Small mix of swells, brief window of light winds each morning

Guy Dixon picture
Guy Dixon (Guy Dixon)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Guy Dixon (issued Monday 7th March)

Best Days: No great days, early morning best of a bad bunch.


It was a fairly ordinary weekend along the NSW coast, with a mix of swell providing options ebbing and pulsing between 2-3ft. Breezes seemed to be the issue rather than the lack of swell however. A northeasterly seabreeze hasn’t had much trouble becoming established each morning, so south facing beaches have faired best.

This week (Tuesday 8th - Friday 11th):

Looks as though we have more of the same for the next week or so, with a small mix of E’ly trade energy, pulses of small and ordinarily aligned southerly groundswells, with hints of short range northeasterly windswell thrown in at times.

Easterly trade energy is the dominant swell in the water at the moment, being generated by a broad but weak fetch north of New Zealand last week and over the weekend. This energy looks to slowly ease during Tuesday with the southern swell window taking the reins momentarily.

A small southerly groundswell is due to peak on Tuesday morning across the exposed south swell magnets, generated by a frontal progression which moved to the south of Tasmania into the weekend. The alignment of the swell generating fetches with this system were not ideal, so there is a touch of westerly component in the swell, hence the need to head to exposed south facing beaches.

Nevertheless, we should see the surf build later today to a peak on Tuesday morning of around 2ft, with the occasional 3ft set in the mix. The Hunter should offer larger surf in the 3ft+ range across exposed south facing breaks.

Broad west/southwesterly fetches off the back of this frontal progression are working on an active sea state over the southern ocean, well south of Tasmania today and should provide another pulse of groundswell peaking late on Wednesday in the 2ft range, with the occasional set approaching 3ft once again. Thursday should see the surf fade from a similar range (larger across the Hunter again).

Meanwhile, returning our focus to the eastern swell window, last night/today’s charts show a small easterly fetch sitting over central/northern parts of the Tasman which is well aligned to the NSW coast while moving in a capture motion. The fetch strength is fairly modest as it is only steered by a ridge and slight deepening of a trough, but should still provide a small pulse to around 2ft to occasionally 3ft due Wednesday.

By this stage, a weak northeasterly fetch hugging the coast will have added a small amount of windswell into the mix for open beaches, but modest and only really adding around a foot or two into the mix. This fetch is more likely to just be a nuisance by impacting the quality of the more substantial trade-swell.

By Friday, we should be seeing the last of three southerly pulses for the week building across south facing beaches. This time, models suggest a deep cut-off low to rapidly traverse the southern Tasman on Wednesday, leaving very little time for any decent swell generation. The initial westerly fetches on the northern side of this system as it rounds the corner of southern Tasmania into our swell window are poorly aligned, but should provide around 2ft across the south facing beaches.

The wind outlook looks very similar to what we have been seeing over the past few days, with a light northerly breeze early each morning, with the outside chance of tending north/northwesterly at selected locations south of Sydney. These light winds are not expected to challenge a seabreeze in any way, becoming northeasterly from mid-morning.

This weekend (Saturday 12th - Sunday 13th):

The more intense southerly core fetches circulating this low as it passes over the Tasman at its most intense have better alignment, but the rapid motion of this system is severely limiting the potential for swell generation. 

As a result, the weekend should only see around 1-2ft of southerly swell across the magnets.

The more dominant source of energy will be a broad but weak easterly fetch south of New Caledonia providing inconsistent 2ft sets across the open beaches.

A northeasterly wind regime should continue, lightest during the early hours of each morning.


Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 8 Mar 2016 at 7:54am

Very inconsistent but man, a solid set just pushed through Bondi!

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Tuesday, 8 Mar 2016 at 12:28pm

I'll be looking for more than just 1-2' from that southerly system, all dependent on whether my timing and the timing of the swell coincide. Won't last more than a day, and probably less.

Will be keeping my eye on it though.

Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx Tuesday, 8 Mar 2016 at 1:45pm

Southerly groundswell much better than forecast. I just scored for a few hours on the dropping tide at a south exposed beach. Sometimes 10 minutes between sets but strong sets of 3-6 waves when they come. Well overhead on the sets - actually got a standup barrel on one.

Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx Tuesday, 8 Mar 2016 at 5:14pm

Went back for another paddle, swell has backed off a bit now. Still odd decent set.

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey Tuesday, 8 Mar 2016 at 6:20pm

epic afternoon of waves. im calling it 3 ft consistent with the odd 4 foot bomb