Plenty of chunky NE swell and wind ahead this week, improving on the weekend

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 9th May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small mixed bag Tues with onshore winds becoming established
  • E/NE swell starting to build later Wed, becoming solid Thurs and muscling up further through Fri/Sat, easing Sun
  • Winds mod/fresh NE through this period, potentially improving Sat, with offshore winds Sun, stay tuned for updates


Plenty of super fun surf over the weekend with generally light winds and sunny skies. Sat saw the smallest surf with E swell in the 2 to occasional 3ft range and light winds. E swell picked up a touch Sunday into the 3ft range, with a few bigger sets and light winds providing excellent conditions. A late pulse of S swell has added to the E swell overnight and this morning we’ve got a mix of S swell and E swell in the 2-3ft range, with bigger 3-4ft surf on the Hunter. Clean conditions early are being marred by S’ly winds as the kick up. 

Tasty peaks on Mothers Day

This week (May 9-13)

Fairly wild week ahead, although compared to Fri’s f/cast notes the event is now more QLD focused. A large high is now moving into the Tasman Sea and strengthening- that will be the main synoptic feature this week- setting up a deep ridge and a strong E’ly pattern through the Tasman Sea. Further north an interior upper trough and potential coastal trough/surface low will combine to drive an intense E/NE to NE wind flow through the Coral and Northern Tasman Sea. It hasn’t got the horsepower of the 2016 Black Nor-easter swell but we are still in for a few days of stiff onshore winds and solid E/NE swell before a clearing change brings favourable winds for the weekend.

In the short run E swell pads out Tues, with S swell rapidly dropping out of the mix. Conditions start to deteriorate after a brief window of light winds inshore early as the ridge sets up and E’ly winds begin to kick in. There will reach mod/fresh strength through the a’noon, so get in early if you’ve got a go out in mind. Surf heights should remain subdued on Tues, around 2ft through the morning, probably tickling up a notch through the late a’noon but with poor quality.

Poor quality surf then extends through Wed with E’lies really kicking in and tending NE through the a’noon. Surf will build through the day on Wed but heights will remain subdued due to the fact the main body of the fetch hasn’t really reached temperate NSW. Expect surf to build into the 3-4ft range late in the day.

Thursday is where we see surf really kick in. The fetch matures, covering most of the Northern Tasman and Coral Sea with E’ly winds. That will see strong E/NE swell build through the day in temperate NSW. Expect size to build from 4-5ft up into the 5-6ft range during the day. It’s going to be far from perfect with fresh/strong NE winds. More of a raggedy, juiced up windswell type of day. There will be some traces of long period S swell from storm force polar low passing under Australia but this won’t amount to much more than a few 2-3ft sets and to be honest, it’s not enough of a signal to stand out from the noise apart from a few rare locations.

There’ll be a subtle but noticeable improvement Friday. Period will increase as the swell thickens up- with plenty of chunky 6ft surf on offer from the E/NE-NE. An approaching trough should see the wind back off towards the N/NE to N, possibly even NNW later in the a’noon. That should see improving surface conditions at northern corners and a good, albeit still raw way to end the working week. 

This weekend (May 14-15)

There’ll be heaps of surf this weekend from the strong E/NE swell although we are expecting an easing trend as  a surface low off the Fraser Coast concentrates the fetch more into the sub-tropics, before it fizzles out at that latitude. 

Surf quality will hinge on the timing of the approaching trough, which brings a clearing offshore flow. 

Saturday sees the biggest waves with solid 6ft surf from the NE, easing a notch during the day. Models differ on the timing of any wind change with potential for N to NE winds through the morning to swing more NW or even W/NW in the a’noon. Thats still a maybe at this stage, so we’ll finesse that on Wed. 

Sundays winds are more locked in and look fantastic. Light W/NW to W winds should be on offer all day. Plenty of surf, biggest in the morning with leftover 4-5ft waves, but on a steeper easing curve by the a’noon, likely ending up a much more sleepy 3ft by close of play. 

Next week (May 16 onwards)

A more traditional May week ahead next week with some South swell on the cards. A frontal progression with complex low centres pushes into the Tasman Mon to start the week. That should see small surf Mon with offshore winds and a potential late kick in S swell. 

Stronger S swell is on the cards for Tues with size in the 3-4ft range, bigger 4-5ft on the Hunter. Winds look light as high-pressure drifts over Central NSW, although we may see onshore winds kick in during the day.

Looks like high pressure in the Tasman next week leads to more settled conditions and a stanza of smaller surf through mid/end of next week.

More frontal activity strongly suggests the S swell window will remain active later next week, although nothing major is indicated at this stage.

We’ll also keep eyes on a small, elongated trough through the Northern Tasman Sea that could supply some small ESE swell later next week.

Check Wed for the latest update. 


Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2 Monday, 9 May 2022 at 8:30pm

Upwelling event?

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Tuesday, 10 May 2022 at 5:30pm

This is more a feb - March forecast.. not in May.. looking forward to what ever happens should be fun