Large from the south, windy to boot
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 19th August)
Best Days: Tues/Wed: pulsey south swells with fresh W/SW winds. Thurs/Fri: very large S'ly swell, with fresh W/SW winds tending gusty S'ly some time Thurs, easing rapidly Fri. Sat: large though easing from the south, with light winds.
Recap: Small southerly swells persisted across Southern NSW all weekend around 1-2ft, and conditions were clean for Saturday and early Sunday with offshore winds. Freshening NE winds built a new windswell late Sunday, that peaked overnight before easing through today. Early morning delivered a few stray 2ft+ sets at NE swell magnets (see below from Queenscliff) but it’s flattened out this afternoon. The leading edge of a new round of acute S’ly swell from a vigorous frontal passage exiting eastern Bass Strait is only just starting to show across the Southern NSW coast, but a proper kick in size shouldn’t be too far away.
This week (August 20 - 23)
An active frontal passage across the SE corner of the country will drive W/SW gales through our acute south swell window for the next few days.
We’re just starting to see the early signs of fresh southerly swell activity, and this will translate to a slow building trend through Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of step-ladder increases into Thursday and Friday.
Tuesday, Wednesday and early Thursday will all be under the influence of a moderate to fresh W/SW airstream associated with the fronts, thanks to the axis of the Long Wave Trough being positioned over the mainland. However as the LWT pushes east into the Tasman Sea later Thursday, we’ll see the wind direction veer more S’ly on its back flank, and this will in turn create a large short range secondary S’ly swell on top of the existing S’ly groundswells.
This means clean, though blustery conditions until sometime Thursday afternoon, when the southerly will kick in at strength, with the size of the swell and the strength of the wind only favouring sheltered breaks.
Tuesday and early Wednesday should see 3-4ft surf across most south facing beaches, up to 4-5ft+ across the Hunter, however Thursday will see bigger surf pushing into the 4-6ft range early at south facing beaches, ahead of a late peak that’ll persist into Friday morning around 8-10ft+ (again, bigger across the Hunter). Size will then slowly ease into the afternoon.
Beaches not directly exposed to the south will be a lot smaller.
Despite the strength of the wind, there should be plenty of good waves to be found throughout the week; Thursday is the only curveball with the expected S’ly change at some point (though it may not affect some coasts until late in the day). Early Friday looks like the real winner at this stage, experiencing a combination of very large waves and much lighter winds as the pressure gradient relaxes under the influence of a high ridging in from the west.
We’ll also see smaller SE and E/SE swell in the water over the coming days from two seperate fetches that developed off New Zealand’s West Coast over the weekend. However no major size is likely from either source.
This weekend (August 24 - 25)
Saturday looks fantastic, with large though rapidly easing S’ly swell from 4-6ft to 3-4ft at south facing beaches, smaller elsewhere though a little bigger across the Hunter. Surface conditions should be clean with very light offshore winds and weak afternoon sea breezes.
A shallow front may clip the region on Sunday, swinging winds to the south though no major strength is on the cards at this early stage. A new S’ly swell is likely to build during the day, from 2ft+ up to 3ft+ at south facing beaches however the timing on this isn’t yet clear. It doesn’t look like a significant swell event at the moment though.
Next week (August 26 onwards)
Sunday’s late building S’ly swell should persist into Monday though ease slowly during the afternoon and further into Tuesday.
Long term model guidance is suggesting a series of small background S’ly groundswells from transient lows passing well to the south of Tasmania, though present indications are for minor energy in general. No synoptic system of any significance is expected within the Tasman Sea at this point in time.
More on this in Wednesday’s update.