Patchy period ahead, but there'll be OK waves at times
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 16th October)
Best Days: Thurs: fun E'ly swell with good winds into the afternoon. Fri: small mix of swells and good winds. Sun: fresh S'ly swell with light winds. Mon onwards: pulsely south swells all week with generally good winds.
Recap: Tuesday maintained easing 2-3ft sets from the weekend’s SE swell, before being overtaken by slightly smaller E/NE and NE swells today. Light winds preceded freshening NE breeze on Tuesday; today saw a shallow S’ly change push across the coast early morning though it’s already eased to below 10kts across the Sydney basin.
This week (Oct 16 - 17)
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The weekend’s northern Tasman Low that set up camp off New Zealand’s north-west tip earlier this week didn’t quite perform as well as model guidance indicated on Monday.
I’m still expecting a decent E’ly swell to arrive later today and build through Thursday (peaking around lunchtime or into the afternoon) but I’ve pulled the “+” from wave height estimates and am now expecting inconsistent 3-4ft sets at the height of the swell. So, there’s a chance early Thursday morning will be a little undersized.
Early light N’ly winds will precede a NW tending W’ly change during the day, so the afternoon is your best time to get wet anyway.
The fetch around this low was best aimed towards Northern NSW, so across the Southern NSW region we can probably expect slightly smaller surf as you head south from Sydney.
Thursday’s W’ly change will be associated with a brief low forming east of Bass Strait that afternoon that’ll quickly whisk itself away to the east, lasting only a short duration within the swell window. We should see a brief spike in short range S’ly swell during Friday, into the 2-3ft range at south facing beaches (and a smidgen higher across the Hunter) and early offshore winds will precede afternoon sea breezes.
Expect Thursday’s E/NE swell to be greatly diminished by Friday too.
As a side note, both Thursday and Friday may see small levels of mid-range N/NE swell from a robust but shadowed N’ly fetch developing off the Northern NSW coast today. Unfortunately the coast alignment south from Seal Rocks (i.e. clockwise back to the S/SW) doesn’t lend itself to a favourable outlook for a fetch of this alignment, but we can’t rule out a handful of reliable north-facing beaches picking up stray 2-3ft sets at times (I suspect most of these will be located south of Sydney though).
It’s a low percentage event but worth keeping on the radar as the mix of pre-existing swells and pockets of light winds could favour some peaky beach breaks if the planets all line up.
This weekend (Oct 18 - 19)
A strong frontal passage across Tasmanian longitudes this weekend will generate some south swell for our region. However, the first front will really only enter our swell window early Saturday, which means overnight Saturday into Sunday is where we’ll see the first notable upwards trend.
This means Saturday will generally be small with residual energy from Friday, and clean conditions under mainly offshore winds.
Sunday’s building S’ly swell will produce a wide range in wave heights thanks to the flukey, shadowed source of the swell (initially exiting eastern Bass Strait, then from a second source below Tasmania) but we should see 3ft sets at most south facing beaches, pushing 4ft+ across the Hunter. However, beaches not open to the south will be much smaller.
Sunday’s conditions look good at this stage with generally light winds under a high pressure ridge. So, book in a surf at your favourite south swell magnet.
Next week (Oct 20 onwards)
We’ve got a seemingly endless supply of Southern Ocean fronts moving through the lower Tasman Sea next week, which will supply back-to-back S’ly swells through into next weekend.
At this stage Monday is expected to see the most size with sets around 3-4ft at south facing beaches (potentially 4-6ft across the Hunter) but of course much smaller elsewhere.
Wave heights will ebb and flow all week in the 3ft+ range as various pulses arrive and depart, and the swell direction will tend S/SE during the second half of the week as the storm track moves across into the eastern lower Tasman Sea.
No major synoptic features are expected across the Southern NSW coastal region so conditions should be generally good, likely light morning winds and afternoon NE sea breezes.
More in Friday’s update.