Thursday and Friday the pick of the forecast period

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 3rd March)

Best Days: Thurs/Fri: quality E/SE groundswell with good winds. 

Recap: Early W’ly winds on Saturday preceded a poor second half of Saturday and Sunday across most regions as gusty southerly winds enveloped the coast. Friday’s south swell eased into Saturday but we saw a junky short range S’ly swell build behind the change into Sunday. Today winds have been mainly onshore though many regions saw a period of early light offshore winds. It’s since returned to a fresh S/SE breeze. Size is now increasing from the E/SE in association with a ridge through the Tasman Sea. 

This week (Apr 4 - 7)

Note: Forecaster Notes will be brief this week because Craig’s on leave.

Plenty of surf this week but tricky winds for the next few days. 

A strong ridge extends across the Central/Northern Tasman Sea, aimed up into the Coral Sea. This fetch isn’t perfectly placed for us but it’s quite wide and just south in latitude to allow for a decent spread of E/SE swell into our region. 

This should maintain mid-range 4-5ft surf through Tuesday and Wednesday though we’ll initially feel the influence of the ridge against the coast on Tuesday, maintaining moderate to fresh S/SE winds across our region. There's a low chance for isolated regions of early offshore winds tomorrow morning but I'm not expecting much in the way of high quality surf. If anything, it'll allow for a short period of lumpy surf, instead of bumpy chop.

These winds will slowly ease into Wednesday but could still be a problem in a few areas - though mainly from Sydney through the Hunter region by this time as the ridge contracts north-east into the Tasman. Conditions will improve more quickly on the South Coast on Wednesday, so expect reasonable options south of Sydney mid-week

However, surf size will probaly be smaller south of the Illawarra both Tuesday and Wednesday because of the slightly larger travel distance/spread form the source fetch. 

On Tuesday, E/SE gales are expected to develop through western Cook Strait (the body of water separating the North and South Island of New Zealand) and this will set up a longer period E/SE swell for Thursday. This is good timing because the ridge through the Tasman will be weakening from Tuesday onwards, so Thursday morning will initially see a temporary drop in size (2-3ft) ahead of the new energy arriving mid-late morning, which should boost surf size back into the 4-5ft+ range for the afternoon session. 

Thursday's swell will be much better quality as the wavelength will be larger, and we’ll be into a light/variable pattern too. So, Thursday is undoubtably the pick of the forecast period so far.

Unfortunately, this fetch won’t last long so we’ll see easing size from 3-5ft early on Friday morning down to 2-3ft during the day. But conditions should be great to finish the week with light variable winds and sea breezes. A small reinforcing SE swell is possible during the day - from a secondary S/SE fetch developing off the SW tip of NZ on Wednesday - but it probably won’t be much bigger than the pre-existing, easing E/SE swell. 

This weekend (Apr 8 - 9)

Nothing amazing expected this weekend, just a small blend of easing E/SE and SE swell from Friday (early 2ft sets on Sat, smaller later) plus some small trade swell. No new swell is expected on Sunday so expect small weak conditions. 

Winds will be light in general on Saturday, mainly out of the north, ahead of a freshening NE breeze on Sunday preceding a gusty S’ly change late in the day.

Next week (Apr 10 onwards)

Early next week has a suggested Tasman Low (in the lee of Sunday's change) meandering through the southern region from Monday thru’ Wednesday, which has the potential for a couple of days of solid south through south-east swell. It's still early days though.

It also looks like we’ll see a Tropical Cyclone develop to the SE of Fiji later this week and remain slow moving in the South Pacific for some time, under a weak steering pattern. Whilst this cyclone is expected to become quite intense, the initial lack of a supporting ridge to the south plus the large distance between it and the mainland will reduce its swell potential for the East Coast of Australia. That being said, tropical cyclones are erratic at just a few days forecast time (let alone a week) so we’ll have to keep a close eye on this for swell potential next week. 

But at this stage, early indications suggest small long period E/NE swell mid-late next week.