Maxing, windy surf for quite a while
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 22nd May)
Best Days: Sat thru' Tues: large but windy at times. Wed: light winds, great waves with easing swells.
Recap: Thursday offered fun clean waves with light winds and inconsistent 2-3ft sets out of the E/NE. Strong to gale force SW winds developed adjacent the coast overnight and into this morning, in association with a deepening Tasman Low, and we’ve seen a rapid increase in large S’ly swell through the day. Winds have actually remained W’ly north from Sydney, keeping conditions clean, and south facing beaches have pushed 8-10ft at times, a little bigger across the Hunter. However the steep southerly swell direction has resulted in much smaller surf elsewhere.
This weekend (May 23 - 24)
The weekend forecast - although very dynamic - is also relatively straightforward.
This is thanks mainly to the slow moving nature of a large, powerful Tasman Low just east of the mainland. Gale force southerly winds will persist across its western flank all weekend, maintaining large southerly swells both days.
As a ballpark, surf size should maintain 6-8ft+ sets both days (bigger across the Hunter) but we may see both embedded pulses slightly above this but also some periods of smaller surf. That’s mainly due to the fluctuating wind field - not so much in strength, but alignment, as secondary fronts wrap around the primary low.
Probably the biggest factor to work around this weekend will be the winds.
We’re looking at all-day W'ly thru' W/SW winds north from Sydney on Saturday, tending SW across the Illawarra and S/SW along the South Coast. On Sunday, the orientation of the low will change and a more S/SW flow will spread up into most coasts. Early pockets of W/SW thru SW winds are possible north from Sydney but I’m inclined to think they’ll be brief at best (certainly the exception rather than the rule).
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Sunday will see a building E/NE swell originating from a stationary trough in the South Pacific over the last few days. It’s a shame it won’t be visible beneath the local energy as there’s likely to be inconsistent 3-4ft sets on offer.
Next week (May 25 onwards)
The Tasman Low will remain in our swell window until Tuesday (!) which means we’ll see elevated swells persisting through Wednesday even early Thursday, though the swell direction will tend more S/SE then SE thanks to a broadening fetch on its southern flank from Sunday onwards.
The aforementioned E/NE swell will reach a peak on Monday with inconsistent 3-5ft sets on offer, though the S’ly tending S/SE swell will be the most dominant, still pushing 6-8ft at south facing beaches early, easing to 5-6ft through the day (a little bigger through the Hunter). However a strong pressure gradient adjacent the coast will maintain fresh to strong S/SW winds (with isolated regions of early lighter W/SW winds, i.e. the Northern Beaches). Expect much smaller surf at beaches not open to the south.
All parameters will ease into Tuesday - the local S/SW breeze back to moderate to fresh strength (again, with a broadening region of early lighter W/SW winds), and the S/SE swell will ease from 5-6ft to 4-5ft through the day (bigger in the Hunter, smaller elsewhere), with the E/NE swell also easing quite a bit.
By Wednesday we’ll be back to light variable winds and a steady S/SE tending SE swell in the 4-5ft range, before easing from 3-4ft to 2-3ft on Thursday, though supplemented by some small E’ly swell, generated from a fetch exiting western Cook Strait mid-week. Southern ends will be smaller in size but as the swell direction veers more SE we should see a slightly broader coverage of size.
Thursday may see a front push into the southern Tasman Sea, generating some short range south swell for the afternoon and Friday, but that’s a long time away and there’s a lot of surfing to do between now and then.
Stay safe, see you Monday!