Wild week of wind, rain and swell ahead
Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon28th Feb)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Days of Chunky E/NE to E swell from Mon, with E'ly winds, tending more NE from Wed
- Possible window of W'ly winds later Wed PM, as low lingers offshore from Sydney
- Stronger, longer period E'ly swell on the weekend with lighter winds
- Possible SE swell early next week
Generally light winds over the weekend supplied some fun windows of surf. Size in the 3ft range Sat, built a notch Sunday into the 3-5ft range. Light winds have extended into this morning with a slight easing trend continuing and surf in the 3-4ft range. Water quality has been impacted by rainfall and conditions are expected to deteriorate over the next 48 hrs as a coast hugging low moves south from sub-tropical NSW, where it has caused historic flooding. Details below.
This week (Feb28-Mar4)
Blocking high pressure straddles the south-east of the continent with centres near New Zealand and Tasmania. This is maintaining a deep E’ly flow, with coastal troughs and a surface low off the NSW North Coast, now moving South. Another tropical depression near New Caledonia is in the process of re-invigorating a long E’ly fetch in the South Pacific corridor, with plenty of E swell on track from this source later in the week. It’s an incredibly dynamic outlook as the close range source and more distant E swell source overlap this week.
In the short run, and onshore winds from the E, will tend SE through tomorrow, freshening through the day and confining surfable spots to the most protected locations. Expect surf to build from 3-5ft up into the 4-6ft range, grading smaller into more sheltered spots.
Wednesday is going to be a very gnarly day in the f/fast region. Latest modelling shows a southern cell of a multi-centred coastal low approaching the Hunter Coast during the day. Solid E swell from a proximate fetch of gales off the coast is expected tp push up up into the 8ft , possibly bigger during the day as the low approaches. Wind outlook is highly fluid, depending on the position of the low centre. Strong SE to NE winds are on the table, with a W’ly outflow likely on the northern flank of the low. At present this W’ly outflow is more likely across the Hunter and lower end of the MNC (Seal Rocks) during the a’noon. Stay tuned for updates and keep tabs on local winds. It’s going to be a wild day.
Thursday is far from set in stone, as far as local winds go. EC maintains the low centre off the Sydney coast , with offshore winds from the Sydney Basin northwards, and strong onshore winds to the south of the low. GFS washes the low out and re-establishes a broad E/NE flow over the area. Surf-wise, there’ll be lots of solid E swell in the water. Likely 8-10ft on exposed coasts, smaller in more sheltered areas. Surf quality Thurs is very much dependent on how the coastal low behaves with a wide range of outcomes on offer.
Friday should see a more general E/NE to NE flow establish as the coastal low continues to track south and/or washes out. That will leave an angry, onshore sea, with plenty of strong 6ft E swell still in the water.
The takeaway this week is there is the possibility of small windows of more favourable winds possible, but they will be fleeting and unreliable. Tons of swell will be on hand.
This weekend (Mar 5-6)
While the coastal low is bombarding the coast with swell this week the more distant South Pacific fetch will be moving into the swell window. Longer period E/NE to E swell from this source is expected to hold plenty of size on Sat, with sets in the 6ft range on offer. A general mod/fresh NE flow is expected making wind protection a must. If you can find a headland to tuck in behind there’ll be plenty of swell energy to play with.
That strong swell energy from the E, carries through at similar levels through Sun. GFS model maintains the strong NE to E/NE flow, adding one more angry onshore day to the mix. EC model suggests a much lighter NE flow as a trough hovers around the South Coast. That gives us some hope at this early stage of a cleaner day Sunday while all this strong E swell is in the water. Stay tuned for updates.
Next week (Mar7 onwards)
There’ll be no lack of swell to carry us through the first half of next week, but conditions will still require some settling down.
The sheer amount of energy in the ocean from near and far sources is going to see E’ly swell hold in at least the 4-6ft range into early next week, with only a slow easing trend in place through the first half of the week. We’ll deal with the specifics of that easing trend as we move through the week.
The much bigger curve ball is a prospective trough forming in the Lower Tasman off the South Coast as a new high pressure tracks well South and East of Tasmania early next week.
EC model suggests the trough will form an angular NW-SE line extending from roughly Sydney latitudes towards the South Island. Under that scenario we’ll see a broad coverage of SE gales form along the trough line, generating a pulse of SE swell through early next week.
GFS maintains a NE flow until Wed with a much weaker S’ly change occurring then.
E’ly swell trains from the South Pacific source slowly fade after mind next week which will likely see this incredibly active, stormy start to Autumn enter a more subdued phase.
Check back Wed for a fresh update.