South by south-east
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 3rd June)
Best Days: Thurs: large S'ly swell though with mainly fresh S'ly winds, pockets of SW early. Fri/Sat: quality combo of easing S'ly swell and a new SE pulse, with light winds. Sun: long period S'ly swell early AM with light winds ahead of a S'ly change after lunch.
Recap: Tuesday saw building S’ly swells into the 3-4ft range at south facing beaches through the day, with W’ly winds keeping conditions nice and clean. Surprisingly larger bombs were reported at one offshore bombie late in the day though these were certainly somewhat of a regional outlier. Surf size eased a smidge this morning as expected, though we’ve seen a rapid increase in size this afternoon along with a wind shift to the south, at strength (following morning W’ly winds). South facing beaches are now in excess of 6ft and continuing to build.
This week (June 4 - 5)
We’re at the cusp of the next phase of south swell, which will dominate the next few days. Sourced primarily from a strong front that pushed through the lower Tasman Sea today (originating form polar latitudes), we’ll then see secondary energy from a developing Tasman Low off New Zealand’s West Coast.
The upshot of this is an early peak in S’ly swell expected Thursday morning (6ft, maybe 6-8ft south facing beaches, much smaller elsewhere though a little bigger in the Hunter), with moderate to fresh, though easing S/SW winds. A few locations should see a morning SW, possibly W/SW flow thanks to an relaxing pressure gradient overnight, but it’ll probably be restricted to the Northern Beaches and locations south from the Illawarra. Most exposed spots will retain the bumps leftover from today’s windy conditions.
Surf size will trend down into Thursday afternoon and the swell direction will swing more S/SE into Friday, with reinforcing 4-5ft surf across most south facing beaches and a few bigger sets through the Hunter, though smaller surf on offer at beaches not directly exposed to the south. Late afternoon should see the direction trend more SE.
Friday certainly looks to be the pick of this week with light variable winds tending offshore, and therefore clean conditions just about everywhere. It'll be well worth hunting down somewhere to surf.
This weekend (June 6-7)
One final push of energy from this weather sequence is expected from late Friday into Saturday, sourced from the core of the Tasman Low off New Zealand’s West Coast.
It’s expected to reach peak intensity on Thursday morning (see below), and although not perfectly aimed towards our region, will generate a useful spread of SE swell that should maintain 4ft sets across exposed beaches for much of Saturday, perhaps easing slightly into the afternoon. Southern ends will be smaller in size.
Note: these numbers are higher than our surf model is predicting, and I have a feeling one or two regional swell magnets could even slightly outperform my expectations, but given the off-axis, distant swell source I’d rather be a little cautious with this one.
Conditions look excellent with light variable tending offshore winds. It should be a great day of waves almost everywhere (banks pending).
Late Saturday, the leading edge of a new long period S’ly groundswell will make landfall on the Far South Coast, having been generated by a deep though poorly aligned polar low/front well below the continent on Thursday.
There’s been a downgrade in the strength, duration and northern-extent of this system so I’m pulling back my size estimates for this swell as it reaches a peak across most coasts on Sunday morning. South facing beaches should see inconsistent 3ft+ sets though offshore bombies and other reliable south swell magnets (such as the Hunter) could see bigger waves in the 4-5ft+ range.
The main risk on Sunday will be a developing S’ly airstream as a new surface low develops off the South Coast. It appears we’ll have a decent window of light winds through the morning but any time from lunchtime onwards is at risk of becoming blown out. I'll firm up the specifics on Friday.
Next week (June 8 onwards)
Sunday’s developing surface low now looks like it’ll move to the north-east, so conditions should improve quickly though wave heights will only peak for a short period of time.
In fact, it appears that a series of new long period S’ly swells generated by migrating polar lows below Tasmania (over the weekend) will probably be a more reliable source of S’ly swell through the first half of next week.
More on this in Friday’s update.