Small fun south swell Saturday; S'ly gales and large surf due Wednesday

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 1st July)

Best Days: Saturday: small clean new S'ly swell, get in early. Wed: v.large, windy S'ly swell developing, good inside sheltered southern corners. Thurs/Fri: large, easing swell with rapidly improving conditions.

Recap: Small easing swells on Thursday becoming tiny today, but remaining clean with freshening offshore winds. Over the last hour or so wave heights have appeared to be slowly increasing at south facing beaches (see below) but it’s still well below surfable expectations. 

Bondi showing some small lines on the shorey late today, via our live surfcam

This weekend (Saturday 2nd - Sunday 3rd):

No changes to Guy’s forecaster notes issued Wednesday.

Gusty south-west winds are developing off the coast now, and are expected to swing more S/SW in the lee of a passing frontal system. However, these winds will last only a brief time in our swell window, and the fetch isn’t very long (extending only just to the Far South Coast) so we’re only looking at a small window of decent waves across Southern NSW this weekend. 

As such Saturday morning is your best chance for a surf in the short term, and south facing beaches will pick up the most size from this event.

Across the Sydney region we should see set waves around 3ft, maybe even 3-4ft around dawn, with an easing trend expected throughout the day (probably to 2ft+ by the afternoon). The Hunter coast may pick up slightly bigger waves, and conditions should be generally clean under a moderate W/SW breeze. 

Keep in mind that there’ll be a large range in wave heights across the coast - beaches not open to the south will be much smaller and southern corners will be tiny, even at the morning peak in swell energy. 

Surf size will remain small into Sunday though it won’t completely dry up, thanks to a modest W/SW fetch exiting eastern Bass Strait from tonight through much of Saturday. This should maintain average, inconsistent 1-2ft sets at south facing beaches throughout the day (slightly larger in the Hunter) however remaining beaches will be tiny to flat. They will however be quite clean with light offshore winds all day. 

Next week (Monday 4th onward):

All of our swell windows are expected to remain quiet from Sunday onwards for a few days, which means we’re looking at an extended period of small waves across the Southern NSW coastline. The Tasman Sea will remain devoid of activity, and a poor storm track in the Southern Ocean will generally steer cold fronts away from our southern swell window. 

We may see some small southerly swell push up the coast, originating from the backside of a weak front passing south of Tasmania later Sunday (arriving across our coast early Tuesday, possibly late Monday in the Far South) but I’d be surprised if we saw much more than a foot or two of low quality surf at south facing beaches (a little bigger in the Hunter).

Monday will probably see similarly sized, if not smaller residual south swell from the weekend, only favourable for exposed south swell magnets at best. It won't be worth your attention. 

Wednesday looks like seeing a major about-face though, with a surface trough and upper pool of cold air expected to form a deep surface low immediately off the Sydney coast overnight Tuesday. This looks like it’ll bring gale to storm force S’ly winds across many regions and a rapid increase in large stormy waves. 

Eventual surf size will hinge around just how close the low forms to the coast and how strong surface winds are, but at this early stage we can’t rule out washing-machine conditions at south facing beaches in the 8ft+ range by the afternoon, maybe bigger. However the extreme weather conditions are unlikely to favour surfing at anywhere but the most sheltered southern corners. 

Fortunately, this Tasman Low looks like it’ll drift steadily east and by Thursday we should see a weaker pressure gradient, and consequently lighter winds about the coast (though still likely moderate to fresh from the SW thru’ S at times on Thursday). I'm hopeful that the early morning at least will see some west in the wind direction across some Sydney locations, owing to local topographical influences.

Wednesday's initial large short range S’ly swell will be all but gone on Thursday, but should be replaced by a better quality S/SE swell originating from a secondary fetch developing on the southern flank of the low on Wednesday. This should deliver a secondary pulse of surf in and around the 6ft+ mark at south facing beaches - peaking sometime during Thursday, possibly even holding into early Friday if we’re lucky - though a steady easing trend is likely to close out the working week

So, aim for an early surf on Saturday morning and then prepare yourself for another onslaught of strong winds and sizeable short range Tasman swell on Wednesday, that’ll likely deliver better waves through Thursday and Friday.

Have a great weekend!


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Friday, 1 Jul 2016 at 5:19pm

How many Tasman Lows have we had in the last few months? Been pretty active!

NewcastleWaterman's picture
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NewcastleWaterman Friday, 1 Jul 2016 at 6:25pm

Its been glorious around home!

Anthony 01's picture
Anthony 01's picture
Anthony 01 Friday, 1 Jul 2016 at 8:24pm

Hey, what are your thoughts on the size and wind for next friday? I was thinking 4-5ft+ and WSW winds but not entirely sure.


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Friday, 1 Jul 2016 at 8:41pm

Yeah that's a good ball park size range for now. Likely to be bigger late Thursday which could hold into Friday morning but let's wait to see how the models evolve.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Saturday, 2 Jul 2016 at 6:34am

Decent 3ft sets pushing into Bondi this morning. Looks like the swell may be slightly delayed and still building too, so a chance for a little more size over the coming hours. 

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Sunday, 3 Jul 2016 at 8:04am

Not much on offer this morning, with long breaks between sets - the image below is probably a good indication for about as good as it might be.