Pleasant conditions and surf this weekend with potential for large, unruly surf from mid-next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 6th May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Fun clean beachies Thurs, easing Fri/Sat
  • Slight perk-up in E swell Sun, hanging in at small, fun levels Mon/Tues
  • Building S'ly swell Sun, peaking o'night then easing Mon
  • Onshore winds becoming estabished Tues, with potential large, unruly E/NE swell building from Wed into the weekend. Stay tuned for updates.


Inconsistent 2-3ft surf supplied fun surf yesterday morning under light NW winds before a S’ly change made things messy. This morning we have a clean(ish) mixed bag of 2-3ft surf from the E/NE with a smattering of S swell. Winds are light offshore with a touch of S’ly bias making open S facing beaches a bit wind affected. All in all, some fun waves to end the working week. A very dynamic period lies ahead. Let’s try and make sense of it. 

Nice, fun in the sun day to end the week

This weekend (May 7-8)

No great changes to the weekend f/cast. A complex low forming over Tasmania today is forcing a large high north, bringing a  W’ly flow to the region through Sat. The low remains slow moving through Saturday, effectively outside the swell window.

The low will slowly drift off to the E through Sun, which will see the W’ly flow tend SW through S’ly in the a’noon.

Surf-wise Sat will see a continuation of small, inconsistent E swells, topping out around 2ft at most exposed breaks. With offshore winds there will be some nice, groomed small waves on offer, if you can find some good bathymetry to make the most of it.

Sunday starts small under groomed, offshore conditions. Expect a continuation of 2ft sets. By late morning, possibly lunch-time we’ll see a slight muscle up in E swell courtesy of a mid week flare up in Tradewinds. It won’t be anything to get too frothed up over, just a few 2-3ft sets.

Later in the a’noon we’ll see a building trend in new South swell, as the low near Tasmania gets active in the swell window. This increase is likely to be accompanied by winds tending SW through S, which will mean S facing beaches will get wind affected as the swell hits. Keep expectations pegged for Sunday a’noon. 

Next week (May 9 onwards)

Very dynamic pattern on the cards for next week. Models are in broad agreement so we’ll sketch out the broad scale pattern and finesse the details as they unfold through next week.

A large high now in the Bight, which is forced north over the weekend, tracks SE early in the week to be just E of Tasmania Monday. That high will set up a ridge through the week and essentially be the “anvil” for any trough or low pressure development in the Tasman or Coral Sea. A coastal trough off SEQLD/Fraser Coast and interior upper trough combine through the start of next week to increase SE/E winds, initially in the Coral Sea.

That gives a window of light winds Mon, the last day before onshore winds start to kick up in temperate NSW. Get in Mon morning for S swell, which should peak at 3ft across most of the region, with bigger 4ft sets on the Hunter, padded out with some small E swell in the 2-3ft range.

Onshore winds will start to kick in Tues, although morning winds will remain light with small leftovers in the 2-3ft range, biggest at exposed breaks. 

By Wednesday the region will start to come under the influence of the stronger E’ly pattern being generated by the large high and impinging troughs. That will see increasing E to E/NE winds, likely pushing up into the 20knot range, with a developing short range swell from the same direction. That should see surf start to build through the day up into the 4-5ft range, although with straight onshore winds it’ll be tough finding a wave of any quality.

The rest of the working week looks wild (see below). Models do begin to diverge on specifics which will impact size and quality. GFS has the more bullish outlook, with a trough or potential surface low forming off the Fraser Coast and tracking south through Fri13th- energising a long E to NE fetch through the Central Tasman to Coral Sea. In effect, it’s a slightly less energised version of the June 2016 Black Nor-Easter set-up. That will see increasing E/NE swell through Thurs/Fri likely pushing up into the 6-8ft range and possibly holding at that size over the weekend. A trough brings a S’ly change Sun, after days of E to NE wind.

EC offers a more conservative outlook with a broad coverage of E to E/NE winds through the Northern Tasman and Coral Sea but with lower windspeeds than GFS. Thats still expected to produce plenty of 5-6ft surf at a minimum from Thurs/Fri into next weekend, with winds from the same direction before the clearing change late Sat or Sun.

Long story short, get ready for a period of large, unruly surf from the E/NE with onshore winds from Wed next week. 

Also, there is scope for wave heights to be substantially revised upwards if we do get more of a Black Nor-easter set-up.

No doubt there will be revisions on specifics as we get closer to the event so check back Mon and we’ll take a fresh look at how it’s shaping up.

Seeya Mon and have a great weekend!



FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Friday, 6 May 2022 at 4:41pm

Far out - so sick of watching nice swell crash on the shore. Just 0 banks at Cronulla. Can't get any worse so hopefully this swell does something for us. Even jumped in the car and drove an hour or so - scored some great beachies with only a small crowd - seems like a lot of places except here are blessed with sand.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Friday, 6 May 2022 at 7:00pm

Cronulla banks are so bad ive pretty much given up surfing even on a
foamy. Nothing breaks only on the shore line. Its just gone back to
what cronulla beach is famous for. Crap as.

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 10:32am

We had a great run for two - three years Evo - reminded me of what is was like when I was a teenager and we had sandhills. Back to normal now - think the car will be getting a few kms.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Friday, 6 May 2022 at 10:22pm

“ Fun clean beachies Thurs, easing Fri/Sat”

Friday morning the best day of the week at the local. Was out every morning this week (woohoo) and it was much the same all week, clean 2’ plus but Friday had twice as many waves coming through, and slightly bigger if anything. Thursday was the quietest day for sure.

Just reporting. Sydney eastern beaches.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 7:12pm

Crazy was opposite here. Pulsed to 3ft Thursday. Slow as 2ft Friday.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Sunday, 8 May 2022 at 6:44am

Sorry got mixed up. Make that Wednesday and Thursday.

see.saw's picture
see.saw's picture
see.saw Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 3:55pm

Where would that colourful blob SE of NZ send swell? Tahiti, Trestles? Hawaii even?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Saturday, 7 May 2022 at 4:08pm

Yep, all them.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Sunday, 8 May 2022 at 5:12pm

That synoptic for next week is quite reminiscent of the black nor easter Freeride. Just lacks that fierce low spinning on the west side of the high, and isobars not as straight as a few years ago.

Amount of inland rain on top of everything else they’ve had is amazing. Central Qld to regions south of that. The inland rivers going to be topped up again. Think there are a million pelicans and other birds inland right now from earlier rains.

Inland country seeing amazing conditions.