Quiet working week but plenty of size from the S from Friday into next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 29th Aug)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Chance for a small NE windswell Tues AM
  • Slight S swell increase Wed PM, extending into Thurs AM with improving winds
  • Minor E'ly swell Fri into weekend
  • Vigorous S’ly flow kicks in Fri as low forms off MNC
  • Late kick in local S swell Fri, extending into Sat and Sun with plenty of size
  • Long period S swell with plenty of size expected Mon, easing into Tues/Wed with light winds tending N’ly
  • Surf easing from mid next week


Small surf over the weekend but size remained surfable with Sat just a notch above expectations, with 2-3ft surf, bigger 3-4ft on the Hunter and light winds. Sunday dipped in size with mostly 2ft sets from the SSE, with a few bigger 3ft waves on the Hunter. Conditions were clean under offshore winds which lingered well into the mid-late morning. Just a small, weak signal of surf in the 1-2ft range today with light winds ahead of freshening N’ly breezes.

Not much action to start the working week

This week (Aug 29-Sep 2)

Not a great deal of action on the charts to start the last week of Winter. A strong high (1040hPa)  is on the other side of New Zealand but pressure gradients in the Tasman are weak, with minimal swell energy being generated from that source. N’ly winds are freshening ahead of a trough which is drawing down more moisture from the Indian Ocean and brings a  S’ly change mid-week and a small pulse in S swell.  A much stronger change on Sat looks to form a low in the Central/Northern Tasman with a more substantial swell increase. That change will be tied to the passage of a deep polar low which brings strong, long period groundswell.

In the short run and we’re looking at small, fun surf through tomorrow morning, mostly NE windswell whipped up overnight in the 2, ocassional 3ft range, easing quickly through the a’noon as the proximate fetch gets shunted quickly away from the coast. N’ly winds will shift NW then W, opening up a window of clean sidewinders before he size drops out. 

Tiny leftovers are on the menu for Wed, with offshore winds. As SW winds push off the NSW S Coast we’ll likely see a slight increase in local S swell from Sydney to the Hunter, but keep expectations very low, we’re only looking at a couple of feet at S swell magnets with winds swinging SE to E in the a’noon. Barely worth working around.

That small S swell signal lingers on at low levels into Thurs morning wth a few 2ft sets on offer at S facing beaches, tiny elsewhere. A weak high cell off the NSW Central Coast will see light  W to NW early with a NE seabreeze kicking in through the a’noon. 

A much stronger front pushes through Fri, with winds likely to really freshen from the SSW-S during the morning. From small surf we’ll see a local S swell signal build in the a’noon but winds will make a mess of S facing beaches where 3-4ft of surf is expected by close of play. Much smaller in the sheltered corners out of the wind. 

This weekend (Sep3-4)

A very vigorous S’ly flow will be with us all weekend as a low deepens off the NSW sub-tropical coast- likely drifting near Lord Howe Island by Sat (see below) and a large high moves through the Bight. So you’ll need to find some wind protection both days.

The stiff S’ly fetch will produce the biggest surf in sub-tropical NSW, but there’ll still be plenty of size further south with Sat seeing a windy, ragged surf in the 5-6ft range at S exposed breaks, bigger on the Hunter. Expect much smaller surf tucked in to more sheltered corners. In addition to the S swell there will be some small E swell as a result of an enhanced tradewind fetch which develops NE of the North Island this week. This will be better aimed at the sub-tropics but should add some 2ft energy into the more sheltered corners.

Sunday brings more of the same stiff S’ly flow and S swell. While this is going on a severe gale to storm force parent low is passing well to the south in the Tasman. Some super long period S swell will be in the mix Sun, albeit at small levels compared to the dominant short range S swell to 4-5ft, bigger on the Hunter.

Next week (Sep 5 onwards)

Long period S swell will be in the water at significant size Mon, with local winds on the improve as high pressure moves over the region. We’ll finesse as we move through the week and see how it shapes up, but at this stage it looks like a strong storm with excellent high pressure support on the western flank and very high swell periods, possibly as high as 17-18 seconds. That will see some serious grunt at S facing beaches, especially deep water adjacent reefs and bommies. Expect size in the 5-6ft range with much bigger surf, possibly in the 8ft range at these S facing reefs. Light winds are expected.

Long period S swell slowly winds down through Tues and into Wed, as a remnant SSW fetch near New Zealand helps maintain swell energy. Expect 3-5ft surf Tues with smaller size Wed and N’ly winds as high pressure moves out into the Tasman. Sounds like an excellent recipe for select S facing exposures. 

Longer term and it looks like high pressure will set up a weak blocking pattern towards the end of next week. That suggests an easing trend in place from mid next week into the weekend 10-11/9.

Check back Wed for a fresh update.


Mark.Fletcher's picture
Mark.Fletcher's picture
Mark.Fletcher Tuesday, 30 Aug 2022 at 7:48pm

Sunday morning - select S swell magnets in Illawarra still producing decent occasional 3ft sets