Low pressure system forming East of Sydney from mid week brings plenty of swell and wind

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 26th Sep)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small pulse in E/SE swell later Sun, holding into Mon, with light winds
  • Small mix of E quadrant swells continues Tues with good winds AM
  • Small surf Wed, possibly a slight NE windswell with flukey winds as low moves offshore from Sydney
  • Tricky day Thurs, mostly small, with a possible late kick in S-SSE swell
  • Strong SSE Fri as low deepens off Sydney with fresh SSE-SE winds
  • Size holds into Sat with continuing SSE-SE winds (easing during the a’noon)
  • Offshore winds Sun AM with still strong but easing SE swell
  • Nice pulse of ESE swell Mon, slowly easing through ups with good winds
  • More instability from mid next week, stay tuned for updates


A few fun waves to be had over the weekend. Sat saw a window of clean conditions with a mix bag of leftover NE swell and a bump in S swell with size in the 2-3ft range. S’ly winds laid down quickly and Sunday more clean surf in the 2ft range, slightly bigger in the a’noon as E/SE swell filled in. We’ve still got some fun 2-3ft surf on offer today with a morning land breeze persisting into the midday houses before tending to NE sea breezes. A dynamic low is expected to move offshore from inland NSW this week with plenty of wind and swell ahead. Read on for details. 

Fun, clean options on the weekend

This week (Sep 26-30)

Weak, peanut shaped high pressure sits over NSW and Southern QLD at present with the remnants of last weeks low still drifting in the Southern Tasman Sea, although no longer producing significant swell. Yet another inland trough forms an interior low mid-week, likely in Southern NSW, and this low is looking like a solid S-SSE swell producer as it moves offshore Wed/Thurs and becomes cradled by a strong high moving well south of the Bight. It’s not the type of pattern we would expect to see in late Sep, but with so much La Niña mediated troughiness in the Tasman, it’s just been a matter of time until something kicked off.

In the short run and the pleasant conditions with light winds and small, fun surf should carry through for another day on Tuesday. Nothing special but a continuation of fun-sized E-SE swell in the 2-3ft range at open beaches, a notch bigger on the Hunter. Early light W to NW winds will tend N/NE through the a’noon but should stay relatively light- enough for an arvo session.

Through Wed we’ll see a troughy area offshore with the inland low starting to approach the coast. That will lead to a flukey wind regime- likely NW across most of the north of the region, and SE-SW across the Illawarra. Check your local wind obs through the day as the low approaches, winds will swing around, likely tending SW-S late as the low starts to consolidate just offshore from Sydney. Not much surf to speak of Wed, just a small signal of E/NE swell and NE windswell, topping out around 2ft. Worth a look under clean conditions if winds are offshore. 

Thursday will be an interesting day as the low winds up roughly due E of Sydney. Light W’ly winds through the morning will tend SW then SSW-S as pressure gradients tighten. It’s likely we will see a late kick in S swell, although it’s still an open question whether this increase will occur after dark. Expect small surf through the morning and keep tabs on a late increase in S swell, much more likely on the Illawarra.  Depending on the timing we could see a rapid rise in S/SSE swell through the last 2 hrs of the day.

That swell will be strong come Fri. Windspeeds in a broad fetch will be strong wind category (see below) so surf heights will be somewhat constrained, but still in the 5-6ft range. Expect direction to clock around from S/SSE to SE through the day as the fetch moves Eastwards and elongates down towards the South Island.  Winds will be the problem, being fresh from the SSE to SE. You’ll need to sacrifice size to find cleaner surf in sheltered corners.

This weekend (Oct 1-2)

Plenty of size this weekend as the low slowly drifts away through the Tasman. Saturday looks to be in the solid 6ft range, easing a notch, with winds still a problem. The pressure gradient between the low and the advancing high is still strong enough to maintain mod/fresh SSE-SE winds through Sat, so you’ll need to find wind protection to get a surf in reasonable quality waves. 

Sunday looks a much better bet for good winds. Pressure gradients slacken right off, with a weak troughy area along the coast seeing a weak land breeze through Sun morning before winds tend to light SE breezes. Size should hold in the 4-5ft range Sun from the SE, with a slow easing through the day. 

Next week (Oct 3 onwards)

Should be a great start to next week, first week of Oct. As the low moves towards the North Island, gales develop north of Cook Strait and off the West Coast of the North Island through Sat/easing Sun.

That should see a great pulse of ESE swell in the 3-5ft range arrive Mon with primo winds. Light morning offshores and a’noon sea breezes. 

That pulse will slowly ease back through Tues, with size dropping from 3-4ft, down to 2-3ft or less during the day. Winds look OK Tues, light through the morning, tending to a’noon sea breezes. 

Looking medium term and yet another mid-latitude or inland low is expected to push through next week. That should see NE winds increase along the coast, with fair odds for another round of NE windswell from mid next week. 

A small front passing Tasmania early next week also offers a chance of a small S swell from mid next week, although later model runs have gone cold on that prospect.

Check back Wed for the latest, with the continuing Neg IOD and La Niña there’s bound to be fresh revisions.


Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 at 9:00am

do you guys think any NE swell will show from that fetch NNE of NZ over the weekend?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 at 1:38pm

Just small, background swell.