E'ly groundswell replaced by plenty of short range SE swell with winds from the same direction

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 17th Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Strong E swell Mon, with light winds expected
  • E swell holds Tues AM, slowly eases, with mod/fresh S'ly to SSE'ly winds developing
  • Small E swell leftovers in the mix Wed
  • Punchy short range S to S/SE swell building Wed, tending SE and likely peaking Thurs and extending into the rest of the week before easing with SE winds
  • Smaller E/SE swell Sat, slowly easing with E/SE winds 
  • Easing surf Sun, with lighter E'ly winds, possibly offshore early
  • Small E swells Mon-Wed next week with light N'ly winds
  • Slight bigger E swell pulse Thurs


Saturday was in between pulses with 3-4ft of E swell across the region and a brief window of clean conditions on offer before N’ly winds kicked up and reached moderate strength. A S’ly change had to be dealt with Sun morning , with continuing 3ft+ of E swell. Surfed kicked hard in the a’noon with 4-5ft to 6ft+ surf on offer and easing winds allowing for some great surf for the PM session. Strong E swell is in the water today with size varying across the region. Most spots on the 5-6ft range on the sets with some bigger 8ft cleanup sets reported from E and NE facing beaches. All this swell has been courtesy of TC , then Ex TC Cody, the second cyclone swell for 2022, despite being in only the second week of January. Not a bad start to the year, at least swell wise.

Kicking hard Sun a'noon

Solid sets over-powering the beach this morning

This week (Jan 17-21)

Ex TC Cody slipped behind the North Island late this weekend so it’s now dried up as a swell source. Today will be the peak of the swell with a slow roll-off in size tomorrow.  

A trough brings a S’ly change tomorrow , with another strong high tracking south of the Bight poised to be the main weather feature this week. That change is due early morning with a brief window of lighter winds possible further north. Once it kicks in winds should ramp up quickly. Expect leftover 3-5ft surf early slowly losing size and  consistency through the day.  There should be no size penalty getting out of the wind due to the swell direction.

By Wednesday strong high pressure consolidates SW of Tasmania, becoming slow moving with pressure gradients tightening along a broad flank by the coastal trough. That will see fresh S to SE winds develop with these winds extending offshore into the Central Tasman sea. Expect building short period S/SE to SE swell during the day, up into the 3-5ft range by close fo play. There will be some small E’ly swell trains from swell “coming around the corner” of the North Island as ExTC Cody slipped behind the North Island. Also, some small, long period S to S/SE swell as a front associated with Tuesdays change intensified as it tracked across the Tasman. Both of these swell sources will be subservient to dominant short range swell trains. Protection will be needed from the fresh SE winds, with a size penalty to be paid.

That high pressure ridge will stay firmly in place through the end of this week, with mod/fresh SE to ESE winds expected through Thurs and into Fri, possibly easing a notch on Fri. Size should peak Thursday in the 4-5ft range but finding a clean wave will be a challenge with the winds from the same direction as the swell.

 The fetch migrates north during Fri, aiming up more at sub-tropical NSW and SEQLD so to add insult to injury the onshore winds will be accompanied by easing surf to end the week. Expect 4ft surf, easing a notch during the day.

This weekend (Jan 22 - 23)

Pressure gradients finally ease over the weekend as the high begins to lose steam as it moves East of Tasmania and the focus of the ridge moves up into QLD. That should see mod E/SE winds Sat, easing into Sun, with light E’ly winds. It’s more likely Sun morning will have a proper land breeze to start with, but we’ll finesse that on Wed.

Swell wise we’re looking at residual ESE to E swell on Sat in the 3ft range, with a few small S swell trains in the mix. If you can work with the wind and aren’t too fussy about quality there will be waves to be had.

Size drops further Sun into the 2-3ft range, offering up a chance for some peaky beachbreaks if the winds co-operate. Sunday looks the better day for quality as onshore winds ease.

Next week (Jan 24 onwards)

Looks like a much quieter week on the radar next week, after such a hectic start to the year. 

High pressure will still be in the Tasman, though far enough East to be generating a N’ly flow along the Central/Southern NSW Coast. A couple of E swell sources are on the radar. Small, long range E swell generated in the South Pacific supplies inconsistent 2ft surf from Mon, likely persisting at low levels through Tues and Wed. With light N’ly winds expected that promises a few days of fun babyfood on the beachbreaks,  good for learners .

A retrograding trough travels from the North Island back into the Tasman Sea early next week. Models are offering divergent takes on it, so it’s not worth getting too excited about. Under current modelling that should see some 3ft surf from the E by Thurs next week.

Longer term and an approaching complex trough system towards the end of next week is likely to see N’ly winds freshen by the end of next week. GFS model suggests further low pressure development in the South Pacific window near Fiji week after next, indicating our Summer of E swell, modulated by La Nina has further to run before sputtering out.

Check back Wed for a full update.


FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Monday, 17 Jan 2022 at 12:55pm

You keep delivering the swell Steve. Last night was on the pump - went from wind blown crap to smooth and sizey in the space of an hour.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 17 Jan 2022 at 1:03pm

yeah, looked like a good kick in size Fraz. stoked you got some.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Monday, 17 Jan 2022 at 1:51pm

A drive along the coast road is showing a marked difference in size between breaks this swell.

savanova's picture
savanova's picture
savanova Monday, 17 Jan 2022 at 3:28pm

So glad I hit it super early this morning. Local was doing its best indo impersonation. I swear I could smell banana jaffles cooking.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 17 Jan 2022 at 6:46pm

100%. Indo like this morning at my local too rogue sets absolutely pumping in some sections and nothing in other sections of the beach.. watched a battler this arvo low tide, get smashed 6 times taking off and drift 700m down the beach.. didn’t give up though.. I was pissing myself Jesus he coped a flogging..

DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing Monday, 17 Jan 2022 at 7:37pm

Nice to see some Indo comparisons crew. I surfed Cronulla this morning and it was pulsey. Just as forecast. Like 6ft pulse for 10 minutes and even one 8ft ‘tsunami’ caught everyone

DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing's picture
DeathToCompSurfing Monday, 17 Jan 2022 at 7:43pm

So you reckon south Sydney blown out by dawn tomorrow?!


greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams's picture
greg-n.williams Tuesday, 18 Jan 2022 at 2:29am

Sounds like the surf I had Sean! It all looked GR8 till the tide started to drain out off the reef & Mr.Unco (me) went for a few late takeoffs not pulling off one! Then paddled over to another rock reef 500m away & copped the same treatment there! In 2 hrs I made 2 waves (1st & last). Oh well there 's always tomorrow (hopefully)!

MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Tuesday, 18 Jan 2022 at 11:01am

Got a couple of wedges in a spot that was semi offshore this morning down in the Illawarra. Still some odd bigger ones around, got surprised and caught on the inside a couple of times.