficulty in estimating surf size because I can't recall seeing a fetch track in this direction, in this region before. So there's no precedence to work against.
Additionally, the models have been moving around a lot with this synoptic setup in recent runs (shunting the fetch inside, and then outside of the swell window). It's quite likely that they'll continue to move around for the next few days so let's leave the outlook for Sunday until things firm up, hopefully by Friday.
However, aside from this south swell as a possible source for Sunday, there are no other weather systems lining up to deliver swell for the second half of the weekend. So aim to make the most of Saturday's swell in case Sunday's disappears from the charts.
Next week (Aug 31 onwards)
The complex low well south of the Tasman Sea from Friday onwards is a tricky beast to get my head around right now. With the models changing with each and every model run we really need a few more days to get a grip on next week's surf potential.
But as a baseline, we're still on target for a day or two of decent S/SE thru' SE groundswell around Monday and Tuesday (easing Wednesday), and the models are also suggesting another small closed low may form off the Far South Coast early in the week - possibly a source of fresh southerly swell too. Aside from this our other swell windows are relatively inactive.
See you Friday!