Easing S'ly swells, then a major ECL event next week

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 8th July)

Best Days: Thurs: plenty of S'ly swell (easing Fri) with generally light winds. Sat PM: chance for a small S'ly swell. Tues/Wed/Thurs: very large, windy surf thanks to an ECL.

Recap: S’ly swells eased back to 3ft at south facing beaches on Tuesday, before a series of new swells rebuilt in size today, offering 4ft surf at south facing beaches, bigger across the Hunter in the 4-6ft range. Conditions have been generally clean with light winds. 

Fun lines at Manly this afternoon

This week (July 7 - 10)

Although surf size came in just at the bottom end of forecast expectations today, I’m holding generally steady with the outlook for Thursday as I feel the longer period energy is yet to show properly, and will probably muscle up a little overnight ahead of a gradual easing through the day.

As such, south facing beaches should see inconsistent 3-4ft sets early morning (bigger through the Hunter, though smaller at southern ends), and conditions will be nice and clean with light offshore winds and weak afternoon sea breezes. Expect a slow decrease in size through the afternoon. 

Slightly smaller surf is then expected on Friday in the 2-3ft range at south facing beaches, abating a little more into the afternoon, with much longer breaks between sets. The usual size caveats will apply elsewhere too (smaller southern ends, a little bigger through the Hunter). Again, light winds will maintain clean conditions.

This weekend (July 11 - 12)

Looks like a weekend of generally small surf and light winds maintaining clean conditions. 

A weak easterly fetch atop a modest Tasman high may generate some minor NE swell for our region, but there probably won’t be much in it. Otherwise, we’re looking at some small long period S’ly swell glancing our region during Saturday (probably the afternoon), easing into Sunday, that may lift south facing beaches into the 1-2ft range (bigger across the Hunter) - however most beaches will remain very small indeed, borderline surfable. 

So, keep your expectations low this weekend. If you have to get wet, aim for a reliable south swell magnet - Saturday afternoon looks to be your best window. 

Next week (July 13 onwards)

Looks like the ECL tipped in Monday’s notes is going to eventuate next week (see below). And therefore, we’re looking at some pretty large, windy surf for a few days.

At this stage we’ll have to work around a pretty funky wind regime, which is likely to be (across the Sydney region) freshening easterlies Monday, tending gale force S’ly during the day and then holding from the S thru’ SW from Tuesday into Wednesday and maybe Thursday, depending on how long the low hangs around for.

But, the position of the low close to the mainland will create different wind directions north and south of the low’s axis (near Sydney). Anywhere south from the Illawarra is looking at gale to storm force SE winds, but north of the axis - and this could include the Northern Hunter region (but more likely, the Mid North Coast northwards) a W’ly tending SW outflow. 

Early indications are that this will be a prolonged stretch of very large surf from Tuesday through Thursday, probably maxing out in the 12-15ft range at exposed locations. However the upper end of this size range will probably be concentrated within a narrow band related to the position of the core fetch - likely aimed south of Sydney - where local winds will be an issue. So, there’ll be wide variations in size from coast to coast. 

But make no mistake, this upcoming event will be very large, and will likely max out most coasts - so you’ll be looking for novelty, sheltered spots at the height of the event. 

Let’s see how Friday’s models are resolving this situation, so that we can hone in on specific windows of opportunity.

See you then!


dannyz's picture
dannyz's picture
dannyz commented Thursday, 9 Jul 2020 at 10:55am

picked it like a dirty nose ben! pumping 4-5ft this am

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 6:19pm

Highly unorthodox; 6:15 and no updated Friday surf forecast!

Delayed pleasure.


billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 6:25pm

I often refresh the page at around 5pm to find my prayers answered. HEEEEELLLLP!

I actually went to the physio today becuase of my froth levels. I really want to surtf next week. I missed out on that last swell. It looked a touch B-grade anyway.


Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 6:36pm

"Downgrade" lol