Plenty of solid options Sat, easing into Sun with workable waves next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 11th Mar)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Solid but easing S/SE swell Friday with lighter winds
  • Fun S/SE swell Sat, with some E swell in the mix and light winds
  • Surf easing back to small on Sun, extending into Mon
  • Small blend of swells Tues, building to workable E swell during the a'noon
  • Round of workable E swell Wed/Thurs with onshore winds
  • Uncertain outlook from the end of next week, check back Mon for latest updates


Solid S swell yesterday courtesy of a robust low pressure system was in the 6-8ft range early, with fresh WSW winds which tended S’ly through the day. Both swell and wind moderated through the a’noon. That easing trend has accelerated into today as he low has moved away quicker than model expectations. We’re still seeing some 6ft sets on the exposed coasts like the Hunter, 4-6ft at most S exposed breaks,  grading smaller into more sheltered spots. Size is trending downwards and winds are likewise easing. Water quality remains impacted by floodwater and storm-water run-off. 

Still unruly on the Hunter this morning

Settling down through most of the f/cast region

This weekend (Mar 12-13)

The Tasman low is now transiting under the South Island, with a long band of high pressure tracking through the Bight and expected to seed a large high pressure cell into the Tasman over-night and into tomorrow. That will set up a weak ridge of high pressure along the Central NSW coast over the weekend. 

Surf-wise Saturday sees a good chunk of leftover S/SE swell through the morning, easing during the day. The low deepened as it approached the South Island suggesting a reasonable spread of  still strong 4-5ft surf is on the radar, with some bigger 6ft sets on the menu for the most exposed coasts like the Hunter. Light E’ly winds overnight Fri should tend to land breezes in the early morning leading to clean conditions with a bit of leftover bump and wobble at exposed breaks. Those winds will tend to light/mod E’ly sea breezes during the day. Expect a small amount of E’ly swell in the mix, adding a few 2ft sets to the equation. There should be plenty of fun options around on Saturday.

High pressure moves out into the Tasman over the weekend giving a more NE angle to the synoptic wind. There won’t be much strength in it, so a morning NW breeze is highly likely before winds clock around to the NE during the day, likely in the mid-late morning. Longer period S/SE swell should provide 3-4ft sets through the morning, with the small amount of E swell adding to the potential for fun beachies. Traces of longer period E swell and long period S swell should add surf around 2ft during the a’noon, potentially 2-3ft at S facing beaches, offering up fun options out of the wind. There should be plenty of good options Sun, especially out of the expected NE breeze.

Next week (Mar14 onwards)

The next high pressure system moves into the lower Tasman Mon, at a very southerly latitude, even by La Niña standards (see below). 

Surf heights should bottom out in the f/cast region, with light winds and a small mixed bag in the 1-2ft range. Light winds will make looking for a surfable peak worthwhile if you are on the hunt for a surfable wave.

Small areas of troughy low pressure linger in the Tasman next week, adding a bit of oomph to E’ly winds generated by the large high. In addition, a fetch out of Cook Strait later Sun into Mon will add a few small E/SE swell trains into the mix. This should see a building trend through Tues. After a small start in the 1-2ft range surf will start to ramp up into the 2-3ft range. Don’t expect too much in the way of quality with E’ly winds kicking up through the day.

This building trend continues into Wed, with an E’ly swell- moreorless a tradewind swell due to the extreme southerly position of the dominant high- getting up into the 3ft range. Again, expect workable swell with no great quality embedded in a light E’ly flow. 

This swell carries into Thurs, slightly easing during the a’noon as the E’ly fetch loses steam.

Into the end of next week and the weekend and we’ve got some divergent scenarios from major models. The American GFS model suggests an approaching front Fri, with a low passing south of Tasmania and bringing a S’ly change and S swell later in the weekend. Longer range model runs are hinting at the low reforming in the Tasman.

The European model (EC) is suggesting the blocking high will remain slow moving into the end of next week, with lingering E to NE swell and NE winds into Fri, possibly leading to an increased load of NE windswell later Sat into Sun as a trough system approaches from the West.

We’ll flag these scenarios for now- with so much continued instability in the Tasman, Coral Seas and interior it’s likely these model scenarios will be substantially revised on Mon.

Check back then for the latest updates and have a great weekend.


jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar's picture
jordan.mar Saturday, 12 Mar 2022 at 9:44am

Bigger than forecast in Wollongong today. Easy 6-8 ft bombs still. Very south but some easterly sets

mark-or-skate's picture
mark-or-skate's picture
mark-or-skate Saturday, 12 Mar 2022 at 6:33pm

Chunky 4+ sets in mona vale late this morn. Was me and 2 others out. I saw a big fish in the peak of set. About 20 meters away. The other two were closer so had a really good look. As soon as they saw, both of them start paddling for the shore. So of course i followed, we all got the same wave in we could all see the shark in the wave as we caught in. Pretty sketchy to say the least. Be careful out there... when i got in the lifeguards were saying a 4 meter gw have been hanging out in the area since the rains..