Blast of NE windswell before things go quiet for an extended period

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Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 14th Sep)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • 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- Sat marginally bigger, with offshore winds both days
  • Looking very quiet into next week, stay tuned for updates


Quite a fair chunk of S swell since Mon, with size in the 3-4ft range yesterday, bigger 4ft+ on the Hunter with early cleanish conditions hammered by strong S’lies from the morning. Today has seen winds settle down with a morning land breeze grooming S swell in the 4-5ft range, bigger 6ft at S magnets, still a bit lumpy on the Hunter. Winds are now clocking around to the NE and freshening which will set the pattern for the rest of the week.

Small and clean, or

Bigger but a bit messier

This week (Sep 14-16)

Typical Spring pattern with a slight La Niña/IOD twist unfolding at present. A large high is now moving into the Tasman, directing a N’ly flow along most of the Eastern seaboard. That flow intensifies in response to an approaching series of troughs and a complex low in the Bight. The inland troughs are linked to the negative IOD, drawing in Indian Ocean moisture, and the Tasman Sea is expected to revert to a weak troughy pattern next week, with limited surf potential at this stage.

In the short run and mod/fresh N to NE winds will be with us through Thurs. A last pulse of S to SSE swell will see some 3-4ft surf at S facing beaches with increasing short period NE windswell through the a’noon, likely pushing up into the 2-3ft range at open beaches.

It’s quite a chunky N’ly fetch off the NSW Coast late Thurs into early Fri morning (see below), but it quickly rotates out of the swell as a front approaches, with winds swinging NW to W/NW and rapidly cleaning up 3ft of NE windswell, which will be on the way down through the a’noon. By late a’noon, as the front passes through high res wind models show winds swinging back more NW and possibly N’ly. Get in early on the wind shift before the swell drops away is the call.

This weekend (Sep 17-18)

No great change to the weekend f/cast. It’s a complex synoptic set-up, with the low and multiple troughs and fronts sweeping across the region, but no real surf potential. 

Expect a NW to W flow through Sat with a weak signal of leftover NE swell from the remnants of the fetch lingering about the Northern Tasman. That should supply some small 2ft surf, at open beaches, with traces of S swell supplying inconsistent 2ft sets at S swell magnets. Probably just enough for a fun wave at the magnets.

Winds veer more W to W/SW Sun as another front pushes through. Tiny surf is expected, remnants of E swell and a few marginal traces of S swell. With offshore conditions it may be worth a longboard session. Looks better for rockfishing and diving inshore reefs and ledges.

Next week (Sep 19 onwards)

Still looking very quiet next week. The complex low washes out and leaves a weak, troughy pattern in the Tasman, with a high at sub-tropical latitudes. A Bass Strait fetch on Sun may generate some small 1-2ft S swell Mon under a continuing W’ly pattern but it barely seems worth working around.

From there we move into a period of knee high surf that extends through most of next week. So you can safely set aside Tues-Thurs as not worth bothering with on the surf front.

A weak low is expected to form off the Mid North Coast later next week. GFS quickly scoots the low away with no real surf potential. EC has a stronger, and slower system that may see some useful E swell develop late next week. Confidence is low in both assessments this far out. 

Frontal activity below the Bight looks zonal in nature next week but we may see some small refracted pulses of S swell by next weekend.

Check back Fri and we’ll see how it’s shaping up. Might be a good opportunity to fix some dings.