Small, flukey surf ahead before another strong S swell next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 11th August)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small, weak S pulse Fri, possibly surfable at S facing beaches
  • Very small S swell pulse Sat, slight increase Sun favouring S facing beaches
  • Small S swell pulse Mon, easing through the day
  • Solid S swell event expected next Tues/holding Wed, easing back Thurs.
  • Quieter period ahead from next weekend


Capping off an enduring run of swell from the southern quadrant, yesterday saw plenty of fun 3ft surf across central/southern NSW, from the SSE/SE, with light W through NW winds in the morning providing clean conditions. Winds kicked up from the North during the a’noon, confining surf to more south facing corners. This morning we’ve got a small but surfable mix of clean 2-3ft leftovers, with a smattering of small NE windswell in the mix. Slightly bigger, peaky 3ft surf on the Hunter. Clean conditions early deteriorated with the arrival of freshening pre-frontal N’ly winds.

This week (Aug 9-13)

Not much change from Wednesday’s notes. We still have an unseasonably strong high drifting in the Tasman, now close to New Zealand, generating N’ly winds and an approaching weak cold front, expected to impact the south-east of the country overnight Wed.

A shallow trough in advance of the front sees winds quickly clock around from W/SW through S/SE tomorrow after a period of NW winds in the morning. Don’t expect much swell to work with though. We’re in mop up mode from the current SE swell and the dregs tomorrow from this source are likely to be in the  2ft range. NE windswell will pad out open stretches with some small 2ft sidewinders. To be honest, if you’ve been clocking up some go outs it’s more of a lay day. Desperadoes will  find the odd surfable peak at open stretches in the late morning/ lunch time window before the winds clock around to the S and SE during the a’noon.

Friday likewise, looks very small and weak. Synoptic W’ly winds will establish in the wake of the trough and frontal passage into the Tasman so conditions will be clean but we’ll be looking at babyfood with a tiny blend of easing, refracted S swell from the frontal passage early Thursday likely topping out with the odd 2ft wave at S facing magnets. Just worth a look to wash off the working week but bring a big board and low expectations to a S swell magnet unless you’re on the Hunter coast where an extra foot is likely to make for some fun surf. Expect mostly tiny/flat surf away from magnets through most of Friday.

This weekend (Aug 14-15)

Slight downgrade for the weekend as a polar low and front passing well to the south of Tasmania on Fri 13 now looks less favourably aligned for the NSW coast. It’s still a very deep low , 950 hPa, but with a very heavy W’ly bias in the fetch and a slight wobble to the S as it passes through the Tasman sea swell window. Sat morning offers small S swell leftovers, from an overnight pulse generated by a parent low from Thursdays frontal progression. It's a flukey source fetch and the timing is wonky but it's worth hunting around Sat morning for a few 2ft leftovers, bigger 2-3ft on the Hunter.

Traces of longer period S swell Sun, while losing energy from wrapping close to 180 degrees  from the source fetch, should hold S facing beaches in the 2ft range, bigger 3ft on the Hunter coast. Light morning land breezes from the WNW will tend to light NE seabreezes so conditions will definitely be favourable for a small, fun wave if your expectation are pegged low. 

Next week (Aug16 onwards)

We get a downgrade for the weekend and an upgrade for the following S swell. The very active Southern Ocean pattern reaches a crescendo late Sun into Mon with an intense, complex polar low which becomes slow moving as it enters the Tasman sea swell window. The result is a long, broad fetch of severe gales from 55S up to Tasmanian latitudes Sun , extending even further south late Sun into Mon with a more favourable SSW tilt in wind alignment in the fetch. 

This is on track to deliver several pulses of juicy S’ly groundswell early next week. 

Monday maintains a small mix of S swell trains leftover generated from the passage of the deep low underneath Tasmania on Fri, with the width of the source fetch compensating for the poor wind alignments. This flukey source is likely to produce some continuing 2-3ft surf across S facing beaches in the Sydney basin, but really favours the Hunter coast with it's slightly more NNE/SSW coastal alignment. This should see clean lines in the 3-4ft range throu Mon morning in the Hunter.

Tuesday is a different story. Much stronger S swell in the 4-5ft range at S facing beaches is expected to be in the water at first light. With the front pushing north into temperate latitudes expect some S in the winds, likely WSW early, tending SW then SSW through the day. That’ll scuff up the Hunter coast where surf is expected to push well into the 6ft range through the day. Expect smaller surf away from S facing coasts, where cleaner conditions will prevail. A secondary pulse of longer period S swell is likely to push in late Tues, with plenty of 4-6ft surf at S facing beaches, though with likely S’ly component winds it’ll force a size sacrifice to get cleaner conditions.

Wednesday looks really good to great. Powerful S swell in the 3-5 ft range, bigger on the Hunter with clean conditions as light offshore breezes re-establish through the region, spell a great day for spots with S swell exposure. Expect a slow easing through the day, though with plenty of size through to close of play and light SE/NE seabreezes likely in the a’noon. 

Thursday should have plenty of fun leftovers from residual Tasman sea energy, likely 3ft, 3-4ft on the Hunter and a more W through WNW morning flow, which will suit S facing coastlines perfectly. 

A downwards trend continues through Fri and into next weekend with small S swell likely padding out the working week. 

Longer term and the flukey ice shelf fetch mentioned on Wed looks a non-starter. A period of suppressed swell activity in the southern swell window is on the radar, suggesting a much quieter period ahead from next weekend and into the week starting 23/8. More on this in Fridays f/cast notes.


shwetakumar88's picture
shwetakumar88's picture
shwetakumar88 Wednesday, 11 Aug 2021 at 3:11pm

How acute is the swell direction from the south?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 11 Aug 2021 at 3:19pm

which swell pulse?
they are all acute S.

Longer period Sun/Mon and Tues/Wed will see a better "apparent" direction.

shwetakumar88's picture
shwetakumar88's picture
shwetakumar88 Wednesday, 11 Aug 2021 at 3:33pm

Sorry just querying likelihood of south coast beach exposure south of Ulladulla given the swell direction ? Any east in it

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 11 Aug 2021 at 4:51pm

pretty shadowed by Cape Howe south of Batemans

Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2 Wednesday, 11 Aug 2021 at 4:35pm

2 longtom wrap in a day. Love ur work.

sdizzle80's picture
sdizzle80's picture
sdizzle80 Wednesday, 11 Aug 2021 at 5:05pm

Hope a bit of swell will reset the local banks

jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar Thursday, 12 Aug 2021 at 8:32am

Damn, first weekend I can get in the water since my back hasn't been water tight. Guess I'll have to wait a little longer :( Happy Lockdown ;(