Extended run of E swell ahead with some windows of good winds

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 10th Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Slight late bump in E/NE swell possible Tues (Wed more likely)
  • Increase in pulsey E/NE swell Wed, holding Thurs with light winds all day
  • E/NE swell boosts a notch Fri with fresh NE winds, holds Sat with NE winds
  • E/NE swell down a notch Sun, rebuilds later Sun with more E'ly direction with light/variable winds 
  • E swell holds into Mon, slowly easing Tues
  • S to SE swell possible Wed, stay tuned for details


A few small waves over the weekend with Sat seeing the biggest surf with surf around 3ft at most exposed breaks, a bit tattered by last weeks constant onshore flow, which persisted into Sat. Sunday saw an easing of surf and with a S’ly change options were restricted. A few small 2footers were on offer at protected breaks. Size has dropped further into today with a weak 1-2ft signal from the E and light winds, now tending NE. Another round of E/NE swell is on the menu this week with a couple of brief windows in amongst the onshore flow.  Read on for details. 

Small and weak to start the week off, more energy ahead from Wed

This week (Jan 10-14)

Our current synoptic pattern is typical of the season and the La Nina end of the ENSO cycle. High pressure straddles New Zealand and a tropical low now is drifting south from between Fiji and Vanuatu towards the North Island. A long E’ly fetch associated and strengthened by that combination will be the main swell source for the East Coast this week. More prominent in the north of the state but strong enough to extend to the southern border. 

A tropical cyclone off the North QLD coast will not be a swell generator as it tracks inland to reform in the Gulf of Carpenteria, basically the reverse track of TC Seth. A trough extending off the NSW South Coast now looks poorly aimed and positioned compared to Fridays notes but will likely supply a small amount of SE swell mid week before it moves south, intensifying the the N’ly flow along the region later this week.

Short term and we’ve got a couple of very quiet days surf-wise for the f/cast region. With today and Tuesday seeing only small, weak surf in the 1-2ft range, suitable for beginners. Winds will be light/mod NE, possibly NW inshore early, so it’s best early if you are keen for a grovel. 

Keep an eye out on a small increase late Tuesday (Wed is more likely) at the more reliable NE swell magnets. That could see some bigger sets as the first swell trains of the new E/NE swell show up.

Wednesday has some potential. A S to SE change is due as the trough approaches, and once again, this trough is due to stall somewhere on the Hunter Coast or offshore from it. That gives reasonable odds for a window of light winds, likely NW before the wind switches. Surf will bump up a notch from the E/NE with some fun 2-3ft surf on offer. Once the wind kicks in it’ll be protected spots only for a clean or semi-clean wave.

The trough quickly weakens and stalls, leading a large area of very weak pressure gradient over the region Thurs morning. That should see light land breezes Thurs morning- the best wind outlook for the week - with continuing fun 2-3ft surf. It does thicken up during Thurs as longer period swell trains make landfall, with 4ft sets expected to fill in,and with light seabreezes on offer during the a’noon, you’l want to pencil in Thursday if you’ve got flexibility in the schedule.

Winds freshen from the NE to end the working week as a large high slips into the Tasman and quickly feeds into the decaying trough system. Mid period E/NE swell holds in the 3-4ft range, with a slight bump in heights on offer during the a’noon. Expect mod/fresh NE to NNE winds from lunch-time.

This weekend (Jan 15 - 16)

Plenty of E/NE swell for Sat with continuing NE winds as the N’ly pattern continues. The mid-period E/NE swell will be mixed in with some shorter period NE windswell with all sources providing surf in the 3-4ft+ range, likely coming down a half notch in the a’noon. 

Sunday looks a bit tricky to call this far out due to the wind outlook. It’s likely we’ll see the long lasting E/NE swell starting to drift downwards through the morning as the swell source, although there’s high likelihood of 3ft+ surf Sunday morning. Longer period more E’ly swell is likely to kick back up slightly in the a’noon. Another weak troughy area coming over the region is likely to see winds drop out, possibly tending light SE to E. We’ll finesse the wind f/cast on Wed.

One caveat for the weekend f/cast is if the low tracking southwards from the South Pacific to New Zealand stalls or changes direction we could get an upgrade or downgrade, depending on the speed and direction of movement. Best case is a stall near the North Island .

Next week (Jan 17 onwards)

In case you didn’t get a swing at it, next week begins with more of the same E/NE-E swell. Models currently show a slight period kick later Sun- and even if we have to revise this later in the week- it’s a good sign that Mon will kick off with more of the same 3-4ft swell. Light winds look good as the weak trough lingers over the area.

That trough should track over the region Tues, bringing S to SE winds. With E swell holding in the 3-4ft range.

Models diverge next week with EC showing a surface low forming E of Tas by the middle of next week, generating a S to SE swell from mid next week.

GFS sits the trough over the Sydney/Hunter coast, with SE winds aimed up into the region and generating short range SE swell.

With both models showing the next high pressure system located well to the south of Tasmania into the start of next week that is likely to see an onshore flow across the region, most likely from the SE. 

Tropical developments look more focussed on WA/NT after all the activity has been in our longitudes for the last fortnight.

Check back in on Wed and we’ll run the ruler over it again.


DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing Monday, 10 Jan 2022 at 2:15pm

is there an article i've missed on why this La Nina summer has been so BAD compared to last years?? going nuts here on the southside

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 10 Jan 2022 at 2:18pm

Been really fun north side but with wind protection. I guess it's a fine line between having wind protection and fun, consistent swells. It also depends where the highs align and troughiness sits, and it looks like the current setup is a little less favourable with a more north-easterly bias. Still we're getting lots of southerly changes or variable winds which aren't usually common in summer.

Also last summer was really good. This summer has provided plenty of energy from the east but not the most ideal winds for some locations.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 10 Jan 2022 at 2:23pm

It's a fine line, not much further north winds have been a lot more favourable.

vbabin's picture
vbabin's picture
vbabin Monday, 10 Jan 2022 at 6:32pm

In the future with crowd ramping up everywhere night surfing is gonna be the go, almost always clean or offshore overnite and plenty of empty peaks

greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams Tuesday, 11 Jan 2022 at 11:23am

Also plenty of SHARK activity @ Night!

jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar Wednesday, 12 Jan 2022 at 9:19am

Yeah you can have your night surf, I need my legs for work...