Plenty more strong swell energy incoming over the weekend and into next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 4 Mar)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Plenty of strong E swell Sat, with light morning winds, tending NE through the day
  • Slow and slight easing of E swell into Sun with a S'ly change due, SW winds likely early
  • Plenty of E swell into Mon, with a late kick in strong S swell
  • Mix of S and E swell Tues, with an even stronger pulse of S swell PM
  • Very large S to S/SE swell Wed, with strong S'ly winds
  • Slow easing of S swell Thurs into Fri with easing winds
  • Quieter weekend ahead next weekend, stay tuned for details


Wild week this week as a low formed in the trough line and steamed down the NSW coast. This Easterly trough low generated large surf with 10ft+ surf yesterday and strong S/SE to SE winds, suitable only for the most protected and novelty spots. Today has eased a notch into the 8ft range, still overpowering most spots and with water quality severely impacted by floodwater through most of the region. Tons more action this weekend and next week. Expect a condensed f/cast today due to impaired communications, with a return to normal service on Monday.

Still very large in Sydney today

This weekend (Mar 5-6)

No shortage of E swell this weekend, although at slightly more settled levels than the last 48hrs. 

Sat will see plenty of size in the 6ft range, holding through the day.

With high pressure straddling New Zealand and the remnant of the trough lingering near the Mid North Coast we’ll see a light N’ly flow through there morning, with good odds for a light NW breeze for most of the region.

That will tend to light/mod NE breezes through the day.

Sunday now firms on an early morning wind change from the S. That marks the emergence of another major system, as the remnants of the trough/low get re-energised by another upper disturbance being pushed Eastwards by a high in the Bight. More on this later it’ll generate heaps of swell next week once it spins up.

For now, Sunday will see more E swell, in the 5-6ft range through the morning, easing back a notch or two during the day. Expect an early SW flow, with winds tending S’ly through the day. Winds are likely to tend more SE north of Sydney on the Hunter/Central Coast during the day. There should be good options at protected spots, water quality notwithstanding.

Next week (Mar7 onwards)

E swell chugs away into next week as medium range fetches in the South Pacific window continue to supply incoming swell trains.That will see E swell hold in the 4-5ft range Mon. An initial pulse of S swell generated by the trough and a front sweeping up from Tasmania Sun/Mon will see surf build from the S in the a’noon, with size up into the 4-5ft range overlapping the E swell.

That fetch dissipates quickly on Tues, but a new low is expected to rapidly deepen off the Sydney coast on Tues, with gales developing off the coast. That’s likely to see a rapid rising S swell later Tues with size quickly ramping up into the 8ft range through the a’noon along with strong S’ly winds.

Low deepening off the coast from Sydney early next week, brings large S to S/SE swell

Size builds further into Wed, likely into the 8-10ft range from the S. With fresh S’ly quarter winds, it’ll be a day for  the most protected spots only.

Size then slowly eases through Thurs, with plenty of size still expected, as the low slides away to the SE, towards the South Island. We’ll be looking at 6ft surf from the S/SE, with E swell still in the mix in the 3-4ft range. Winds will ease through the day, though stay from the S to SE.

Easing surf then runs from Fri into the weekend with a mix of S and long range E swells. We’ll dial in those specifics when we come back Mon, but a high moving near Tasmania maintains a weak ridge up the NSW coast. Perhaps by next weekend we may see an offshore flow in the morning.

Wow, what a tempestuous start to Autumn!


Check back Mon for a full update and have a great weekend!


Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Friday, 4 Mar 2022 at 4:23pm

Hi FR76 I thought you may have been affected by this flooding when I saw the Wednesday notes weren’t there.
And did I see a TC in the coral sea?

see.saw's picture
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see.saw Friday, 4 Mar 2022 at 5:04pm

Thanks FR. Hope you faired OK in the floods. Nephew and Dad at Ballina. Sister in Lismore. They came out better than most. Feel for everyone up there. And anywhere else affected. All the best.

joesydney's picture
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joesydney Saturday, 5 Mar 2022 at 10:24am

Still a bit too much water moving at Maroubra - some bombs but tough with all the chop. The 8ft top to bottom on the head followed by 15 somersaults under water ended my morning

MrBungle's picture
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MrBungle Saturday, 5 Mar 2022 at 3:46pm

Yeah the sweep across the beaches is pretty hectic. Watched one guy catch a wave and try and paddle back out only to get swept at least 50 meters down the beach in 1 duck failed duck dive through white wash. Big straight east swell is the worst for that.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Saturday, 5 Mar 2022 at 4:52pm

So much paddling and sweep, consistent sets in Manly. Lots of work but worth it.

joesydney's picture
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joesydney Saturday, 5 Mar 2022 at 5:24pm

I heard Nathan Hedge got some bombs?

