Another wild week ahead as a low forms off coast tomorrow, bringing plenty of wind and swell (again)
Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 7th Mar)
Forecast Summary (tl;dr)
- Mix of S and E swell Tues, with an even stronger pulse of S swell PM and strong SW winds developing around Tasman low
- Very large S to S/SE swell Wed, with strong SW to S'ly winds
- Slow easing of still large S/SE swell Thurs into Fri with easing winds
- Small blend of E and S/SE swells Sat, smaller Sun, with light winds both days
- Small E swells through next week, building into Wed/Thurs
Lots of swell energy over the weekend as E’ly swell from mostly medium range sources made landfall. Saturday saw size in the 6-8ft range with a light N’ly flow, easing into Sunday with size in the 4-6ft range and S’ly winds confining clean conditions to more protected locations. Today has seen a more onshore E/SE to SE flow with residual size in the 4-6ft range across the region, smaller 4ft on the Hunter. Another highly active week is ahead, dive in for details.
This week (Mar 7-11)
An unstable, troughy pattern persists across most of the East Coast with a large (1027hPa) high near New Zealand anchoring a long S/SE fetch from the South Island to Central Tasman Sea. This fetch provides a pulse of S to S/SE swell before another low forms in the trough line off the NSW Central Coast Tues, rapidly re-invigorating a robust S to S/SE fetch off the South to Central Coast before slowly drifting off to the SE later this week. This fetch is enhanced by a pressure gradient squeeze with another strong high currently moving East in the Bight. Meanwhile, out in the South Pacific a sub-tropical low is deepening well E of the North Island and while this low is better aimed at the sub-tropics there will be some longer period E swell arriving from this source.
In the short run, and a dynamic day is on the cards for tomorrow as the low spins up. Major models seem in broad agreement that the low centre will be just North-east of Sydney, driving an initial burst of onshore E to E/SE winds along the coast. These winds may tend more W to NW from the Hunter Northwards, but it’s going to be dependent on the position of the low.
North of Seal Rocks is a much higher probability for offshore winds during Tues, especially during the morning.
Plenty of leftover E swell in the 3-5ft range is expected, along with S/SE swell from the current fetch in the 4ft range.
Expect conditions to rapidly become wild and woolly as S/SW to SW winds intensify to strong wind, possibly low end gale status.
Wild and wooly conditions continue to escalate Wed as the low deepens with gales to severe gales developing along the NSW coast south of the Mid North Coast. These gales extend northwards during the day, further enlarging wave heights. How big? Expect surf in the 6ft range during the morning to push up into the 10ft range during the day. With strong to gale force SW to S winds, it’ll be a day for the most protected locations only.
The latter part of the week sees surf slowly easing as the low moves away towards New Zealand. Thursday will be big from the S, with surf in the 6-8ft range. Better angled swell trains from the S/SE generated by a long fetch of S/SE winds feeding into the low will arrive during the a’noon. This will help refraction into more protected spots, which will still be needed due to mod/fresh SW to S winds. They’ll be moderating during the day.
By Friday we’ll see a more pronounced easing trend in play, with surf dropping down from 3-5ft down to 3-4ft, bigger on the Hunter. Light morning winds will tend to light SE to E breezes in the a’noon. There’ll be an underlying E swell in the water too, with some 3ft sets in the mix. With a settling trend in wind and surf there should be plenty of fun options Fri, as long as you can deal with some less than optimal water quality.
This weekend (Mar 12-13)
Small blend of swells expected this weekend.
The dominant S/SE swell should hold some 3ft sets through the morning on Sat, easing back further through the day, with small amounts of mid period E swell in the mix. Light E’ly winds are expected, with a good chance for a morning land breeze. Expect plenty of fun beach breaks, sand banks permitting.
Sunday drops back further, to be one of the smaller days for a fair while, in what has been an extended period of elevated wave heights. A new high pressure system slips east of Tasmania on Sunday, setting up a weak ridge, which will see light E’ly winds continue. Surfwise we’ll see longer period E’ly swell from the South Pacific supplying some infrequent 3ft sets early, with leftover S/SE swell in the 2-3ft range. All sources will ease through the day, leaving surf below the 2ft mark for the first time in quite a while!
Next week (Mar14 onwards)
A more settled week ahead next week, by the standards of the last few weeks anyway. The basic blocking pattern of high pressure in the Tasman maintains a light onshore flow across the region, with good odds for land breezes to develop overnight into Mon.
We’re looking at a small blend of long range E’ly swell and some leftover S/SE energy through Mon into Tuesday. Both sources will top out around 2ft on Mon, with a slight uptick on Tues.
Expect small fun beach breaks both days.
By Wed we have a broad area of low pressure drifting down from the sub-tropics to keep an eye on. It looks quite weak and lacking structure this far out, with a weak but well aimed fetch of E’ly winds likely to kick wave heights up a notch during Wed and into Thurs.
Longer term and troughiness in the Tasman Sea offers up potential for more low pressure development later next week, although it’s too early to offer any definitive assessments.
Check back Wed for a full update.