Extended run of southerly swell coming up

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 3rd July)

Best Days: Sun/Mon: fun S'ly swell, OK conditions in the mornings. Easing Tues. Wed/Thurs: strong S'ly swell, light winds.

Recap: Wave heights eased slowly from Wednesday into Thursday, offering 2ft+ sets at most open beaches though there were very long breaks between waves. The expected minor pulse of small new energy didn’t really show through the afternoon, though this morning still managed slow 2ft sets at exposed beaches, before easing to 1ft through the day. Conditions have been clean with light offshore winds. 

Residual SE swell just hanging in there at Manly this morning

This weekend (July 4 - 5)

We’ve still got a small sneaky SE swell in the model guidance for Saturday morning, but I don’t think it’ll amount to much size across the coast.

The source is a small, brief low tucked inside New Zealand’s South Island earlier in the week, but it didn’t look great on the synoptics so I’ll be surprised if we see much more than a lazy 1.5ft at a handful of reliable swell magnets. Most beaches will be tiny to flat.

Otherwise, a series of fronts will rocket through the lower Tasman Sea from Saturday morning onwards, generating a steadily building S/SW trend that’ll reach a peak late Sunday or early Monday. Winds will trend S/SW at some point both days but the mornings are likely to see periods of W/SW winds and thus cleaner conditions (though Saturday morning will go to waste with the tiny surf on offer).

Saturday afternoon’s probably looking at a late bumpy peak in the 3-4ft range at south facing beaches whilst Sunday should push a little higher, near 4-5ft by the afternoon (bigger across the Hunter though smaller at beaches not open to the south). If anything, Saturday’s initial kick in size doesn’t look terribly promising for anything amazing surf-wise, but Sunday’s energy looks more robust thanks to a broadening fetch through the lower Tasman that should see stronger surf across the coast. 

All in all, there’ll be waves, but nothing of the quality seen in recent weeks.

Next week (July 6 onwards)

Late Sunday’s size should persist into Monday before easing gradually through the day, under a similar wind regime as per the weekend (early W/SW, tending moderate S/SW). Wave heights will then bottom out on Tuesday morning in the 3ft+ range at south facing beaches (bigger across the Hunter, smaller elsewhere) with early offshore winds keeping conditions clean ahead of moderate southerly breezes. 

An impressive polar low and front will concurrently push through the lower Tasman Sea, reaching Sydney on Tuesday morning, clipping the coast and temporarily freshening winds from the S/SW (again, likely early W/SW) but it won’t have much strength and by Wednesday we’ll be back to light variable winds with sea breezes, that’ll hold through the rest of the week.

This polar low looks really good on the synoptics (see below) and will generate excellent overlapping southerly swells that’ll fill in late Tuesday (Far South Coast) through Wednesday (remaining coasts), holding into Thursday before easing on Friday. Peak surf size should reach 4-5ft+ at most south facing beaches (of course, much smaller elsewhere), but the long periods associated with the core fetch around the polar low should exaggerate wave heights at offshore bombies and other reliable south swell magnets like the Hunter, producing 6ft to almost 6-8ft sets.

So, mid-late next week is looking very promising for some strong south swell and favourable conditions. 

Have a great weekend, see you Monday!


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thermalben commented Monday, 6 Jul 2020 at 7:50am

Pretty inconsistent sets this morning, though there are some decent waves every now and then.