James KC

Relatively quiet end to the week with some summery swells

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by James Casey (issued Wednesday 24th February)

Best Days: Friday early with 2-3ft NE swell and S wind change. Saturday/Sunday with light winds and 2-3ft of S swell. 

Recap: 2-3ft E/SE swell with S/SE winds today making a more manageable day of waves. Southern corners the best for smoother conditions.


  • Local NE swell for Thursday with strong NE wind ahead of S change
  • S change to move through Friday early, tending SE as day goes on, nice little leftover NE swell south wind combo early. 
  • S/SE swell from low and trough associated with change to deliver 2-3ft of S swell arriving late Saturday beginning to ease Sunday
  • S/SE swell Tuesday with S change moving through early and continuing into the middle of the week providing 3-4ft waves from the S

End of the Week

Well it’s been a wild ride since December with plenty of solid swells hitting our coast, a dynamic summer to say the least. Over the next week we seem to be entering into a bit of a quiet period.

This last swell definitely moved some sand around so it’ll be interesting to see what your local banks look like now. How this next round of smaller, more localised stuff fairs, with the amount of movement that has gone on, will be interesting. 

Enough dwelling on what has been, let’s get into what’s ahead of us.

NE winds are set to strengthen ahead of an approaching S change, whipping up a nice little 2-3ft NE swell. It feels like a while since we’ve had this more summer-like setup occur so enjoy the weaker summer waves. Let’s hope the blue bottles don’t make a return but there’s every chance they will. 

The S change will move through early on Friday with the Illawarra and Sydney region blowy before the sun rises. The Hunter on the other hand will see a little wind ahead of the change, right around dawn, where you could see some light offshores prior to the change arriving. Could be a nice little window of opportunity for the early risers. 

The NE swell will begin easing on Friday and with the S winds blowing it’ll be best to head to your NE swell magnets. You’ll enjoy a nice little combo of cleaner conditions and whats left of that 2-3ft NE swell. 
All in all pretty lacklustre compared to the past week of waves but it’s something and will provide more options than what the last pulse of solid E/NE swell did, maxing out most locations. 

Into the Weekend

That more localised NE swell will be gone by Saturday, while a new S/SE swell begins to make its presence felt.

This new pulse of swell will be generated by a trough and low out in the Tasman, associated with Friday’s S change. Again nothing of any decent magnitude just 2-3ft of S/SE swell filling in late Saturday, peaking overnight and beginning to slowly ease by Sunday.

With light winds forecast for much of the weekend there’ll be options around for the weekend warriors. Sunday is looking a little windier as a NE seabreeze begins to build into the afternoon but there’ll be plenty of time for a surf or two in the morning. 

The New Week

Not much action for the start of the week with just the dying SE swell and a very weak NE wind swell from the NE seabreezes Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday will see yet another S change move through, this time a bit stronger, with an associated low that squeezes the isobars against the coast. It’ll whip up 3-4ft of S/SE swell but the winds will limit us to protected southern corners where less swell will be getting in. 

These winds will persist for a few days without much reprieve so suss out a bank in a southern corner, you’ll need to get used to it. 

Otherwise there’s not much else going on. A distant tropical low, to the east of NZ may provide the odd 1ft of inconsistent E swell from Tuesday onwards. At this stage it looks too far south, meaning New Zealand will block most of the incoming swell. Even if it was better aimed it would be super inconsistent. Don’t get your hopes up. 


gm14's picture
gm14's picture
gm14 Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 9:47am

any chance we could get a "Swellnet Analysis" type explanation on why the water is so warm at the moment? i'd guess 23 degrees around Newy,

i would have thought we'd be more in for an upwelling type event given the conditions the last week or three rather than the opposite.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 11:38am

Upwelling is from strong, persistent north-east winds, which we haven't had much of at all this month, or summer.


So temps have been great and warm from the East Australian Current flowing down from the north. As per normal without upwelling.

gm14's picture
gm14's picture
gm14 Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 12:11pm

you're worth more money mate.

SamD83's picture
SamD83's picture
SamD83 Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 3:32pm

Where was the call for todays (Thursday) awesome 3-5ft ENE swell? Drop the ball?

James KC's picture
James KC's picture
James KC Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 3:44pm

The ENE swell was mentioned, even had an image showing you what was going on, but the local infeed of E/NE winds was stronger and better than expected. Meaning more swell, especially for the Illawarra, which saw waves in the 3-5ft range with the longer fetch. Add in the pre-existing active sea state, with that E swell lingering, and you get the extra size. The ENE swell in itself is probably in that 2-3ft range but add in an extra 2-3ft of E swell and you've got your 3-5ft.  

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 3:51pm

Looks like the satellite pass showed a very healthy local fetch.

Also James is only a week in Sam, cut him a bit of slack ;p

SamD83's picture
SamD83's picture
SamD83 Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 9:28pm

All good, I'm super fortunate to be flexible so had 4 sessions at a quality wave to myself. Was mainly curious as to the extra size, keep up the good work.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 25 Feb 2021 at 9:44pm

Yeah stoked, great day of surf!

barrytheblade's picture
barrytheblade's picture
barrytheblade Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 6:25am

No harm in under calling it, not many on it for the early