One good morning in the short term, then a dynamic period next week onwards
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 29th January)
Best Days: Sunday: peaky NE swell with light morning winds. Next week onwards: stacks of swells, though there'll be periods of poor winds. But it'll be an extended swell event with lots of options and there'll be a couple of great days in the mix. Could also become quite sizeable later in the week or weekend.
Recap: We’ve seen small surf for the last few days, with light variable winds Tuesday swinging moderate S’ly in the evening and persisting through today. Peaky NE swells padded out Tuesday with slow sets around 2ft+, and a small long period S’ly swell was detected at some buoys late afternoon (Tp of around 14 seconds). Today has seen the NE swell ease and the S’ly swell persist, along with a small trailing windswell in the lee of the change. Certainly nothing to write home about.
This week (Jan 30 - 31)
I’m not expecting a great deal of surf for the next few days.
Thursday will be between swells (well, we kinda are now anyway), with the only possible source of interest being a flukey long range S’ly swell that graced SA, Vic and Tas with good waves over the last few days.
However, this swell was generated within a poor region of our swell window so only a handful of exposed swell magnets are likely to see stray 2ft+ sets at best. It’s not worth worrying about, and most other locations will see very small conditions with light variable winds keeping conditions clean ahead of freshening afternoon NE breezes.
Very late Thursday and into Friday will see the arrival of a small distant E/NE swell, generated by a tropical low positioned SE of Samoa over the weekend. The large distance will erode most of its size and energy but some beaches may pick up occasional 2ft+ sets, with excruciatingly long breaks between waves. Again, this is a low confidence event from a flukey swell source, so don’t shift the diary around.
Early winds will be light but we’ll see strengthening NE breezes through the day. The last few hours could see an appreciable kick in associated NE windswell into the 2-3ft range, but it’ll be wind affected.
For what its worth, locations south from the Illawarra will probably see steady 2-3ft NE windswells all day Friday, as the local fetch is expected to become established here much earlier (in fact, overnight Thursday). The late afternoon will also pick up a boost in size towards 4ft thanks to the increased fetch length and longer duration in the swell window.
This weekend (Feb 1 - 2)
Saturday will see plenty of NE swell across the coast, but moderate to fresh N/NE winds will create problems at times. Surf size should reach 3-4ft+ across most beaches, perhaps a shade bigger south from Sydney, but you’ll have to watch the winds closely as there’s presently no indications of any favourable pockets of lighter conditions.
There’ll also be some minor underlying E/NE swell from Friday though it’ll be impossible to detect beneath the noise.
Sunday still looks much better, with a trough enveloping the region, bringing light variable winds through most of the day though a S’ly change will spread up the coast, probably into the South Coast around lunchtime and Sydney about dinnertime (roughly speaking).
Saturday’s NE swell will ease though early morning should manage some 3-4ft sets at NE facing beaches. Let’s firm up the timing on the wind change in Friday’s notes, but for now - Sunday morning is the pick of the forecast period.
Next week (Feb 3 onwards)
First up: I’m still expecting a small, intermittent series of long range SE groundswells through much of next week, sourced from an unusual polar low well S/SE of New Zealand later this week and through the weekend. No major size is expected though inconsistent 2-3ft sets are likely at times.
There are much more interesting swell sources on the boil for next week though.
Sunday’s late S’ly change will stall in a troughy configuration off the coast overnight, before a second, stronger S’ly change rockets up behind and delivers a period of windy conditions (and building S’ly swells) to the coast into the evening.
The models are moving around on the specifics for the rest of the week - there’s always been a suggestion of a stationary trough somewhere along the East Coast, though it’s not been sure on where to place it (Southern NSW or Northern NSW). The timing is not yet clear either. However it appears to be a slow moving, if not stationary synoptic pattern which means a lengthy swell event of some description.
Regardless, the upshot is that we’re looking at a major E/SE swell event through the middle to latter part of next week, and surf size is likely to push north of 6ft and possibly near 8ft at times (though, this is more likely later in the week, or perhaps the weekend). There’s even a suggestion for an ECL right off the coast next weekend though this is still a very long time away.
It’ll certainly provide plenty of anticipation in the model-watching department over the coming days, anyway.
Just for the record, we have other swell sources that should be noted. A small Tropical Cyclone is likely SE of Samoa by this weekend but it looks too distant and poorly consolidated to make any major influence on our surf next week (especially with the local synoptic charts looking very active).
Also, it’s usually the case that any upgrade within one swell window results in a downgrade in another, and in this case it's the tropical source around New Caledonia/Fiji that I’ve been mentioning for the last little while. There’s still a trade flow progged but right now it probably won’t even land on anyone’s radars.
So, get yourself set for an exciting period of swell next week, weekend and beyond.
See you Friday!