Small, patchy period of waves ahead
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 18th January)
Best Days: Sat AM: last blast of peaky NE windswell with a brief window of light winds. Tues/Wed: small S'ly swells.
Recap: Peaky NE windswells have maintained 2-3ft+ sets at times over the last two days but size has eased a little this afternoon, against forecast expectations. However we should see a very late rebuilding trend through into the evening. Winds have been mainly moderate to fresh NE, with a period of light variable winds early Thursday and then an unusual period of fresh E/SE winds overnight Thursday into Friday.
Temporary drop in NE windswell this afternoon
This weekend (Jan 19 - 20)
We’ve got one final push of short range NE windswell for Saturday morning, thanks to a late strengthening trend tonight within our short range swell window.
An approaching southerly change will disrupt the flow around dawn (if not before), leading to a very early peak and then a steady decrease in size throughout the day. The models have eased back the strength of the fetch since Wednesday, so I’m consequently pulling back my forecast expectations: NE facing beaches should see 2-3ft sets early, easing to 1-2ft into the afternoon. Expect smaller surf across the northern Hunter and at south facing beaches.
We may see a light S’ly wind change in the early hours of Saturday morning as a pre-frontal trough passes over the region, but the proper southerly change - at strength - should reach Wollongong just after dawn, then most Sydney beaches between 7-9am and before nosing into the Hunter between 8-10am.
Prior to the change, winds should be light and variable and this will be your best time to surf all weekend.
In the wake of the change, we’ll see building southerly windswells to 2-3ft at south facing beaches by late Saturday afternoon though there won’t be a lot of quality in it.
Saturday’s front will clear to the east on Sunday and we’ll see light variable winds with sea breezes. Our NE swell will be all but gone, and instead we’ll be relying on a small, peaky mix of S’ly swell - leftover windswell from Saturday’s change, plus a small groundswell from the parent low, which will pass south of Tasmania on Saturday.
Expect average set waves up to 2ft+ at south swell magnets (mainly north from Sydney to the Hunter) and not a lot elsewhere.
Next week (Jan 21 onwards)
Doesn’t look like much surf in store for next week, with a weak Tasman synoptic pattern expected to maintain low swell heights for our local swell windows. General troughiness will linger through the region all week and while there’s always a chance that we’ll see the inclusion of one vital ingredient tip the balance in favour of something significant, right now it’s hard to get excited.
A series of poorly aligned though strong fronts passing south of Tasmania throughout the forecast period will drive small intermittent S’ly swells along the coast, but their sideband nature won’t contribute much size. Tuesday and early Wednesday are showing the most potential right now with an outside chance for stray 2-3ft sets at south swell magnets but there won’t be much elsewhere.
Another burst of fronts in the south-eastern corner of the Tasman Sea around Wednesday may kick up some small S/SE swell around Friday but I can’t see much in it.
Otherwise the tropics look generally uninteresting. A small but tight tropical low will develop SE of Fiji around Monday, and linger for much of the week, but without a supporting high pressure system to the south, the associated fetch length will be short and so the large travel distance will erode the vast majority of its swell potential. I’ll keep an eye on it anyway.
Have a great weekend! See you Monday.