Strong south swell eases through the week with the next one on Sunday

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon Oct 25 )

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • ENE swell peaks Mon, easing back Tues combined with S'ly swell and easing winds
  • Strong S'ly swell Tues easing Wed with light winds Tues and Wed AM
  • Small S swell Thurs, small NE windswell Fri
  • Another round of S swell likely Sun as low moves into Tasman Sea


Quite a tricky weekend, with Saturday seeing leftover E swell, topping out around 4ft on the Hunter and grading smaller 2-3ft at most other places in the region. Clean conditions early with light winds which tended N’ly and freshened through the day. A S’ly change Sunday saw conditions deteriorate with generally small crappy leftovers, which built in size later in the day, from the both the S and E. That combination E and S swell is in the water today, with size in the 3-5ft range, and a window of light winds and cleaner conditions, now deteriorating as winds get up from the SE. Pretty much a typical pattern for this Spring.

This week (Oct 25-29)

In a sense this week’s f/cast is quite straightforwards and clear cut (for a change!). The current synoptic pattern is a low pressure system E of Tasmania directing a fetch of SSW to S  gales adjacent to the NSW South Coast. This low then eases as it moves out into the Tasman sea later today. As it does, we’ll be left with an easing signature of S swell, which will carry us into the middle of the week, before a few days of small NE windswell before another low is expected into the Tasman this weekend generating another round of S swell.

S swell is expected to peak through tomorrow, with a pulse of slightly longer period swell lifting wave heights up into the 4-6ft range at S facing beaches, bigger 6ft+ on the Hunter and some select S facing exposures. Leftover E swell from Mondays pulse holds some 3ft sets before easing during the day. A lingering S’ly airflow will back off with potential for a period of SW winds through the morning, but a bit of leftover S’ly surface texture is likely on more exposed coasts. So don’t expect pristine surface conditions. With pressure gradients slackening a period of light/variable winds is then likely before a light E’ly Seabreeze in the a’noon.

The trend is then downwards through Wed as we get into mop-up mode for this current round of S swell. Early 3-4ft sets at S facing beaches, bigger 4ft on the Hunter will slide downwards through the day, likely ending up around the 2-3ft mark at S facing beaches, slightly bigger 3ft on the Hunter. A northerly pattern becomes entrenched on Wed, as a weak high at sub-tropical latitudes drifts off NSW and an approaching complex inland trough and frontal system approaches from the interior.

It’s not a particularly tight squeeze and the resultant N’ly fetch off the coast looks weak and disjointed so we’re not expecting any great NE windswell potential at this stage. We’ll take the low road for now and hope for an upgrade on Wed.

In the context of this Spring, Thurs and Fri don’t have lot to recommend. The northerly pattern will be well entrenched so expect dawn to dusk N’lies, possibly with a window of lighter NW winds early, more likely Fri.

Easing S swell Thurs should supply a few 2ft peaks at S facing beaches. Not much elsewhere.

Friday is almost pure small NE windswell. On current modelling, size in the 1-2ft range is expected. And its weak, low period stuff, so you’ll need to be keen and bring a good groveler or big board to get moving. For the first time in a long while, the end of the working week does not bring any aquatic bliss.

This weekend (Oct 30-31)

The headline feature this weekend is yet another low forming in that window of Tasman Sea just east of Tasmania as the inland trough and front exit the interior. Thats expected to occur, overnight Fri or early Sat, bringing freshening W’ly winds through Sat morning. Those winds will likely see surf very tiny and offshore but there a couple of flukey swell trains possible which could see some 2ft surf if you need a slide. Depending on the timing, winds out of Bass Strait early Sat may see some small S swell later Sat. Some long period S swell from the Southern Ocean and stray S swell from a low which passes quickly through the swell window Thursday might provide a rideable wave, but its flukey stuff and no meaningful size is expected. Winds should tend S’ly by close of play Sat. Check Wed to see if any of these get an upgrade.

Sunday is a very different story. S swell from the fetches slingshotting around the low will see pulses of S swell likely build aggressively through Sunday. Models are being quite conservative with size estimates in the 3-5ft range at S facing beaches, bigger 4-6ft on the Hunter. With the current instability in the Tasman sea and the fact that similar systems have seen surf over the 6ft mark at several well known S swell magnets in NSW, we’ll use those estimates for ball park figures and be open to upgrading if windspeeds behave like similar systems in the recent past. S’ly winds will likely constrain surfing options away from maximum size anyhow so lets come back Wed and see how it is shaping up. 

Next week (Nov1) and beyond

November starts in familiar fashion: a low pressure system east of Tasmania generating S swell for the region. That’s likely to see a solid S swell for Mon 1/11, topping out around the 5-6ft range at S swell magnets in the Hunter, smaller elsewhere.

A large high pressure system is then expected to move into the Central Tasman, suggesting a period of light onshore winds through the early part of next week and easing swells. 

A polar low passing through the Southern Ocean Sun/Mon 31/10-1/11 has potential for a small pulse of long period S swell mid-week, before a likely NE flow begins to develop along the NSW coast, with potential for NE windswell from the middle of next week.

Very low confidence in long range forecasts due to the instability in the Tasman so check in Wed for a full and fresh update. See you then. 


evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Monday, 25 Oct 2021 at 4:17pm

Good solid south swell this afternoon. Hope it holds for tomorrow
with offshores.

Wyre's picture
Wyre's picture
Wyre Monday, 25 Oct 2021 at 5:11pm

Evo, sorry to ask, are you somewhere south of Sydney? Because I'm seeing and hearing the swell really kicking right now (I'm in the Illawarra)...Fingers crossed, might get a session in at a fickle big wave spot in the morning.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 25 Oct 2021 at 4:18pm

Your neck of the woods seems to be really getting the lions share of these swells Evo.

Peter12's picture
Peter12's picture
Peter12 Monday, 25 Oct 2021 at 8:13pm

Haven’t seen any of this ENE swell you have been mentioning, I’m near Cronulla and it’s been south for a while

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 25 Oct 2021 at 8:16pm

I think the new S swell overpowered it today Peter.
looked to be on the bouys and cams.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Monday, 25 Oct 2021 at 10:51pm

Wyre south end of Sydney magnet for south swells at certain reefs.

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021 at 12:16pm

Did you beach or reef yesterday Evo? Very solid on beach in sense it was a hell of a paddle to get out, not many good ones and a lot of work to stay in spot. Looked to me like the E swell yesterday had a fair bit in it, as well as the South. Very big today.

MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021 at 9:13am

Some solid sets in the illawarra this morning at my local. Quality wasn't too good with the low tide and a bit of a wobble on it from yesterday afternoon. Would have been great if there was a stronger offshore blowing.

Wyre's picture
Wyre's picture
Wyre Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021 at 2:01pm

Yep, tried surfing a south magnet bommie, plenty of 8 ft sets. Breaking all over the shop, I ended up getting caught inside and sent packing. Then got smashed on the rocks coming in and almost broke my finger(s). Not the best session.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021 at 1:33pm

Well what a disappointment today turned out to be onshore for
starters and smaller than yesterday morning. Evo was skunked
this time. Surfing can be the most frustrating sport especially
when your amped. Has the swell turned more east.
FrazP surfed a certain Island yesterday. Maybe the one on todays
wave of the day.

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021 at 10:39pm

I was watching shark island cams around 9-10am Monday and there were some bombs coming through!

john_c's picture
john_c's picture
john_c Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021 at 10:36am