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney Saturday, 5 Mar 2022 at 9:35pm
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus Saturday, 5 Mar 2022 at 5:27pm

Pumping round my neck of the woods in Sydney this arvo. Looks like the swell is dropping though

joesydney's picture
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joesydney Sunday, 6 Mar 2022 at 6:36am

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Sunday, 6 Mar 2022 at 7:58am

Well, that would be the rain again. One day without rain yesterday, woohoo. Looks like 5 or more days of it with some serious stuff in the mix. Holy hell, can’t remember such a long period of wet.

You can blame me, I took delivery of a new board Wednesday before last. Still hasn’t got wet. Could have had a few very average surfs in chocolate brown or greasy smelly stormwater run-off but just couldn’t do that to a new board.

joesydney's picture
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joesydney Sunday, 6 Mar 2022 at 8:00am

Woke up this morning expecting a light offshore to be greeted by rain and a shit south wind -

MrBungle's picture
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MrBungle Sunday, 6 Mar 2022 at 2:49pm

Cracking surf this morning at my local wedge, 4ft with the odd one pushing 6ft. SW winds early around the Illawarra was a nice surprise.

stunet's picture
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stunet Monday, 7 Mar 2022 at 8:50am

More tropical rainfall totals overnight, falling largely in the southern Illawarra and Shoalhaven.

Kiama - 135mm
Robertson - 129mm

Brogers Creek - 232mm
Wattamolla - 197mm
Foxground - 145mm
Fitzroy Falls - 148mm

Many more stations registered 100mm+, all of them flowing into the Shoalhaven River, the catchment expecting 100mm+ again tomorrow, so expect water levels on that river to rise sharply.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 7 Mar 2022 at 9:09am


stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Monday, 7 Mar 2022 at 10:03am

Few photos from the local beaches. Worth keeping in mind that late summer/early autumn is traditionally when the beaches are at their broadest, the beach profiles built up through months of accretion - small swells pushing the sand back onto the beaches.

This shape offers good protection for when the autumn/winter swells kick in.

This is mid-tide at Thirroul this morning:

Land slump end of Woodland Ave overlooking McCauleys. Not a grain of sand on the 'beach' from the carpark north to Lawrence Hargraves Reserve, just waves eating into clay:

Looking south from the carpark and the beach in front of the showers is gone:

Though the surf was only five or so feet, waves were breaking way out in the bay betraying the presence of all that shifted sand.

Wednesday is forecast to be eight feet but fortunately it's due south and the tides aren't high (approx. 1.50m).

Just gotta get through another day of intense rainfall....and then the coming autumn swells.

jordan.mar's picture
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jordan.mar Monday, 7 Mar 2022 at 1:12pm

Been a while since this has happened, and coupled with the creek flushing out like that too. Noticed the waves still breaking as they enter creek mouths around here, especially the creek at Bulli, near Ruby's cafe

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Monday, 7 Mar 2022 at 2:15pm

The coast is always changing in subtle ways, but I'm wondering if this is gonna be an event that makes a more significant mark on the coast, that people can point to and remark on how it changed the coast in a lasting way.

I've interviewed a few of the old fellas, one in particular who told me how Southy (nee-South Thirroul Beach, now McCauleys) lost thirty or so metres of earth during the May '74 storms, and it never came back. The Water Board removed the dunes to lay a sewage line from Thirroul to Sandon - the line is still there, you can see the outlets - and in so doing they weakened the coast's defences.

The sand that was left over was no obstacle for back-to-back swells which breached the foredunes so waves ate into brown earth. The beach there never returned to normal (twenty years later Kuradji man was found in the same place and I'm sure the events are linked - if the coast wasn't breached his burial spot would never have been found. Another story...).

The May '74 storms also smashed the beachfronts at Manly, Coogee, and Cronulla, permanently altering them.

What's happening right now isn't the same sort of system but, around here at least, the coast is under serious attack from both the waves and excess water run-off causing slippage.

batfink's picture
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batfink Monday, 7 Mar 2022 at 10:37pm

Totally agree Stu. North Cronulla never got back to where it was pre - 1974. Coogee I can’t say because I didn’t know the beach back then. A few places I think won’t be the same, but being surfers some places will be better. Stay safe big fella, another shitload of rain coming in.