Tricky swell sources and fun sized E swells keep surf zones active

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 23rd Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Local E swell likely Mon, easing into Tues with winds tending NE after clean mornings
  • Increase in E/NE swell Tues, holding Wed, easing Thurs with N-NE winds
  • S’;ly buster expected Thurs PM
  • Fresh S’lies Fri with some small S swell expected
  • Long period SSE-SE groundswell expected later Fri, peaking Sat, easing Sun
  • Fun sized E swell over the weekend from fetch near North Island
  • E swell may extend into next week, models divergent check Wed for updates


A few fun waves over the weekend as winds were generally lighter than forecast under a troughy pressure environment. Sat saw surf in the 3-4ft range, a mix of SE and E swell with winds light enough for all day surfing. Size dropped a notch Sun with winds all over the shop and some clean periods. The trough deepened overnight into a small low which generated some local E swell and brought (cool) W to SW-S winds this morning with some clean 3ft surf on offer across part of the region, messier up on the Hunter. All in all, it’s punched slightly above it’s weight with the better than expected conditions. A few sneaky swell sources on the radar this week, details below.

Fun blend of swells over the weekend with light winds provided plenty of workable beachies

This week (Jan 23-27)

A troughy pattern exists through the Northern Tasman down to the South Coast with the remnants of TC 10P (named by JTWC but remained a cyclone for less than a day) drifting in a SW direction from out near New Caledonia. A small low pressure cell near the South Coast is slowly drifting south leaving a variable flow in it’s wake across the f/cast region.

In the short run we should see a light/variable offshore flow through tomorrow morning. E swell from a proximate fetch feeding into the trough /low over the weekend and today sees E swell hold in the 2-3ft range, easing off before E/NE swell fills in from the retrograding remnants of TC 10 (see below). That should see some 3-4ft sets as NE winds kick in and freshen.

Winds should be light NW through Wed morning before tending light mod N then NE through the a’noon. Mid period E/NE swell holds surf in the 3-4ft range so if you can deal with the winds swell direction opens up lots of options. 

We should see a light NW flow, more W up on the Hunter through Thurs morning as a trough lingers about the coast. Winds then tend N-NE for most of the morning and possibly later in the a’noon before another trough brings a more robust S’ly change. Expect a S’ly buster through the a’noon. Before that E/NE swell a notch smaller in the 3ft range supplies fun surf. 

Friday looks unruly with stiff S’y winds as another trough of low pressure sits just off the NSW Central Coast. That’ll see building short range S swell through the day to 2-3ft, mixed in with the last of the E/NE swell. Through the a’noon winds will tend SE which will reduce surfable options but we are expecting a rare swell source to make landfall later in the day. A storm force low well SE of the South Island today and tomorow stalls long enough in the far edge of the swell window to generate  some SE-SSE long period swell up the NSW Coast. Swell models are not resolving this swell well with an underestimation most likely. 

Expect inconsistent sets showing to 3ft Fri, 3-4ft on Sat at S exposed breaks. 

This weekend (Jan28-29)

Light winds Sat morning should open up some options for the SSE-SE groundswell Sat morning but expect a big range of wave heights with some spots magnifying and others missing out. E’ly swell from a fetch in the Northern Tasman near the North Island will hold some 2-3ft surf through the day. High pressure moves quickly into the Tasman with winds swinging E then NE through the day. If you can work with winds there should be some fun options around.

Light winds are expected Sun, NW early tending NE through the day. Dregs of SSE-SE groundswell supply a few inconsistent 2-3ft sets but E swell will be dominant as the fetch near the North Island keeps chugging away. Expect 3ft surf from this source. 

Next week (Jan30 onwards)

Model divergence between the major weather models suggests revision for next week but the new week looks like a N’ly pattern overnight Sun into Mon with a  S’ly change possible through the morning. We’ll revise timing through the week.

E swell looks to keep chugging away as the semi-stationary fetch near the North Island maintains position. EC runs this fetch right through to mid next week suggesting plenty of fun, pulsey E swell in the 3ft range. GFS winds it up much earlier with S swell from a fetch associated with Mondays S’ly change building later Mon and holding Tues in the 2-3ft range.

By mid next week we look to be in a weak, troughy environment again suggesting light winds across the f/cast region. Under the EC scenario that will be with fun E swell to ride.

Check back Wed and we should have some more clarity over this as well as more info on the short term.


MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Tuesday, 24 Jan 2023 at 11:27am

Some fun clean 3ft'ers around this morning with some sunshine and warm water.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Tuesday, 24 Jan 2023 at 5:38pm

3ft + this morning some incredible peaks ..banks are smoking too .. all the crew scored..

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 24 Jan 2023 at 7:40pm

Yep and more tomorrow!

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Tuesday, 24 Jan 2023 at 8:38pm

Bring it on !!!!!

channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom Tuesday, 24 Jan 2023 at 8:42pm

This morning before and after the high tide was so good!

MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Wednesday, 25 Jan 2023 at 8:50am

Another cracker morning. Keep it coming please.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Wednesday, 25 Jan 2023 at 9:47am


FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Wednesday, 25 Jan 2023 at 12:01pm

Jealous - no banks here but great conditions otherwise.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 25 Jan 2023 at 12:12pm

Banks locally changing with each passing tide cycle but also changing mid-surf with such large variations. Good to keep people guessing.

Had a great surf Monday morning, shocker yesterday and fun one again this AM.