Stacks of great surf ahead, from just about every direction

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

Best Days: Great waves pretty much every day.

Recap: Plenty of fun waves over the weekend, with solid 3ft+ sets at times and light onshore winds Saturday tending offshore with sea breezes Sunday. Size eased a little through the day and further into this morning, with early light winds now around to a sea breeze.

Today’s Forecaster Notes are brought to you by Rip Curl

This week (Mar 13 - 16)

We’ve got waves from just about everywhere this week.

A slow moving trough over the Southern NSW coast doesn’t have much strength behind it, but a modest fetch exiting eastern Bass Strait will produce a small south swell for Tuesday around 2ft or maybe 2-3ft. It'll be slow going through the morning, but there'll be waves if you're keen.

A deep Southern Ocean low and front currently south of Tasmania will kick up a larger, longer period south swell for Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, reaching 3-4ft at south facing beaches (and a few bigger bombs through the Hunter). 

However, at the same time a mid-period E/NE swell from ex-TC Hola (positioned off the top of New Zealand on Saturday) will also push through, arriving on Tuesday afternoon and peaking through Wednesday with occasional 3-4ft+ sets at NE facing beaches. 

It's worth mentioning that the combination of similarly-sized south and E/NE groundswells could produce occasional bigger rogue waves at reliable swell magnets. 

Local winds looks pretty good both days. Some coasts may see a lingering southerly breeze on Tuesday, though there’ll be widespread regions with light offshore winds through the morning. Light variable winds and sea breezes are expected Wednesday under a slack pressure gradient.

All of these swell sources will then ease through Thursday (though remain quite sufficient for early 3ft+ sets at exposed beaches), however we’ll also see a flukey NE swell push down the coast, generated by a tropical low (or possible tropical cyclone) in the Coral Sea. 

This is a very tricky swell window for Southern NSW, as there’s only a narrow swells track perpendicular to the Northern NSW coast, of which we then we see all kinds of unique bathymetrical complexity south from Seal Rocks, thanks to the Hunter curve.

In short: Newcastle and most Central Coast beaches won’t see much swell from this source, and even many locations in Sydney will dip out (only those who have special bathymetrical features that funnel in these swell period/direction combos). Your best chance of seeing anything from this source will be across the South and Far South Coasts, and even then swell will only just glance a handful of reliable swell magnets - if we see occasional 3ft sets at a half dozen spots, I’ll be pleased.

On the whole, don’t bank on seeing much - we just don't experience enough events from this quadrant to have any confidence in the likely outcome.

If anything, the infeed easterly fetch into the latter stages of this tropical low/cyclone - whilst it’s positioned off the SE Qld coast, around Wednesday - looks little better for our region, with occasional 2-3ft sets out of the NE across Sydney and South Coasts into Friday (again, don’t expect much across the Hunter coast). 

Local winds should remain light on Thursday and Friday so conditions are shaping up to be quite nice.

The last swell source for the working week is a deep Southern Ocean low, that’s going to project a strong front up through the Tasmania region on Wednesday and Thursday, generating a powerful long period southerly groundswell that will reach the South Coast around lunchtime Friday and could nose into Sydney late afternoon (appearing more prominently on Saturday morning).

Getting a handle on how much size is pretty hard right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the late session delivered 4-6ft sets at reliable south swell magnets (likely some much bigger bombs at offshore bombies south of Sydney). Though, the acute swell direction won’t provide a lot of size away from south friendly spots. 

This weekend (May 17 - 18)

Friday’s late arrival of south swell will peak overnight, and hold strongly into the morning before trending steadily downwards all weekend.

Early morning should see occasional 4-6ft sets at reliable south swell magnets (possibly some bigger bombs in the Hunter) but expect smaller surf to prevail as the weekend progresses, down to 3-5ft by Saturday afternoon and then 2-3ft+ on Sunday.

Again, surf size will be smaller at beaches with less southerly exposure: compared to regular south swells, this event will be slightly more S/SW of S, meaning more acute in direction, and thus favouring a smaller percentage of locations for maximum size (though, the long periods will help to boost surf size considerably at offshore bombies, where we could see some larger waves, especially late Friday and early Saturday morning).

We’ll also see a small but steady supply of E/NE swell from the backside fetch around the Coral Sea system too - no great size but enough to keep most remaining open beaches humming with 2-3ft surf. 

Winds should be light both mornings, but will pick up form the N/NE throughout the days, so aim for an early paddle both days. 

Next week (May 19 onwards)

We’ve got lots of activity in the pipeline for next week, with model guidance suggesting a new E’ly dip in the northern Tasman Sea (bringing a mid-week E’ly swell), plus a strong frontal passage across Tasmanian longitudes, generating plenty of strong south swell.

Bring it on! See you Wednesday. 


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 12 Mar 2018 at 5:41pm

Gawd, I love autumn.

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Monday, 12 Mar 2018 at 6:01pm

Let’s fuck these easterlies off!