Weak waves, NE swell late in week best bet

James KC

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by James Casey (issued Monday 8th March)

Best Days: Today with fading S swell and Friday onwards with NE swell, best in northern corners.


  • Tuesday last of fading S Swell 2ft+ early smaller into afternoon
  • Quiet period of waves with mostly local swells Wednesday and Thursday 
  • Local S wind swell with S change on Wednesday, chance S pulse late Wednesday/early Thursday 
  • NE swell begins to build from Thursday into Sunday biggest for Sunday 3ft for NF beaches
  • Larger S pulse for next week


Well the weekend of waves certainly kept us busy. The long period nature of it made it a little strange, seeming to miss certain spots while wrapping in and being far larger at other spots you wouldn’t expect it to be. There was a bit of driving and checking to be done if you wanted to make the most of it.

The general trend was a pulse Friday afternoon up around 3-5ft before easing a little late. Saturday it was longer period and a little lully but a solid 4-6ft at S facing beaches staying that way for most the day. Sunday morning was pick of the weekend, the largest swell, generally 6ft+ with magnets seeing 8-12ft, and lightest winds. The low tide seemed to slow things down a little but as the tide started pushing in a little it seemed to pulse again. A NE breeze began picking up in the early afternoon limiting things to S facing beaches. 

Yours truly testing the size out yesterday morning. Picture Credit: John Messenger

The start of the week

Waves ranged from 3-6ft this morning across the region. Smaller for the Illawarra, 3-5ft, and larger up around the Hunter 4-6ft but it is all on a downward trend. Light NW winds early will strengthen around mid morning before instability creates W winds and the chance of storms later in the afternoon. The S swell will be all but gone by tomorrow morning as a S change approaches.

Synoptically we are heading into a quieter period with a weak trough moving up the coast on Tuesday followed by a broad high moving over the southeast of the nation. An inland trough will prevent a decent ridge from setting up while the broad high moves out over the Southern Tasman preventing any decent swells for most of the week.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of it. 

Tuesday we can expect smaller peaky waves with a mix of the easing S swell and a new but more localised NE swell from the infeed of northerlies ahead of the change. Expect light W winds early before the change hits the Illawarra by the mid morning, Sydney by the late morning and the early afternoon for the Hunter. 

When the southerly hits it’s not going to be pretty out there and it’ll only get worse as winds swing around to the SE later in the day, so get out there earlier if you can.

Wednesday we’ll see SE/E winds continue and a S wind swell become the dominant source of energy. It’s not looking like a great day of waves, small and bumpy. 

Thursday early there’s the chance of a little pulse of mid period S energy but it won't be anything more than 2ft. It’ll be short lived but it could coincide with the light and variable winds on Thursday morning. 

Into the end of the week

By Thursday afternoon a stronger NE breeze will pick up and it’ll signify the start of a few days of northerlies and a building NE swell. 

The high will move east towards New Zealand allowing a ridge to interact with an approaching front. Strong and persistent NE winds will build into the weekend creating a growing NE swell. 

I’m optimistic this will bring a few days of fun, peaky waves but am wary that it could bring back blue bottles. It’ll be biggest for the Illawarra but I’d still expect the Hunter and Sydney to get plenty of action. The peak looks to be on late Saturday into Sunday morning.

At this stage, the swell looks like it’ll build to 2-3ft by late Friday and peak around 3ft on Sunday. 

A trough looks like it’ll create some lighter winds around the middle of the day on Saturday. Otherwise it looks like winds will remain out of the NE, generally lighter and a bit more offshore in the morning and stronger more NE into the afternoon. You’ll need to stick to northern corners for this part of the week to get the nicest conditions. 

Sunday will see the light NW winds ahead of a trough and S change. This should create a nice little window with cleaner conditions and the peaky NE swell up near it’s largest. The change should move through around the mid morning for the Illawarra, late morning for Sydney and middle of the day for the Hunter. 

As this S change moves through there’ll be a few fun waves in S corners. Picking up the most of the swell and finally getting cleaner conditions after a few days of NE winds. I’d expect a bit of seaweed and blue bottles initially but it’ll get blown away. 

The New Week

Sunday’s S change looks like it'll be fairly strong and bring with it some decent swell for next week. There’s the chance a low could form off the coast and linger for a while bringing a longer lasting swell event but let’s see how things look on Wednesday.


brownie48's picture
brownie48's picture
brownie48 Monday, 8 Mar 2021 at 11:16am

So good to have it so early, thank you and nice pic!

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost Monday, 8 Mar 2021 at 3:11pm

Is that Mr Casey of SUP and foil fame ? I have a question....what is your record on laps (wave then pump back out onto another wave) with out paddling or falling off ?

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Monday, 8 Mar 2021 at 9:20pm

Props James, quite a solid bottom turn there, but points deducted if it’s a SUP.

Sorry, I have prejudices.

Not sure what to do with the week so 3 or 4 days of rainy, squally, not very good days will allow me to concentrate on non-surfing matters. :-)

Mcface's picture
Mcface's picture
Mcface Monday, 8 Mar 2021 at 9:31pm

Nice one Jimmy, charging there.

For the record I thought you did well with the weekend forecast considering the size was anywhere from 4-15ft depending on where you were.

Got some nuggets at a pair of semi-protected reefs on the south coast. Both extremely packed but great fun when you could jag one. Probably pushing 6-8ft at one with the more protected one at 4-6ft on the Sunday peak by my poorly calibrated estimates. Sat morning was also pulsing early.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 8 Mar 2021 at 9:39pm

On the D.S. ?

Mcface's picture
Mcface's picture
Mcface Tuesday, 9 Mar 2021 at 8:43am

Yep you betcha, after a long hiatus too as it was sitting in the closet with a busted finbox until recently. Still goes a treat, although wouldn't have minded just a couple extra inches on the Sunday as I got held up a couple of times.

The bonzer got a workout too on the building swell Saturday evening. Which is probably the board I've been using the most recently.