Plenty of wind to work around next week but windows for the keen with swells from around the compass

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 17th March)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small mix of swells Sat/Sun (cleanest early)- NE windswell Sun with freshening NE winds and a late S’ly change
  • Fresh S’lies Mon, tending SE Tues with a mix of low quality swells
  • Freshening NE winds Wed as an inland trough approaches with a mix of NE and E/NE swells
  • Variable winds Thurs, tending SE with small, fun E/NE swell likely to continue from tradewinds
  • S swell on the menu later next weekend
  • Tracking an active tropics but nothing major for temperate NSW at this stage- check back Mon for latest updates


Quality surf continued into Thurs with mostly all day (hot!) offshores and surf in the 3-4ft range that trended down a notch or two through the a’noon. Clean conditions this morning  (before winds tended S/SE-SE) with surf dropping off to an inconsistent 2ft+ to end a really fun week courtesy of a slow moving Tasman low of sub-tropical origins.

Still some fun lines at the Alley as Blake Johnston wraps up his World Record surf

This weekend (Mar 18 - 19)

 No great change to the weekend f/cast. Weak high pressure moves into the Central Tasman at quite a high latitude, putting a weak block on fronts to the South, which pass through with poorly aligned fetches.

With no major swells on offer Sat AM looks the best of it with small leftovers from the E/SE and a mix of small S swell trains not exceeding 2ft at S swell magnets and tiny elsewhere. Early light NW winds will clock around quickly to the NE and freshen, whipping up a bit of NE windswell in the sub 2ft range, bigger on the South Coast.

The proximate N/NE fetch does lengthen overnight Sat into Sun before weakening suggesting a morning peak in NE windswell in the 2-3ft range with morning N’lies tending NE before a late S’ly change as a trough pushes up the coast. A window of lighter winds just in advance of the trough looks more likely around the Illawarra. Energy is likely to be dissipating anyhow through Sun a’noon as the fetch weakens so keep expectations pegged nice and low. Small traces of S swell don’t look like adding much in the mix but you may find some 1-2ft surf at the more reliable S swell magnets around the Hunter.

Next week (Mar 20 onwards)

All eyes out to the Pacific swell window this week with a typical late Summer/early Autumn pattern setting up. Low pressure centres well to the East of Fiji (near American Samoa), west of Fiji and NW of New Caledonia will all chug away on a long tradewind belt setting up presently and enhanced by a dominant high pressure cell moving SE of Tasmania early next week. Better positioned for the sub-tropics but  E/NE swell will filter down the East Coast next week.

In addition we’ll see a reasonable strength front track NE into the Tasman and while winds aren’t ideally aligned it will add some S to SSE swell in the mix from mid next week.

Monday see strengthening S’lies as the trough moves N, the front moves into the Tasman and the high pressure ridge starts to build in behind these features. A brief window of clean-ish small NE windswell is on offer before short range S swell rapidly fills in through the day, up to around 3ft at S exposed breaks.

Onshore winds as the high drifts E of Tasmania will be the feature of Tues, with SSE-SE winds likely tending even more ESE-E during the day. That’ll make for low quality surf in the 3ft range as short range S swell tends to localised SE swell, with a small amount of longer range S in the mix. Hard to see anything looking great Tues under those direct onshore winds. 

Pressure gradients look to tighten across the region Wed as an inland trough approaches, with freshening N-NE winds infeeding into the trough. Expect another mixed bag with predominant NE-E/NE swell from the infeed, as well some small E/NE swell filtering down from the tradewind band and small S swell, all in the 3ft range. We may see a wind change as the trough moves offshore, check back Mon for timing there.

Through the end of next week we’re likely to see variable winds Thurs as the trough moves offshore, tending SE through Fri as reinforcing High pressure cells move in from under the Bight. 

Through this period we’ll continue to see small pulse of E/NE swell filtering down from the South Pacific tradewind belt, although nothing much more than 2ft+ is on the menu at this stage. 

A front tracking NE into the Tasman let next week into the weekend offer up potential for more small S swell pulses late next weekend but we’ll have to see how it plays out before making any calls.

Also on the radar next week we’ll be watching a low pressure system in the Coral Sea which has been lingering for days as a diffuse system. There looks to be more organisation later next week, possibly with a S-SE recurvature if the system intensifies into a tropical cyclone.

Thats a long way away and a lot would have to go right before it became a swell source for temperate NSW- but we’ll keep tabs on and see how it’s shaping up on Mon morning.

Have a great weekend and seeya then!


channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom's picture
channel-bottom Sunday, 19 Mar 2023 at 2:00pm

Decent sea fog has rolled in this arvo. Seems at odds with such a warm day.