Small intermittent south swells all week; Friday the pick with bigger waves

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 12th September)

Best DaysTues: chance for a late pulse of new S'ly swell (earlier on the South Coast). Wed: small intermittent S'ly swell but N'ly winds could ruin it. Thurs: small intermittent S'ly swell. Fri: punchy S'ly swell with light offshore winds. Sat: easing S'ly swell with light winds. 

Recap: Saturday delivered excellent conditions and a punchy NE swell with 3-5ft sets reported at exposed beaches early morning, before it eased slowly during the day. On Sunday, we began with small residual leftovers but a new south swell built during the day, providing 3ft sets at south facing beaches into the afternoon (bigger across the Hunter). This swell has eased overnight leaving us back with small peaky residual swells to start the week. 

This week (Tuesday 13th - Friday 16th)

Looks like a small week ahead but there’ll be waves at times. 

As stated last week, we’re expecting small long range south swell for much of this week. I’m not 100% on the timing of the leading edge of the first pulse but it’s likely it’ll appear across the South Coast before lunch Tuesday, before reaching the Sydney and Hunter coasts mid-late afternoon (though, it may be delayed, so Wednesday is a safer bet). Southerly swell energy will then ebb and pulse through until the end of the week.

The source of this swell is a strong, broad frontal progression across the Southern Ocean that isn’t particularly well aligned within our swell window, but the sheer size, strength and duration of the fetch means we’ll see small, long period energy pushing into exposed south swell magnets. 

Wave heights should reach 2-3ft at south facing beaches, and the Hunter region should pulse a little higher however there’ll be long breaks between sets, and we’ll also experience some lengthy lully periods between swell fronts. Point being: don’t write off the day, if the morning turns out undersized as there’ll probably be some new energy just a few hours away, down the coast. I’ll post observations in the comments below as they become available.

Surface conditions for the next few days look a little mixed thanks to a broad trough pattern off the Southern NSW coast. We may see north-easterly winds develop through Tuesday though indications are they’ll be light to moderate in strength at best, however Wednesday is looking at freshening northerly winds as a front approaches from the west, bringing a NW tending W’ly wind change overnight Wednesday. These N'ly winds will probably confine the only clean options to sheltered northern corners. 

Wednesday afternoon and (possibly) Thursday morning may also see a small degree of NE windswell from the local fetch though no major size or quality is expected.  

A low is then expected to form off the South Coast overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning, though it’s been delayed quite a bit since Friday’s forecaster notes. And unfortunately, although we’re still looking at a thin band of S/SW gales developing off the Southern NSW coast (as the system tracks further east), this characteristic is expected to last just a brief while, which will reduce the duration of the associated south swell.

It’s likely that the Far South Coast (up to about Jervis Bay) will see a new southerly swell kick in on Thursday afternoon but we probably won’t see anything in Sydney until early Friday morning. Early indications are for 4-5ft sets at south facing beaches (bigger in the Hunter) though if core wind speeds get above 40kts (as is possible) we may see a little more size at the swell magnets. However beaches not open to the south will be much smaller. Wave heights will also ease throughout the day.

Nevertheless, Thursday’s moderate to fresh W/NW winds should ease into Friday, offering clean conditions. The morning will certainly have the most size so aim for an early paddle, with smaller waves due into the afternoon.

This weekend (Saturday 17th - Sunday 18th)

At this stage, the leading up to the weekend looks a little quiet in all of our swell window, which means there are essentially no new swells on the cards for Saturday or Sunday. 

Saturday morning will start with easing leftovers from Friday’s south swell but I’m not very hopeful for much more than 2ft+ at south facing beaches (bigger in the Hunter). The afternoon and most of Sunday could be very small indeed. 

However, conditions look clean on Saturday under a mainly light pressure pattern. Sunday should see freshening NW winds as a front approaches from the west. 

Next week (Monday 19th onwards)

Sunday’s approaching front looks like it’ll deliver a punchy south swell for the start of next week, but that’s the only system of interest on the long term charts right now.


NewcastleWaterman's picture
NewcastleWaterman's picture
NewcastleWaterman Tuesday, 13 Sep 2016 at 1:18pm

stoked! first surf on friday after my SUP fin sliced my head open resulting in 17 staples, doning the Gath helmet, style master haha

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 14 Sep 2016 at 9:43am

Small and inconsistent this morning, though buoy data suggests it came up late yesterday afternoon (did anyone get a chance to surf? I was offline and didn't watch the cams).

Couple of 1.5-2ft sets at Bondi but there are long breaks between 'em.

alexsmith1's picture
alexsmith1's picture
alexsmith1 Wednesday, 14 Sep 2016 at 6:07pm

The odd decent 2ft this morning at a reliable south magnet on the NB. Hopefully Friday delivers..