Friday is the pick of the forecast period

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 12th October)

Best Days: Fri: early light winds and a solid, easing S/SE swell. Sat AM: easing S/SE swell and light winds early. 

Recap: Southerly swell built throughout Tuesday, reaching 2-3ft at Sydney's south facing beaches by late afternoon. Wave heights have held in around this size or slightly bigger today (with larger waves across the Hunter), likely from the two sources mentioned on Monday - the initial short range S/SW fetch parallel to the coast plus a secondary, stronger SW fetch located SW of Tasmania over the weekend. Spectral data from the Sydney wave buoy this morning shows a reasonable spread of energy around the 16 second mark (which fits in with model expectations regarding the second swell source). Today's conditions have been generally clean with light offshore winds and sea breezes. 

This week (Oct 13th - Oct 14th)

Thursday looks pretty ugly at exposed beaches.

A strong southerly change will move up the coast tonight, reaching Sydney between midnight and 2am Thursday. This synoptic flow will probably override any local topographical influences early morning, meaning beaches open to the south will be bumpy - and they’re the only ones expected to see any size. 

Unfortunately, the models have weakened the strength of this change since Monday’s runs, which has reduced size prospects across the coast. So protected southern corners will be very small. We’re probably looking at 4-5ft sets across south facing beaches by the afternoon (smaller earlier, building during the day) but it’ll bigger - and very choppy - across the Hunter. Expect smaller surf at beaches not open to the south.

If you had to put percentages on it, Thursday will see a much greater weighting of short period windswell in the mix compared to longer period groundswell - the longer wavelength energy is not due to arrive until overnight Thursday and into Friday. Winds will ease throughout Thursday (as the swell builds) but on the balance it’s hard to imagine there’ll be any amazing surf on offer.

Friday looks much better with a high pressure system moving across the region, allowing light variable winds to envelop the coastal margin. We may still see some leftover wobble across exposed spots but overall surf conditions will be a lot better. Surf size will ease throughout the day; south facing beaches across Sydney should see 4ft to maybe 4-5ft sets early morning (most of this energy being better, longer period S’ly swell originating from a broader fetch south of Tasmania today), but it’ll probably be down to 3ft by the afternoon

The Hunter should see slightly bigger surf but once again we’re looking at much smaller waves at beaches not open to the south. Get in early before the afternoon sea breeze and size drop.

This weekend (Oct 15th - Oct 16th)

With no new swell sources for the weekend - save a local northerly windswell on Sunday - you’ll have to make the most of Saturday morning’s leftover south swell. 

South facing beaches across the Sydney region should see early 2ft to maybe 2-3ft sets at exposed swell magnets at dawn, but it’ll be much smaller elsewhere, and diminishing by the hour. The Hunter should see a few bigger bombs but conversely, it’ll be smaller south of Sydney (as the swell will be ‘drying up’ from the south first).

Freshening NE winds are expected into the afternoon so make the most of the dawn patrol.

Sunday looks like a day of small weak leftover surf plus some small new windswell courtesy of a local fetch. At this stage the models aren’t lining up too well so I’m not expecting much more than a slow 1-2ft wind wave at north facing beaches. And these spots will be choppy under the local breeze too. 

Next week (Oct 17th onwards)

A weak trough is expected to push across Southern NSW early Monday, bringing about a shallow southerly change to the coast. Depending on how much the northerly fetch strengthens in our immediate swell window, we may see some small NE wind waves across north-facing beaches but right now I’m not particularly excited by what the synoptics are offering.

Otherwise, a series of fronts scheduled to push through the lower Tasman Sea have been significantly downgraded in the latest runs, which suggests we could be looking at a weak of low swell potential for much of Southern NSW for the rest of the week. Let’s take a closer look on Friday. 


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Wednesday, 12 Oct 2016 at 4:11pm

Certainly no huge swell on the way but Friday looks pretty fun.

WarHawk's picture
WarHawk's picture
WarHawk Thursday, 13 Oct 2016 at 6:50am

could be a bit far out still, but i'm moving back to qld from melbourne next weekend. stopping at ulladulla then cronulla. not looking like much action at this stage. any magnet recommmendations?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Thursday, 13 Oct 2016 at 8:17am

Bloody hell, Bondi is already punching slightly higher than forecast this morning. Easy 4-6ft sets though terribly wind affected.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Friday, 14 Oct 2016 at 8:12am

Solid in Bondi this morning!

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook Friday, 14 Oct 2016 at 9:36am

"You're gonna wear a lot of closeouts on the head "....very accurate surf forecasting there.