Cleaner days and solid surf ahead as complex low slowly drifts across the Tasman Sea

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 6th July)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Plenty of size from SE-ESE Thurs with fresh SSW to S winds, possibly opening up more protected spots
  • Easing in size Fri with improved winds- WSW-SW for most places in the f/cast region
  • Smaller but clean Sat under all day W’ly winds
  • Strong S/SE groundswell Sun, biggest in the PM, with fresh SW to SSW-S winds
  • Size holding Mon with improving winds- likely W'ly (lower confidence on winds-check back Fri)
  • Clean, with easing but still sizey surf Tues
  • More S swell later next week, as cold fronts push into the Tasman
  • Dynamic, troughy outlook continues, stay tuned for updates


More stormy conditions for the region since Mon as severe weather continues to batter the coast. Strong onshore winds from the SE have been on the agenda and a large storm surf, in the 6-8ft range yesterday and slightly smaller today. Mostly academic because just about everywhere is off limits due to onshore winds or degraded water quality. There is an improving trend in sight for the end of the week. Read on for details. 

Cleaner days are coming- not there yet

This week (July 6-8)

You couldn’t get a more “perfect” La Niña winter synoptic set-up if you tried. A massive cloud-band enveloping most of the Eastern Seaboard, tied to a complex low pressure system in the Tasman, and strong high pressure system with both systems slow moving. Multiple trough lines also complicate the situation, leading to uncertain movements of the main low, and development of secondary low pressure centres, of which one is expected to form off the Mid North Coast today. As noted on Mon, this is playing havoc with weather models. 

There is a clear trend now in sight though, with the main low centre expected to move away from the Coast through tomorrow, as another trough pushes through the region. By Friday the low will have moved far enough away for conditions to improve.

In the short run and the reinvigorated low, trough and another strong high pressure moving in the Bight tightens the coastal pressure gradient through Thurs, leading to a freshening of SSW to S’ly winds. These may tend SW later in the day as the whole system moves SE into the Tasman. That does potentially open up a window at sheltered spots but it’s far more likely to still be very ragged and wind affected, with size holding in the 6ft+ range.

Winds tend more true SW Friday, likely more W/SW inshore. We’ll see a noticeable easing in size, as the majority of the strong E/SE-SE swell from the coastal low winds back into the 3-4ft range. Depending on banks and water quality there’ll be waves on offer Friday.

This weekend (July 9-10)

We’re getting more clarity on the weekend now as models come into line.

Saturday now looks like a favourable wind outlook for the region, as the low situated off the West Coast of the South Island and an elongated high drive a mostly W’ly flow across most of NSW. Size will continue to have dipped (temporarily!) as the low re-organises off the South Island. That’ll leave a mix of south quadrant swells in the 3ft range, clean under all day offshores. 

Sunday looks a different story. The advancing high pressure system is expected to combine with the low in the Eastern Tasman to generate a fresh S’ly flow along the NSW temperate coast. There’s still a fair chance that flow will be more SW than S, and possibly even W/SW for most of the day in certain areas. We’ll finesse that Fri.

A solid increase in swell is expected Sun, with the bulk of the increase after lunch.

This will be generated by the low intensifying to severe gale status through Fri/Sat off the West coast of the South Island, with the fetch well aimed at East Coast targets (see below).

Expect size early in the 4-6ft range, building in after lunch into the 6-8ft range, bigger 10ft at more exposed S facing coasts. Surf will be smaller at more sheltered spots, but still very sizey with the SSE angle and significant swell periods. Likely experts only at the few spots handling the swell and wind.

Next week (July 11 onwards)

Sundays pulse extends into Mon with plenty of size, possibly even bulking up a notch with longer swell periods. 6-8ft surf with bigger 10ft sets at more exposed breaks is expected. Winds are still looking a tad dicey. They’ll be improving as high pressure moves over the area, possibly with a lingering S’ly flow which will spoil exposed S facing spots. There is a chance of a lighter more W’ly flow developing which opens up potential for some serious surf to be ridden at more exposed breaks. Otherwise, it’ll be sheltered breaks again and they will still be offering up serious size from the S/SE, although we should see an easing trend start to kick in after lunch.

An easing trend will be in play Tuesday as surf from the S/SE winds down. Expect a few solid 5-6ft sets early at S facing beaches under dreamy light W’ly to W/NW’ly  conditions, dropping slowly through the day. Tuesday is definitely one to pencil in.

A cold front sweeping across the region later Tues into Wed should see W’ly winds Wed and small surf in the 2-3ft range. We’ll keep our eyes out for a late increase in S swell Wed.

At this stage Thurs looks a better bet for an increase in S swell, provisionally up into the 3-5ft range at S facing beaches with S’ly winds, that eases down Fri.

More fronts are expected later next week, suggesting more S swell for next weekend.

Longer term and models are still suggesting no end to the troughy dynamic in the Tasman- with expanded potential for more low pressure development into the medium term. 

Check back Fri, there’s a lot to dial in for the short term and we’ll update how the medium term is shaping up as well.


scottishsponger's picture
scottishsponger's picture
scottishsponger Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022 at 2:35pm

Great news on the swell front, but when is this farking rain gonna stop?! Are we looking at a very wet winter, to continue the deluge we've had so far this year?

scottishsponger's picture
scottishsponger's picture
scottishsponger Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022 at 2:37pm

Thanks Steve. Are those approaching fronts you mention, likely to bring more heavy rain next week?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022 at 2:41pm

These look more like bog standard winter cold fronts to me- but there's still a lot of troughiness in the Tasman.
Anything could bubble up.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022 at 5:18pm

Hmm thats a bummer Monday notes looked promising for a surf
Thursday, Friday a lot must of changed.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022 at 5:24pm

Winds should be SW (strong)down your way tomorrow morning.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Thursday, 7 Jul 2022 at 9:41pm
joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney Thursday, 7 Jul 2022 at 10:24pm

Winki looked good this arvo