More Summer fun ahead as E swells keep coming

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 25th Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Increase in E/NE swell Tues, holding Wed, easing Thurs with N-NE winds
  • S’ly buster expected Thurs PM (around dark)
  • 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 extends into next week with some fun pulses, models divergent on winds check Fri for updates


Plenty of fun waves yesterday with mostly E swell to 3ft across the grounds, clean early under light land breezes before NE winds kicked in leading to a line of spectacular storms to close the day. Size is a little under today with 2-3ft surf, boosting a notch to 3ft+ as the tide came in and a new pulse of E swell filled in. Similar wind conditions with light/variable land breezes early tending mod/fresh NE through the a’noon. 

New E'ly pulse just starting to fill in on the tide push

This week (Jan 25-27)

The synoptic pattern over and surrounding Australia still has a clear La Niña signature with troughy low pressure areas in the Tasman Sea and an active monsoon trough across Northern Australia. High pressure on the other side of New Zealand is cradling areas of low pressure and maintaining a small, fun E swell signal. Way down south, a storm force low extending from the ice shelf to ocean waters SE of the South Island has generated some rare long period SSE-SE swell which is expected to make landfall late Fri and over the weekend.

In the short run, E swell just eases back a notch tomorrow, still offering up some fun 2 to occasional 3ft sets. Light/variable winds early offer clean conditions before NE sea breezes kick in again. It’s a rinse and repeat day with slightly smaller surf. A trough is expected to bring a late S’ly buster which looks like reaching Sydney either just before or just after dark.

Mod S’lies persist overnight Thurs into Fri but the change loses steam quickly, tending to light E/SE breezes through the a’noon. Small mid period E swell keeps chugging away in the 2ft range as low pressure remnants in the Northern Tasman maintain a steady state fetch. Through the a’noon some very long period SSE-SE swell is expected to make landfall from the monster low on the other side of the South Island. It’s radial spread from a source fetch a long way away and with such long periods it’ll be hit and miss. Sets to 2-3ft are a reasonable guide with some noted S swell magnets next to deep water potentially seeing bigger sets, although Sat is more likely for this outcome. In short it’s a flukey source so keep expectations pegged.

This weekend (Jan28-29)

Winds look good for Sat morning. There should be an extended period of W/NW to NW breezes on offer before the winds swing NE through the a’noon and freshen. Long period SSE-SE swell looks to peak with inconsistent 3-4ft sets at swell exposed spots with high variability of wave heights expected across the region. Filling in the gaps will be more mid period E swell to 2ft, with a slight bump in size expected though the day. 

Size eases down from all sources Sun holding around the 2ft range at most spots- with a few leftover SSE sets possible through the morning. Expect flukey/variable winds as another trough pushes through, possibly stalling around the Sydney Basin. Light N is likely early, possibly tending W to SW and ending up light sea breezes in the a’noon. Keep tabs on local winds obs because it’s likely to waver around the compass.

Next week (Jan30 onwards)

Flukey/variable winds extend into Mon, although light S’lies seem the most likely outcome, as a new high moves E of Tasmania. 

Winds look to shift back to a light E’ly pattern Tues under weak pressure gradients.

As mentioned last week, E’ly fetches on the Eastern side of the Tasman Sea near the North Island linked to lingering low pressure look to maintain a regime of pulsey, small fun E swell.

A fetch over the weekend looks to supply a small boost Tues after a day of smaller 2ft surf Mon, pushing wave heights back to 2-3ft, slowly easing through Wed. 

The fetch rebuilds early next week linked to a long, broad tradewind fetch  in the South Pacific slot between the North Island and South Pacific Islands and a semi-stationary trough of low pressure (see below). This fetch retrogrades into the Tasman Sea suggesting a nice boost in E swell likely through Thurs into Fri with size likely to reach 3-4ft.

Winds look uncertain with plenty of run to run model divergence so we’ll hold off making a call there for now, although with an expected continuation of weak pressure gradients they should be light enough to work around. 

In short, E swell looks to keep ticking away at really fun levels through next week so if you’ve been finding a fun bank you can book in more days next week.

Check back Fri and we’ll see how it’s shaping up as well as a last look at the weekend.


Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 26 Jan 2023 at 6:56pm

Southerly has hit the Coal Coast, here's the back of the shelf cloud..

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 26 Jan 2023 at 7:16pm

And now into Cronulla.