Small S swell pulses continue with a more benign wind outlook

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 29th March)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Variable-NW-W winds Wed
  • Inconsistent S swell Wed 
  • Small SE-ESE swell Wed PM
  • Low point Thurs with a possible late kick in new S swell and SW winds tending S'ly PM
  • Mid period S swell fills in Fri with offshore morning winds
  • Flukey SSE groundswell Fri
  • S’ly winds this weekend with small S swells, a notch bigger Sun
  • Small, benign conditions now set in most of next week
  • Tricky outlook for later next week, possible larger S swell on the radar, check back Fri for revisions


Inconsistent but long-lined S swell came in Mon a'noon and extended into Tues, over f/cast expectations with most S facing beaches in the 3ft range before easing. Conditions were primo under a light/variable tending NW flow. Today has seen surf slow down more with inconsistent 3ft sets on offer for the patient under clean morning conditions . A small amount of SE swell spread off a fetch aimed at Tasmania is likely to see some 2-3ft sets later today.

Smaller and slower today but still the odd set

This week (Mar 29-31)

Still a complex, troughy pattern in play with a slow moving trough of low pressure drifting south off the Gippsland coast towards waters East of Tasmania. A front sweeping in behind the trough is bringing a clearing W’ly flow through temperate NSW today, reaching the sub-tropics tomorrow. A belt of high pressure below the continent is now weakening and setting us up for a more benign pattern compared to Mondays notes. Small S swell pulses are on the menu from this frontal activity.

In the short run we’ll see an extended period of W-SW winds through tomorrow morning with widespread groomed conditions (some S facing beaches may have a little bump on them). As the trough of low pressure deepens East of Tas we’ll see the return S’ly flow extend Northwards up through the region. Small S to SE swells, mostly SSE-SE from a decaying fetch off the South Island and radial spread from the fetch aimed at Tasmania will see surf in the 2-3ft range. A small kick in new S swell is likely through the a’noon, especially in the south of the region.

Friday sees more of this new mid period S swell building in during the day, up into the 3ft range at S facing beaches, along with some longer range SSE  swell adding in some inconsistent 2-3ft sets. Winds look to back down quickly through Fri as the low moves away and the area comes under the sway of weak local pressure gradients. Offshore winds should extend well into the late morning before tending to variable breezes in the a’noon.

This weekend (Apr 1-2)

Another small front pushes up past Cape Howe overnight Fri into Sat, re-energising the S’ly flow for Sat, although a period of W-SW winds is on the cards for the early. Fridays increase extends into Sat morning, looking fun enough with 3ft at S facing beaches. S’ly winds looks to freshen during the a’noon with a late kick in size on the cards as the main body of the deeper SSW-S fetch clears Tasmanian longitudes Fri/Sat. 

Sun will see a morning peak in size from mid period S swell, generated by a reinforcing front Sat AM, with sets to 4ft likely at S facing beaches. Winds look problematic with a S-SSE flow well set in and any morning SW flow likely to be brief and restricted to areas north of the Harbour to Central Coast. An easing trend in size is likely through the a’noon and we should see winds lay down a notch as pressure gradients ease. Not enough for open beaches to clean up but worth a scout at places with some wind protection.

Next week (Apr 3 onwards)

As mentioned, more benign conditions are now more likely for next week. High pressure moves quickly into the Tasman Sun into Mon and an expected surface trough off the Mid North Coast now looks less likely, with an elongated weak trough hovering parallel and close to the NSW Coast.

South swell looks to dry up quickly into Mon, with just small leftovers on offer. The high in the Tasman and parallel trough looks set to deliver a couple of days of N-NE winds and small, weak E-NE swells in the 1-2ft range. 

The trough looks to spawn a small low off the South Coast/Gippsland region, dragging an offshore flow with it, so we at least should see clean conditions through most of next week, at least Tues-Thurs under current modelling. 

Into the end of the week and leading models differ greatly on expected outcomes. GFS suggests the low will be absorbed by a much stronger front and low forming a powerful progression of SW-S winds in the Tasman and a strong S swell building Fri.

EC maintains the low as a weak, amorphous, slow moving  system North-East of Tasmania with no major swell being produced as it lingers in the Tasman.

Model divergence in these periods of troughiness is par for the course so check back in Fri and w’ll have a clearer idea of how next week will shape up as well as a last look at the weekend. 


FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 12:17pm

Far out the difference in the Recap between regions is interesting FR. We did not get a pulse of S swell last night anything like 4ft. We got that Mon. Last night it was like we had a 2ft S swell with an odd bigger one, and an E swell with very inconsistent but strong 2ft+ sets.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 12:26pm

I saw that for myself, Fraz. Took my younger boys down the local where it was inconsistent but thumping when the sets came through. The beaches north and south were the same and unable to cope with it, while the local point wasn't worth thinking about with the strong NW wind.

Assumed the sets were southerly (not easterly, which was also in the mix) so came home and looked on the Cronulla cams to see what was happening up there. Very surprised to see how small it was in comparison.

nolocal's picture
nolocal's picture
nolocal Thursday, 30 Mar 2023 at 4:40pm

if where I am thinking it is, surfed solo on dark when the winds dropped and swung with less north, small but fun. Great evening.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 12:39pm

You're right Fraz.
Recap amended.

These S pulses have been very flukey about where they hit though.

flow's picture
flow's picture
flow Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 12:28pm

Bondi was pumping yesterday afternoon with long lulls.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 5:05pm

Had small fun 2ft+ east swell yesterday then bang a 3/4 ft sets every 20 mins SE . direction coped 3 on head in a rip bowl .. packed a punch

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 6:13pm

Sounds like a few of us got lucky in patches. Got some serious peaches Mon, last night and this morn but it was mostly tea bagging. So inconsistent.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 7:14pm

And the drought continues even in Bali. We got spoilt

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Thursday, 30 Mar 2023 at 12:09am

Not sure if you saw my post to you in other forecast notes saying somewhere i dint name will be ok,(and was good for a week) but pretty much 90 % certain nowhere between india and timor will be bigger than 1.4 metre swell for the next 12 days.Some spots offshore or glassy but nothing worth travelling for.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023 at 7:53pm

Further to the West....