Don't put the small wave board away yet, you'll be needing it all week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 21st Feb)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Onshore winds Tues with poor surf
  • Winds back down Wed but still below average surf
  • Inprovement in surf Thurs/Fri with small, fun trade swells and light/mod NE winds
  • Continuing small mixed bag on the weekend and extending into early next week
  • Monitoring the tropics for juicier E swells as depressions/possible TC's form next week, stay tuned


A weekend of weak summer surf with generally surf around 3-4ft out of the south on Sat with improving conditions as S’ly winds lay down. Sunday was a better deal with some small amounts of S swell seeing surf in the 2-3ft range at S exposed beaches, bigger 3ft on the Hunter and light winds. Surf has eased right back into the 1-2ft range with small weak leftovers from the S and a few stray E’ly swell trains providing surf suitable for beginners. Winds are light NW, tending N’ly with a S to SE change expected during the a’noon. It’s not a great week of surf ahead but there is an improving trend later in the week and into the weekend. Details below. 

Good day for beginners

This week (Feb21-25)

A modest (1019hPa) high in the bight is tracking E, moving into the Tasman Sea tomorrow, with a weak trough bringing a S’ly change to the region.  That trough stalls around the Hunter tomorrow, aiming a short, proximate fetch of SE winds at the region before the high tracks slowly across the Tasman Sea during the week.

Surf potential is limited in the short run. Close range SE winds aimed straight at the coast will push up some uninspiring wind-swell tomorrow, with a few longer period S swell trains in amongst it, but it won’t be much. 2-3ft tops, and likely smaller, with straight onshore SE winds, tending more E’ly through the a’noon. 

Wednesday isn’t much better. Winds lay down and tend E/NE, with a period of lighter breezes inshore early but don’t expect much size. Small, long period S swell generated by a front passing through Tasmania   parent low will provide a few 2ft sets at S facing beaches Wed morning before that source dries up. That leaves a weak signal of SE and E swell trains in the 2ft range under onshore conditions.

The latter part of the week will see a NE flow develop, with periods of light NW breezes inshore. Trade flows across the South Coral and Northern Tasman Sea won’t be particularly strong this week but the broad scale coverage of winds will be enough to see a modest building trend into Thurs and Fri (see below). 

Expect a small mixed bag Thurs with a few small S swell trains mixed in with E’ly swell pushing up into the 2-3ft range on the sets. Neither swell source is very strong but together we should see a few fun peaks develop through the day.

More of the same closes out the working week. Friday morning looks likely to be the best window of the week with a light NW breeze and some fun 2-3ft surf on offer. That size will continue through the day with mod NE winds kicking up in the a’noon for the post work session.

This weekend (Feb 26 - 27)

Nothing too amazing on offer this weekend. If you’ve made friends with a good small wave board lately then you’ll be well placed for more of the same this weekend. 

Surf-wise it’s more of the same : mostly E/NE tradewind swell in the 2-3ft range, with some traces of longer period S swell in the mix. 

Saturday should be NE to E/NE wind dominated with lighter winds inshore early. Not hard to recommend the earless the best conditions for the day.

Sunday has a question mark over the winds. A reinforcing high slips into the Tasman later Sat. There is a chance of a trough bringing a S’ly change Sun. Check back Wed for an update on this.

If the trough fails to eventuate it’ll be another day of light/mod NE winds.

Next week (Feb 28 onwards)

It’s quite a static pattern into the start of next week. The high pressure belt will be maintaining a semi-stationary tradewind belt through the Coral and Northern Tasman Seas.

That will keep small levels of E/NE swell chugging along in the 2-3ft range through the start of next week, with continuing NE flow.

A classic summer pattern.

Meanwhile the tropics are showing signs of a more active period through next week.

An active North-west monsoonal surge extending down from Indonesia into the Arafura and Timor seas and out into the Far Northern Coral Sea. Major models have been teasing us for a while now but odds are increasing that we will see tropical depressions form in both the Coral sea and near South Pacific near New Caledonia.

So, while we might have a few more small days to get through next week, likely at least through the middle of next week, odds are increasing for a more substantial E swell event later next week or early March. 

We’ll keep eyes on it and report back Wed.

For now, keep the small wave sled handy.


stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 23 Feb 2022 at 12:02pm

That steady ramp in trade swell size is amazing. Two full weeks of swell from the E/NE each day slightly building on the one before it.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 23 Feb 2022 at 1:07pm

We're rapidly approaching the time to put the small wave boards away and get the step-ups out.