Extended run of great surf right across the region
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 31st July)
Best Days: Great waves for the entire period. Hard to pick a best day!
Recap: It’s been a complex couple of days of waves in Southern NSW. Residual S’ly swell maintain 3ft sets at south facing beaches on Thursday, building a little into the afternoon with a combo of new E/NE and S/SE swell to 3-4ft at most open beaches. We’ve seen size hold this direction out of the E/NE and S this morning, however the more significant (though brief) pulse of swell mentioned in Wednesday’s notes appears to have not showed as much as expected (though, this is a little odd as SE Qld and Northern NSW did see the expected strong pulse - even though the fetch was aimed towards Southern NSW!). So in short, Thursday came close to expectations size-wise though today’s a little smaller than forecast, Early winds have been light offshore both days ahead of redeveloping southerlies throughout the day.
This weekend (Aug 1 - 2)
We’ve got a great weekend of waves ahead, with a combo of swells and generally light variable winds both days.
The models have slightly realigned the developing Tasman Low (responsible for the current S/SE swell component) out of our swell window compared to previous runs, so I’m going to very slightly peg back wave height estimations for Saturday’s peak out of the S/SE. South facing beaches should pick up 4-5ft sets whilst the Hunter (and other reliable south swell magnets) may see occasional 6ft+ bombs.
This S/SE swell will be strong, but very inconsistent as the energy will glance the coast at an angle. So, it’ll be a little less reliable than most swells from this direction and not every beach will pick up the energy properly. Expect wave heights to ease slowly through Sunday, though early morning should still offer 3ft+ sets at south facing beaches.
In addition to this S/SE swell, we’ll also have a steady supply of E/NE swell from a broad fetch that developed through the north-eastern Tasman Sea and into the South Pacific earlier this week (generating the energy currently in the water). This fetch is still active in our swell window and will continue to generate swell for quite a few more days.
Model guidance suggests this swell will reach a peak later today and then ease slightly overnight, before levelling into the weekend. So, the most likely scenario is 3-4ft sets at some point both days, though there may be occasional long lully periods of smaller surf.
Note: these estimates (S/SE and E/NE swells) are more than double the automated, model-generated surf forecast, which is forecasting just 2ft this weekend (it’ll definitely be a lot bigger than this).
Get into it!
Next week (Aug 3 onwards)
The E/NE fetch on the eastern flank of a broad Tasman trough - containing the Tasman Low - will actually strengthen over the weekend though very gradually retreat to the east (see chart below). This should maintain steady E/NE swell through Monday and Tuesday, before easing slowly from Wednesday.
Again, the model guidance really isn’t liking this swell too much but I reckon we’ll see occasional 3-4ft sets at times through the first half of the week, and there might be a brief period of slightly higher surf in the middle (most likely very late Mon or early Tues). Light winds Monday will freshen W/NW on Tuesday and Wednesday as a deepening cut-off low approaches from the south-west.
This low is expected to enter our south swell window on Wednesday morning, with a thin fetch of S’ly gales just off the Tasmanian coast that could generate a significant S’ly swell overnight Wednesday and into Thursday - though the model guidance is quite divergent right now, so we need a few more days to firm things up.
Either way, the longer term outlook is shaping up for a succession of strong polar lows/fronts to advance through our south swell window and it’s likely wave heights will become quite elevated out of the south later next week and into the weekend.
More on that in Monday’s update. Have a great weekend!