Small and clean Saturday; wet and windy Sunday; plenty of options next week

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 17th June)

Best Days: Saturday: small easing S'ly swell at swell magnets, with good winds. Monday: clean but easing NE swell and fresh NW winds. Tuesday: clean S'ly swell with moderateto fresh W'ly winds. 


Plenty of waves over the last few days with good winds. Thursday delivered a mix of easterly and southerly swell with the biggest sets around 3-4ft at south facing beaches. Today we’ve seen a longer period, but much less consistent south swell push across the region. Between sets it’s very small but south facing beaches have seen solid 4ft sets at times, with bigger waves across the Hunter.

This weekend (Saturday 18th - Sunday 19th):

Today’s southerly swell is expected to ease in size overnight, and conditions should remain clean into Saturday with generally moderate NW winds.

A couple of shallow southerly changes are expected to push along the South Coast during the day - one in the morning, and a second, stronger change in the afternoon - but they’re unlikely to affect anywhere north of Wollongong until after dinnertime. If anything, across Hunter/Sydney/Illawarra coasts we’ll probably see the morning nor’wester drop out to become variable in the afternoon.

As for size, today was extremely inconsistent across all beaches and as we’ll be on the backside of the current energy, we can expect similarly inconsistent swells becoming smaller in size throughout Saturday. So, south swell magnets may pick up 2ft sets, perhaps the odd 2-3ft bomb at times (a little bigger in the Hunter) but the trend will be downwards throughout the day. There’ll also be a minor E’ly swell in the water but it’s not worth working around.

Saturday’s late southerly change will largely diminish overnight, though prior to this the models expect that it’ll display a reasonable amount of strength off the South Coast. So a small S’ly swell is expected to build across south facing beaches during Sunday, maybe some 2ft sets if we're lucky.

This will however be overshadowed by strengthening SE tending E’ly (and eventually NE) winds as a surface low forms within a broad coastal trough. Winds will initially be strongest across Sydney and Hunter coasts, extending southwards throughout the day, but it’s hard to imagine there’ll be much, if any quality surf on offer. 

If you’re desperate, exposed beaches should have a late stormy mix of swells anywhere between 4ft and maybe 6ft right on dark, but it'll be very junky and messy. Don’t be surprised if this peak in stormy swell actually occurs overnight, as we’re not likely to see the strongest winds developing in our swell window until early-mid afternoon, and if the models delay the onset of these winds then the peak will be shunted back a few hours.

Either way I can't see much value in the surf on Sunday right now.

Next week (Monday 20th onward):

The synoptics look really impressive for the start of next week but we’re a long way from reproducing the incredible swells seen across NSW last week.

That being said, we should see some good waves on Monday. The surface low is expected to continue developing off the South Coast and will push steadily out to sea, allow gusty north-west winds to envelop the Sydney region on Monday, tending westerly then west-southwest throughout the day.

A broad NE fetch will have developed through the central western and northern Tasman Sea from Sunday onwards, but it’ll slide SE into Monday and Tuesday, perpendicular to the swell window, which will reduce its swell potential. Wind speeds look very good but I am concerned about the speed of its south-easterly track.

As such I’m expecting clean, occasionally blustery 3-4ft at NE facing beaches on Monday morning with a steady easing trend during the day (probably 2ft+ by mid-late afternoon). Expect smaller waves at south facing beaches. 

As the low develops east of the South Coast on Monday, we’ll see storm force SW thru’ S/SW winds occupy a narrow region of our south swell window between Eden and Wollongong. The broader fetch will also track SE, and turn clockwise (away from our swell window) which essentially means it’ll spend only a short period of time in a useful swell generating position (relative to Southern NSW).

The strongest winds are expected early Monday evening, which means the associated energy from this will kick in during the early hours of Tuesday morning, peak well before lunchtime and trend downwards throughout the day.

The models do maintain a small supporting southerly fetch further south but it won’t be worth a great deal of size, and won’t last very long either.

Tuesday morning’s south swell should see very early 3-4ft sets at south facing beaches (significantly smaller residual NE swell elsewhere) but I think it’ll lose size rapidly during the day. At least conditions will be clean under a fresh westerly breeze. 

A quick caveat on Tuesday’s swell though - (1) surf size will be smaller across the South Coast due to the latitude of the fetch, and (2) I’m not confident on the size prospects from this storm, due to its currently modelled proximity to the mainland. If the models shunt it 100km to the west, the current (modelled) fetch will be over land and we’d see no south swell at all. But right now there seems to be a reasonable agreement between the models that some south swell will eventuate, let’s just hope it doesn’t peak under the cover of darkness.

Looking further ahead, and there’s nothing major expected across the region from Wednesday through Friday, however an amplifying upper level long wave trough is expected to push in from the west later in the week, and could very well be the trigger for a significant Tasman Low sometime next weekend or early in the following week. We’ll have more on that in Monday’s update.


thermalben's picture
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thermalben Friday, 17 Jun 2016 at 4:14pm

BOM don't seem to agree with my wind forecast for Sunday. They have: "West to southwesterly 10 to 15 knots tending southeast to southwesterly 20 to 30 knots during the afternoon and reaching 35 knots at times during the evening."

It is a very complex outlook with the low forming so close to Sydney/Newcastle early Sunday, but model guidance has straight SE tending E'ly winds during the day, then N/NE gales by dinnertime at least (if not earlier).

raycollins's picture
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raycollins Friday, 17 Jun 2016 at 4:32pm

Thanks Ben!

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
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Halfscousehalfc... Friday, 17 Jun 2016 at 7:08pm

I pity the locals of a certain northern beaches beachie as everyone knows it has a hell bank in a north east swell

geoffrey's picture
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geoffrey Saturday, 18 Jun 2016 at 8:46am

'puerto illawarra' will also have 50+ on it haha. funnily enough it had rubbish banks for the last 12-18 months and will now have a consistent crowd on it regardless of conditions for the next 12 months till it falls off the radar again. at least it keeps the majority of crew off the other good banks around!!!

alexsmith1's picture
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alexsmith1 Saturday, 18 Jun 2016 at 1:15pm


Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
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Halfscousehalfc... Saturday, 18 Jun 2016 at 4:54pm

That last swell was so good for the banks on the cenny coast. No hell ones that I've seen but heaps of decent ones that have spread the crowd instead of the one good bank and the 50 blokes.

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batfink Monday, 20 Jun 2016 at 11:40am

Cool, pleased to hear that. Quite a few beachies at the northern ends of central coast needed some sand moved around. Will be back up there in a couple of weeks and looking forward to finding options at my favourite beachies.

alexsmith1's picture
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alexsmith1 Sunday, 19 Jun 2016 at 7:46pm

Ben/Guy we still on track for tomorrow mornins short lived 3-4ft NE swell?

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Sunday, 19 Jun 2016 at 8:08pm

Yep the low is developing a little slower than Friday's models suggested but it looks like it'll wind up quickly overnight with 3-4ft surf through Monday morning and NW winds quickly cleaning things up.

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thermalben Monday, 20 Jun 2016 at 12:30pm

Shame the swell is dropping just as things are staring to clean up.