Small surf next week as tame Summer blocking pattern sets up

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 21st Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Smaller E/SE swell Sat, slowly easing with SE winds, lighter inshore early 
  • Easing surf Sun, with lighter E'ly winds, lighter inshore early
  • Small E swells Mon-Wed next week with light N'ly winds
  • Slightly bigger inconsistent E swell pulse later Wed into Thurs with light N'ly winds
  • Looks like a quiet period of more typical summer surf ahead short/medium term as tropics becomes less active
  • Still watching the tropics long range for tropical storm development, check back Mon for latest update


Plenty of short range SE swell has been in the water since Wednesday but quality has been low due to strong winds from the same direction. Size was in the  3-5ft range yesterday, smaller at protected spots and had now eased back into the 3ft range today, slightly bigger 3-4ft on the Hunter. Winds have moderated a few notches as the high pressure surge worked it’s way north to more sub-tropical latitudes. 

A far cry from the long lines of Mon, but still surfable

This weekend (Jan 22 - 23)

Large (1031 HPa) high pressure is now drifting just east of Tasmania, with a smaller reinforcing cell well below the Bight. This is maintaining the ridge of high pressure along most of the East Coast, with a slight and slow easing of pressure gradients  expected over the weekend. An active Monsoon Trough lays across the North of the Continent extending out into the Coral Sea.

Lets look at winds first. No great change for the outlook there: SE winds both days, with a chance of window of lighter SSW breezes early morning, more likely north of the Harbour. The ridge looks to strengthen a touch Sunday so keep expectations low for any quality.

Surf-wise the short range SE swell will clock around slightly more to the E/SE on Saturday and be joined by a small amount of mid-period S swell , spreading back to the East Coast from S’ly winds extending up into the Tasman near the South Island and the parent low which passed through the lower Tasman Sea window. Expect size in the 2-3ft range, bigger 3ft on the Hunter, easing back a notch during the day. Smaller and cleaner surf at more protected locations. 

Swell from those sources eases further into Sunday, back into the 2ft range. Protected locations should offer some clean babyfood for beginners and big boards, but keep expectations low. A small trough of retrograding low pressure has a compact fetch of strong winds associated with it as it moves SW over the weekend from sub-tropical to temperate latitudes. There’s a chance of a modest late boost in surf Sun a’noon, back into the 3ft range but Mon is a better bet for this swell. 

Next week (Jan 24 onwards)

Summer blocking pattern to continue into next week, with a couple of small E swell sources offering up fun beachbreaks potential. 

Light winds Mon should see land and sea breeze effects kick in, with a small E swell in the 2-3ft range, kicking up a touch into the 3ft range during the day. There’s still some slight model variability on this small trough of low pressure, with EC suggesting a slightly stronger system so there is room for some upside movement in wave heights. Nothing requiring a board change though, possibly another foot added on. Check the comments over the weekend, if anything changes drastically we’ll update there.

Size holds in the 3ft range Tues morning with a light N’ly flow, and the swell trending downwards during the day.

High pressure remains slow moving through next week, and weakens. That should see more a classic summer surf pattern develop with N’ly winds, fresher NE seabreezes and small, weak beachbreaks. 

A slight kick in size is expected late Wed into Thurs from a distant tropical depression chugging away in the South Pacific over the weekend. This will be very inconsistent by the time it reaches the f/cast region with some 2-3ft sets expected out of the E. Expect long waits for sets and not many waves in a set and choose surf spots accordingly. 

Into the medium term and surf is expected to drop right away into next weekend, with small weak surf below 2ft on offer. 

Another monsoonal surge is expected across the top of the continent into the Coral Sea and near South Pacific with some suggestions of low pressure development in the New Caledonia area by next weekend. Surf potential is currently unclear but we’ll flag this for now and check back Mon and see how it’s shaping up. Looks like some good ding fixing days ahead.

Have a great weekend!


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Friday, 21 Jan 2022 at 9:50pm

morning surf check terrible..wrote the day off , heard it swung offshore after 1ish was a different day had 2 hrs of clean 3ft peaks incredible great day very unexpected..

Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Saturday, 22 Jan 2022 at 4:09pm

Eh an offshore wind on the east coast
Tell him he’s dreamin!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Sunday, 23 Jan 2022 at 12:35pm

Long-range looking juicy!

Beggsie's picture
Beggsie's picture
Beggsie Sunday, 23 Jan 2022 at 2:28pm

Not if you look at Victoria
Worst run of wind no swell combo fir a long time