Chunky S swell pulses in the short term, with a few likely lay days in the medium term

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 12th Sep)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small new S'ly swell Mon
  • Bigger S'ly groundswell Tues
  • Another S swell pulse Wed with winds improving
  • Last day of S swell Thurs with increasing N’ly winds
  • NE windswell Fri with winds clocking NW-W/NW through the day
  • Tiny weekend ahead
  • Looking very quiet into next week, stay tuned for updates


A weekend of small but surfably fun waves, that came in at the top end of the f/cast range. Saturday saw the biggest waves with some leftover NE swell in the 3-4ft range, slightly bigger on the Hunter, clean under NW winds. Size dipped a notch Sunday, apart from 2-3ft surf on the Hunter (mostly stray S swell) and smaller 1-2ft surf across the rest of the region with W’ly winds. A small S swell signal has seen some fun 2ft surf today, with bigger 3ft+ surf on the Hunter, clean under a mostly W’ly flow. Not a bad weekend for Spring. Another mixed bag is on the radar for this week. Read on for details.

Nice, fun in the sun surf over the weekend

This week (Sep 12-16)

A strong, but decaying cold front tied to a mid-latitude low is pushing gales through a wide swathe of the lower Tasman, with a handy S swell now being generated for the region. A relatively weak high (1025hPa) is pushing though the Bight with a transitory ridge, quickly breaking down and tending N’ly mid week , before another mid-latitude low pushes through and brings a NW to W’ly flow across the weekend. It’s quite a similar pattern to last week, albeit a bit weaker and we’ll get some reasonable  surf windows out of it, although winds look a bit troublesome.

In the short run and S’ly winds will be with us through tomorrow, likely in the mod/fresh range with just a brief window of SW winds at the usual spots. A mix of S swell trains generated by the current fetch pushing through the Tasman will see S swell building through the day with the morning in the 2ft range, building to 3-4ft at S exposed breaks , bigger 3 to 4-5ft on the Hunter. Wind will be the problem, so you’ll need to sacrifice size- most of it in fact- to find a clean wave.

S’ly winds ease back through Wed, and as high pressure passes over the region, we’ll see winds tend variable before NE in the a’noon. A light morning land breeze is on the cards, but there might be a bit of leftover lump and bump from Tuesdays S’ly winds. Surf-wise we should see a peak in strong S swell, generated by stronger trailing winds, deep in the fetch passing into the Tasman. Expect plenty of mid-period S swell in the 3-5ft range at S facing beaches, bigger 5-6ft on the Hunter and slowly easing during the day, albeit with improving winds for S facing beaches.

Thursday is looking OK, for S facing beaches. The high will be out in the Tasman, with a N’ly flow developing, and leftover S swell should hold surf in the 3ft range, bigger 3-4ft on the Hunter. Early NW winds will tend N’ly and freshen through the a’noon, with a small amount of NE windswell starting to show in the 1-2ft range.

That NE windswell thickens up Fri as the fetch off the NSW Coast strengthens. It’s not quite as well aligned as last weeks fetch, but being further offshore, the approaching mid-latitude low should bring about a NW tilt to winds for most of the day, possibly W/NW through the a’noon, offering semi-clean to clean conditions across the beachbreaks. 2-3ft of NE windswell is n the cards, with scope for an upgrade if winds co-operate. Looks like a fun way to end the working week.

This weekend (Sep 17-18)

Not a great deal of action on the radar for this weekend. Conditions should be mostly clean under a W’ly synoptic flow generated by a stalled , mid-latitude low complex hovering SW of Tasmania.

Those winds should tend more NW through W on Sat but with no swell sources on tap we’re looking at just tiny leftovers from the E/NE in the 1-2ft range, probably smaller in the a’noon.

We may see a small S swell signal Sun, from a Bass Strait fetch of W to WSW winds on Sat, but it looks very flukey at this stage and not worth much more than 1-2ft at the most reliable S swell magnets like the Hunter. Lets see how it looks on Wed, but it probably won’t be worth much more than a splash and giggle across S facing magnets.

Next week (Sep 19 onwards)

Looking very quiet as we move into the Spring Equinox. Unfortunately the stalled mid-latitude low looks to fizzle out as it enters the Tasman early next week, leaving a weak, troughy pattern and light pressure gradients.

Small traces of S swell for Mon, under an offshore flow, with a’noon sea breezes are expected.

Following that looks like we will see a few days of tiny surf, probably the closest to flat we’ve seen for a long time.

Expect that to last Tues-Thurs at this stage, with weak NW to W winds, tending to light S’lies later in the week as a very tepid high pressure ridge sets up along the coast.

Looks better for fishing or other activities than surfing. 

We may see a N’ly flow develop later Thurs into Fri, with a round of NE windswell, but it’s way too early to have any confidence in that scenario.

Check back Wed and we’ll see how it’s shaping up. 

For now, we’ve got a bit to keep us occupied in the short term.