La Niña Summer goes out with a bang- heaps of wind and swell ahead
Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 25th Feb)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Fun small surf Sat with light E'ly winds as trough lingers on the South Coast
- Increaing E/NE trade swell Sun, with more light E'ly winds, lighter on the South Coast
- Days of Chunky E/NE to E swell from Mon, with E'ly winds, tending more NE from Wed
- Stronger, longer period E'ly swell on the weekend with lighter winds
- Slow easing from next weekend
More unstable weather and swell from the Eastern quadrant over the last 48hrs. Surf has generally been in the 2-3ft range through yesterday with light NE winds. Size has ticked up a notch to 3ft today with winds from the NE through E/NE, generally light through the morning. It’s been scrappy but surfable with some windows of lighter winds on offer around rain showers and storms.
This weekend (Feb 26 - 27)
Our La Niña summer is going out with a bang. Moist E’ly winds are still being fed into the East Coast, with a large area of tropical low pressure over the Coral Sea and multiple troughs all linked to the Monsoon Trough providing an extremely unstable atmosphere.
The deep E’ly flow extends from the tropics down into the Central Tasman Sea, maintaining a constant signal of E swell over the weekend and into next week with a general building trend. Onshore winds? Yep, plenty of that too, unfortunately.
Slight upgrade to the weekend swell forecast. Swell from the E- E/NE is already in the 2-3ft range and will hold at similar sizes through Sat, slightly bigger 3ft at more exposed coastlines.
Sunday sees swell start to build as larger E’ly swell trains make landfall. Expect surf to build through the day up from 3ft into the 4ft range.
Winds will be the biggest factor.
The trough we spoke about Wed is now expected to only brush the Far South Coast briefly today but it should disrupt the E’ly flow, especially from the Illawarra Southwards, and more likely South of Jervis Bay. Elsewhere were are looking at a light/mod E’ly flow that will waver around SE/ENE and have pockets of lighter winds-particularly on the southern half of the f/cast region. There should be workable pockets of winds through Sat, but don’t expect anything groomed by offshore winds.
Sunday repeats the dose wind-wise, with some wide-spacing in the isobars allowing lighter winds in amongst a general E’ly flow. Again, don’t expect perfection but there should be pockets of workable winds all day. A more variable flow is expected South of Jervis Bay.
Take home: if you’re not too fussy you’ll find plenty of surfable options this weekend.
Next week (Feb 28 onwards)
Lots of action next week. We’ve got a stack of strong E to E/NE swell incoming- with some model variability suggesting we’ll need some further fine tuning next week.
The basic building blocks of the pattern are a strong high pressure belt cradling multiple low pressure systems in the Coral Sea and South Pacific- essentially creating a huge, multi-centred low pressure gyre through a vast area of ocean to our east. The upshot is multiple fetches of E’ly winds aimed directly at the East Coast. Onshore winds will be a feature too.
Monday sees surf build into the 4-6ft range across exposed coasts like the Hunter, slightly smaller elsewhere, with lightest winds early morning. These winds will tend E to E/NE through the day but at this stage look like staying light enough to keep surfable options open. Expect plenty of chunky, albeit scrappy surf. Lighter winds should be found on the South Coast.
A trough or low centre is expected to push south from the sub-tropics later Sunday into Monday, energising the E to E/NE fetch and seeing wave heights hold on Tues, in that 3-5ft range, with some bigger 6ft sets possible on the Hunter. More of the same E’ly flow, lighter inshore early. Areas north of Sydney Harbour are most likely to have a morning land breeze, but it won’t last long.
Wed and Thursday we’re expecting the direct onshore flow from the E/NE to NE freshen as the brunt of the fetch pushes closer to the coast. They look like being wild and wooly days with plenty of mid period E swell in the 4-6ft range, and onshore winds in excess of 20 knots.
Into the end of next week and the weekend and winds should finally start to ease, possibly by Friday although EC is slightly more optimistic than GFS on that score. A NE flow Friday will be accompanied by more of the same 4-6ft of E swell .
The weekend looks more promising as far as conditions improving. Swell should muscle up too, as a result of wind speeds increasing along a broad fetch, as low pressure centres within the gyre press down on the cradling high pressure ridge.
That should see longer period E swell in the 6ft range through Sat, and into Sun.
We should see light winds of some kind on the weekend, and possibly a S’ly change Sun.
Longer term and this run of swell finally quietens down early in the week 7/3, with a front in the Tasman suggesting a small pulse of S swell during that period.
A windy, swell filled start to Autumn is on the radar.
Check back Mon for a fresh update and have a great weekend!