Flukey swells for the short term; long term looks much better
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 1st April)
Best Days: Fri: small peaky NE swell and a possible late arrival of long range E/NE swell, with winds veering offshore. Sat/Sun: small, easing, inconsistent E/NE groundswell, offshore winds. Mon/Tues: solid south swell, lighter morning winds.
Recap: Surf size has been pretty small for the last few days, 1-2ft max at open beaches, with generally light winds.
This week (Apr 2 - 3)
I’m not expecting a lot of surf for the next few days.
Thursday will start off similarly small as per today with light northerly winds, but they’ll freshen from the north-east throughout the day and become pretty gusty by the afternoon. We’ll see a building windswell late in the day that should reach 2ft at most open beaches (and 2-3ft along the South Coast) but no major quality is expected.
Thursday’s freshening winds will be in response to an approaching trough, which will push off the coast overnight and swing the wind to the NW for Friday. We should see a few 2ft sets at NE swell magnets at dawn (bigger on the South Coast) but it’ll trend down steadily during the day and this windswell will be all but gone by the afternoon. Expect smaller surf at south facing beaches, and across the northern Hunter.
However, as discussed over the last few days, the leading edge of a distant E/NE groundswell is expected to reach Southern NSW during the day, generated by a powerful depression in the Far South Pacific last weekend. You’ll need to be on the lookout for a jump in peak swell periods to about 16 seconds at the various wave buoys, and some time after that - more likely late in the day - we’ll see very inconsistent set waves… but it could be twenty minutes or more between ‘em.
Although it’s a low confidence event, I can’t rule out the chance for 2-3ft sets at some of the more reliable swell magnets late in the day. Coupled with an offshore breeze, there is a chance for a fun afternoon surf.
This weekend (Apr 4 - 5)
The models have changed the weekend outlook, with better winds likely on Saturday but reduced swell options.
This is the result of a broadening of the trough occupying the eastern states. Strong northerly winds will develop along its eastern flank, but its now modelled to be more east in longitude - further away from the coast - and the lack of easterly component in the fetch means most of the swell it generates will slide straight through the middle of the Tasman Sea.
As such we’re looking at a small spread of low quality NE swell on Saturday. However the aforementioned long range E/NE swell is still modelled to be in our waters during this time - peaking on Saturday morning - and there’s certainly a chance for extremely inconsistent but well defined 2-3ft sets at times (probably best to anticipate smaller surf than this though). The general trend will be slowly down throughout the weekend too.
A gusty cold front will cross the coast overnight Saturday, swinging winds to the W/SW though surf size will remain small into Sunday - just the tail end of the distant E/NE swell (maybe a few stray 2ft sets?).
Strong W’ly through W/SW winds exiting eastern Bass Strait on Saturday (in association with the front) may also generate a small spread of S’ly swell for Sunday though early indications are there’ll be too much west in the fetch alignment, and not enough south. So, most beaches won’t see any size, and a handful of south swell magnets - like the Hunter - might pick up the odd 1-2ft wave.
A second, much more vigorous front will exiting eastern Bass Strait on Sunday morning and this has the potential for a very late kick of bigger S’ly swell, but let’s assess this in more detail on Friday.
Next week (Apr 6 onwards)
A series of powerful fronts pushing into the lower Tasman Sea from Sunday onwards will generate strong southerly swells for Monday and Tuesday. This looks like being a fairly typical late auutum/winter synoptic pattern, with moderate to fresh southerly breezes following early morning periods of light to moderate SW winds at select locations.
Wave heights should reach 3-5ft at south facing beaches (bigger in the Hunter) but we’ll need a few more days to firm things up.
Looking elsewhere, and a deep subtropical low well east of New Zealand this weekend is likely to be - to begin with, anyway - poorly aligned for our region (see below) and would ordinarily be dismissed as a swell source for Southern NSW due to NZ’s shadowing effects.
However we have seen unusually good surf from similarly position systems in recent months, and I can’t rule out a spread of small but useful swell later next week (say, Thurs/Fri), of which its latter stages have slightly better surf prospects too. If it eventuates, we could be looking three or four days of swell from this system as it's expected to remain in our swell window for quite some time.
Otherwise, long term surf prospects have weakened from this weekend's upcoming Coral Sea cyclone, which still looks like forming, though a little further to the east - and thus initially inside the New Caledonian swell shadow - before being whisked rapidly to the east once it enters our swell window.
A building ridge to the south of the cyclone (near New Caledonia on Sunday, see below) may generate some small E/NE swell for early-mid next week, but it'll largely go unnoticed.
A large southerly swell is also on the cards for next weekend, originating from a large Southern Ocean low rounding the Tasmanian corner on Thursday.
More on this in Friday’s notes.