Easing swell with prospects mid-late next week

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Guy Dixon (Guy Dixon)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Guy Dixon (issued Friday 6th November)

Best Days: Monday morning, Tuesday morning on a long board or Wednesday under dicey winds.


Gusty northeasterly breezes whipped up a sizey northeasterly swell on Thursday, providing peaks in the 4-5ft range along the Hunter and Sydney and Illawarra stretch. Unfortunately, the same breezes which generated the swell had an impact on the quality, making it hard to find a clean wave.

This morning’s northeasterly swell came in right on forecast with peaks in the 3-5ft range at dawn. It was a little raw at first, with some residual scarring from moderate northeasterly breezes which persisted right up until midnight. Breezes finally swung northwesterly at around 3am, however could’ve been a touch stronger to groom the line up. Nevertheless, it only took a short search to find a clean set up (generally at a more south facing beach), although conditions did gradually improve elsewhere with time.

This weekend (Saturday 7th - Sunday 8th):

The northeasterly wind swell whipped up on Thursday will gradually subside over the coming days, fading from the 2-3ft mark at open on Saturday morning.

However, southerly change moving up the coast later this evening will whip up an element of short range southerly swell peaking on Saturday afternoon. To make matters more complex, a long range southerly ground swell generated by more significant core fetches over the southern ocean will also filter in.

All in all, south facing beaches are expected to build into the 2-3ft range in the afternoon, larger across the Hunter. However, persistent south/southeasterly breezes will compromise the quality of the surf, leading to sloppy, uninviting conditions. Protected southern corners will be the best option, although be prepared to sacrifice some size.

This long period southerly swell is then expected to fade throughout Sunday however, short range southerly wind swell generated by local southerly breezes will continue to provide low quality peaks building to the 3ft+ range (possibly 4ft on the sets into the afternoon).

Unfortunately, the wind outlook for Sunday is not as positive as first anticipated. We are now looking at a moderate/fresh southerly breezes dominating the Illawarra, Sydney and Hunter coasts virtually all day, with only slight respite coming in the late afternoon as winds ease a touch.

Next week (Monday 9th onward):

The surf will fade across all coasts on Monday, easing from the 2-3ft range at south facing beaches in the morning.

Focussing on the silver lining, winds look to become light/variable for the early session when the surf is at it’s largest. As the day progresses, breezes will prevail from the southeast, however remaining light for much of the day.

Similarly, a ridge lingering over head will lead to light/variable winds on Tuesday morning, tending light onshore in the afternoon.

These details are fairly insignificant however considering the lack of swell on the cards.

Tuesday is only looking at subtle long range southerly energy, with south facing beaches offering options in the 1-2ft range. As mentioned in Wednesday's notes, we were hoping for an southeasterly swell generated by an elongated southeasterly fetch off the southern tip of New Zealand, however that system is looking a little less perfect but an inconsistent 2ft wave is likely from this source, easing through Wednesday.

Wednesday is looking at a very long period southerly ground swell to fill in throughtout the day generated by a strong, but poorly aligned frontal progression moving over the southern Tasman on Monday night. Although the size of this swell is modest, the long periods will lead to inconsistent surf in the 2-3ft range at south swell magnets through the morning, reaching 3ft+ into the afternoon with 4ft sets on the Hunter. Unfortunately, the airflow looks to be east/southeasterly all day, making it tricky to find a clean wave. This swell should ease from a similar size Thursday morning.

The end of the week holds more prospects for surf as a northeasterly fetch sets up off the coast of NSW yet again (it seems to be the season of northeasterly swells followed by light offshore’s and southerly change doesn’t it).

At this stage, the fetch looks to be concentrated on far southern parts of the South Coast, leaving weaker fetches on the northern flank to generate the swell for the Hunter/Sydney stretch. As a result, I’m inclined to be conservative until models change.

Thursday should build into the 3-4ft range along the South Coast, more in the 2ft range for open beaches further north. The surf should continue to build throughout Friday, potentially to the 3ft range along the Sydney stretch, with windows off light winds preceding a southerly change. More detail to come next week.