Improving NE swell into the end of the week and weekend

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed Sep 29)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small S'ly swell trains Thurs, only showing at S exposed beaches
  • NE windswell event holding into Thurs
  • Better quality ENE swell Fri, holding Sat with a reinforcing pulse Sun and mostly offshore winds
  • S  swell Tues PM next week, with a stronger pulse Wed
  • Likely easing surf through end of next week but instability continues, stay tuned for revisions


Not a great deal on offer since Monday’s notes. A small, scrappy amount of NE windswell has supplied low quality but surfable options in the 2ft range, slightly bigger today. Small amounts of long period S swell are in the mix on the Hunter coast and select S facing beaches, adding some inconsistent 2-3ft sets into the mix, bigger 3ft+ on the Hunter. Generally speaking N’ly winds have been a notch below forecast speeds, which has led to better surface conditions but smaller amounts of NE windswell. 

This week (Sep 27-Oct1)

Northerly winds and an unstable atmosphere remain the dominant themes, with a large high now drifting close to the North Island and an approaching trough and inland low starting to tighten pressure gradients adjacent to the NSW coast. This will see continuing N’ly winds, with NE windswell predominant, increasing in quality as the trough moves offshore Friday, bringing a more W’ly pattern for the weekend and improving surf.

A couple more days of N’ly winds are ahead, with mod/fresh N’lies on again tomorrow, tending more N/NE in the a’noon. Short period NE windswell in the 2ft range, should pop up another notch into the 2-3ft range as the fetch lengthens and broadens off the NSW coast. Small, long period S swell trains from a zonal fetch passing well to the south add a little extra energy, adding up to some 2-3ft sets at S facing beaches, though this will be slow and Lully. 

By Friday the proximate fetch of N’ly winds will move further offshore as the trough approaches. This is likely to see winds tend NW, then N/NE before becoming variable in the a’noon as the trough moves over the region. This offers up a chance for some fun beachbreaks to close up the week, with quality improving as the wavelength draws out and size bumps up a notch into the 3ft range. Well worth your attention if you can get to the beach.

This weekend (Oct 2-3)

Weekend's still looking good, with NE/ENE swell being generated by the slow moving fetch feeding into the trough and a basically W’ly wind pattern. 

The fetch remains active over the weekend, although slightly weaker compared to earlier model runs. Compensating for lower windspeeds will be a broad coverage of wind from the Northern Tasman, up into the Southern Coral Sea. This should see plenty of fun peaky NE swell in the 3ft range and with W’ly winds on offer most of the day a heap of options to choose from. Weak seabreezes might puff up later in the a’noon Saturday but they shouldn’t affect wave quality too much. 

Light offshore winds continue Sunday as the trough continues to linger in a roughly NNE/SSW axis through the Tasman sea, and an inland low drifts offshore from Bass Strait/Tasmania. It’s an interesting pattern for October. 

We’ll leave a little wriggle room for wave heights Sun, with models showing some divergence on windspeeds as they feed into the trough. That offers some further upside potential for the basic 3ft+ size range expected, especially into the a’noon, as period bumps up a notch. It would be unlikely to be much more than a boost into the 4ft range on the sets. Again, we are looking at all day surfing on Sunday with a possible light, late Seabreeze not affecting wave quality too much.

Next week (Oct 4) and beyond

Unstable pattern continues into next week, with a low drifting East of Tasmania and the trough in the central Tasman also possibly forming a weak surface low. This broad area of complex low pressure is expected to drift south, with a diminished surf potential compared to Monday’s notes.

ENE swell Mon morning is likely to keep surf humming in the 3ft range, before that source dips down during the day. Winds look to be NW before another W’ly change as a front passes through. 

A stronger front passes through Tuesday, likely seeing gales out of Bass Strait and fresh W to WSW winds develop. This is likely to see a late kick in S swell Tuesday before a stronger S swell Wed, as pressure gradients tighten between a high moving in from the Bight and the broad area of low pressure in the lower Tasman. We’ll finesse wave heights on Fri, but early indications are for 3-4ft of directional S swell Wed, with a synoptic W to WSW wind through the region. 

The trend looks to be down from mid next week- but with so much instability and troughiness continuing it’s likely we’ll be up for constant revision during this period. There's nothing concrete on the radar but the chance of a weak surface low forming off the Central NSW coast late next week is a possibility.

Check back Fri and we’ll run a fresh ruler over it.




Tim Bonython's picture
Tim Bonython's picture
Tim Bonython Wednesday, 29 Sep 2021 at 5:46pm

Ho hmmm, ho hmmm..

jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar Thursday, 30 Sep 2021 at 7:18am

Well at least there's waves to spend the lockdown long weekend :)

MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Thursday, 30 Sep 2021 at 5:05pm

Seeing some improvements on the cams this arvo. Definitely picked up and longer period sets coming through around home.

brownie48's picture
brownie48's picture
brownie48 Friday, 1 Oct 2021 at 11:10am

Weird swell direction this morning, seemed really east but east friendly spots were not that big compared to south spots but the angle of it all was maybe ese?

MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Friday, 1 Oct 2021 at 11:59am

I know what you mean, maybe a combo of the S swell and the building NE swell on the low tide this morning made it seem that way. It was a bit straight and mostly shutting down at my local.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 1 Oct 2021 at 1:14pm

Yeah a mix of inconsistent S'ly groundswell from under the continent again and building ENE energy. Manly was mostly 3ft but there were 4ft bombs for the patient late morning.

Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Friday, 1 Oct 2021 at 1:59pm

Yeah weird on the coaly too