Run of S'ly swell continues, hints of NE wind swell at times

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Guy Dixon (Guy Dixon)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Guy Dixon (issued Wednesday 7th October)

Best Days: Friday morning, Saturday morning and Sunday morning.


Off the back of Monday’s southerly pulse (which came in a touch larger than forecast) the surf eased back to a fun 2-3ft in the morning across south facing beaches of Sydney and the Illawarra. Light west/southwesterly breezes allowed for clean faces preceding a light north/northeasterly seabreeze which whipped up a few bumps.

Across the Hunter, there was a touch more size on offer, more in the 3ft+ range. Conditions were clean and easily rippable in the morning before a seabreeze kicked in.

A southerly change moved up the coast this morning leaving very little time for a decent wave. The early birds across the Hunter may have been able to sneak a dawn session under light northwesterly breezes and small 1-2ft surf, however surfers further south weren’t as lucky. A rubbishy, short range southerly swell has built throughout the day to the 3-4ft range (larger across the Hunter), but quality was negligible under fresh/strong southerly breezes.

This week (Wednesday 7th - Friday 9th):

An intense low pressure system associated with this morning's southerly change has been moving over southern/southeastern parts of the Tasman throughout today. High latitude (further south) southerly fetches on the southwestern quadrant of this system will provide long range energy to move up the NSW coast on Thursday.

The short range southerly wind swell that is currently in the water will provide peaks in the 3ft+ throughout the morning, dissipating during the day. However, a building southerly groundswell will also be filling in by that time, allowing south facing beaches will hold at a similar size by the afternoon, slightly larger across the Hunter. Beaches which lack that southern aspect will miss out on a lot of the energy, so it’s well worth a look at your local south swell magnet.

The swell windows look fairly quiet for the remainder of the week, with the exception of an increasing northerly airflow hugging the coast throughout late Thursday and into Friday. This small northerly fetch should sustain for around 24 hours with winds of around 15-25kts, strongest further south. It’s a pretty modest little fetch and may not be worth considering, but in combination with residual southerly energy, this mix of swells should provide peaky surf in the 2ft range across most beaches. We have our fingers cross for open beaches which have been deprived of surf due to regular southerly swells.

Moving on to the wind outlook, Thursday is likely to be dominated by an onshore flow right along the coast. Initially, light winds look to prevail from the east/southeast (slightly stronger across the Hunter), tending moderate northeasterly in the afternoon. The morning will definitely be the best bet for a clean wave as winds will be at their lightest, however the swell will only build throughout the afternoon.

Friday has a better chance of seeing a light northwesterly breeze, particularly across Sydney and the Illawarra so open beaches will be the pick early. Further north, winds look to be light northerly in the morning, gradually increasing and tending northeasterly throughout the day across all coasts. Protected northern corners will have good options into the afternoon. 

This weekend (Saturday 10th - Sunday 11th):

Southerly energy generated by a series of trailing fetches is expected to maintain surf in the 2ft range at south facing beaches throughout Saturday, possibly larger across the Hunter.

Yet another frontal progression is likely to move across the southern Tasman late on Thursday and throughout Friday providing a small southerly groundswell due to move up the coast on Sunday. Similarly to the swell events of the weekend and Monday, the core fetches are poorly aligned and we are forced to rely on side-band energy to gain any size. Taking the under estimation into consideration, I’d expect south facing beaches to be in the 2-3ft range in the morning, easg through the afternoon. As usual on southerly swells, slightly larger across the Hunter.

Saturday has a window of opportunity in the morning as light winds prevail from the north/northwest, mostly for Sydney and the Illawarra. Breezes should then soon swing northerly and eventually around to the northeast while increasing, limiting options.

Similarly, Sunday has a good chance of light offshore breezes in the morning before a northeasterly seabreeze increases in the afternoon.

Next week (Monday 12th onward):

The longer term outlook is likely to see a similar pattern continuing. Poorly aligned frontal progressions will frequently move through the acute south swell window providing small and inconsistent southerly energy exclusive to the magnets for much of next week.

However, Monday should also see a small amount of short range northeasterly energy in the water leading to more options across the open beaches. Local north/northeasterly breezes increasing in the previous days will provide peaky surf in the 2ft range across the open beaches under light/moderate offshore breezes.

Further ahead, most coasts can expect small ebbs and pulses of southerly energy with the passage of the aforementioned fronts passing to the south.