Large swells building through Wed and Thurs, but dicey winds

Guy Dixon picture
Guy Dixon (Guy Dixon)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Guy Dixon (issued Monday 21st September)

Best Days: Early Tuesday, potential for 'best of a bad bunch' early on Wednesday and Thursday. Novelty surf check just to see size on Thursday.


Saturday kicked off with fun, peaky south swell in the 3ft range along the Sydney stretch, but soon deteriorated as breezes swung onshore from mid-morning. Sunday started off shaky with a fairly weak and inconsistent 2-3ft mixture of swells. As the morning wore on, conditions improved before winds swung onshore again in the mid-morning. The Hunter didn't fair as well and only offered bumpy conditions throughout the weekend. Fortunately this afternoon offered much cleaner conditions under light north/northeasterly breeze. The role reversal continued, with most Sydney beaches offering fat, weak 2ft sets this afternoon. Not overly inspiring.

This week (Tuesday 22nd - Friday 25th):

The synoptic set up for the coming week looks fairly similar to the last forecast issued by Ben on Friday afternoon. 

A southerly change will move up the coast of NSW on Tuesday in the wake of a strong frontal progression. As a result, the swell should build from around 2-3ft surf in the morning to a possible 3-4ft by the afternoon, with the Hunter seeing the most action. The swell-generating winds themselves don’t look to be anything ground breaking (30-35kts) however, the close proximity will limit swell dissipation. 

The morning session looks fairly promising for an early southwesterly breeze, freshening and tending south/southwesterly as the day wears on limiting options to protected southern ends through the afternoon.

A low anchored over the North Island of New Zealand will set up a blocking pattern late on Tuesday causing this strong front to develop into a near stationary Tasman Low on Wednesday. Central parts of the southern Tasman will become much more active with a south/southeasterly fetch becoming elongated with core winds of 35-40kts.

The surf will build rapidly throughout Wednesday, with south swell magnets pushing 6-8ft by the end of the day. Again, a fresh/strong southerly breeze will prevail throughout the day, however these set ups can often allow for an early south-westerly airflow, leading to a brief window of opportunity. Check early, otherwise tuck into protected southern corner and lower your expectations. Much of the Hunter will be virtually a write off with choppy and turbulent seas.

This elongated captured fetch over the Tasman will be working on an active sea-state by this stage, leading to a peak in large swell for Thursday morning. This swell event is looking properly big: much of the exposed coast will awaken to 10ft+ surf in the morning, which may even be on the conservative side for the Hunter. Locations not directly open to the south will however be smaller.

Mercifully, southerly breezes look to ease marginally on Thursday, however they'll remain moderate/fresh. Similarly to Wednesday, there is the possibility of an early southwesterly breeze which could mean a brief wave for the sure footed. There is likely to be a lot of surface scarring, chop and short range energy in the water, but who doesn’t love at least considering options on a 10ft day? It’s probably best off to gain protection at a southern corner later in the day and wipe off a bit of size making it a touch more manageable.

Coming off the back of this large swell, the surf is likely to still be in the 8ft+ range on Friday morning, easing throughout the day. The early session is the only window worth considering as gusty southerly breezes will tend south/southeasterly late making protection crucial.

This weekend (Saturday 26th - Sunday 27th):

The surf will then gradually fade throughout Saturday to the 5-6ft range and further on Sunday back to around 3-4ft. Winds will continue from the south, much lighter and more workable.

Next week (Monday 28th onward):

The swell window looks fairly dormant throughout the following week. Background energy will provide weak and inconsistent 1-2ft surf with generally light winds on Monday and Tuesday. Next front/trough due Wednesday.


nickg's picture
nickg's picture
nickg Monday, 21 Sep 2015 at 10:16pm

good week for the groms on school hols.

fingers crossed we get some offshores in the mornings.

i expect the late week swell will have a fairly decent period in between the chop.