Surf becoming small and fun over the weekend with a more subdued outlook next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 12th May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Fun mixed bag over the weekend- mostly SSE-SE swell with light winds- S’ly Sat, variable on Sun
  • Small, weak E/NE swell expected early next week
  • Moderate S swell spike expected Wed
  • More subdued outlook into the end of next week
  • Small S swell pulses into next weekend


Reinforcing S swell lifted wave heights back to 5-6ft Thurs with clean conditions under an offshore flow extending well into the late morning. Beautiful waves again this morning as S swell slowly eases with size to 4-5ft, a few 6footers on the Hunter and light W-W/NW winds providing perfectly groomed surface conditions before a light N’ly kicked in. A very swell-filled week. 

Still some great waves around this morning with dreamy conditions

This weekend (May 13 - 14)

No great change to the weekend f/cast. A trough will push north overnight bringing a mild S’ly change in the wee hours. We’re expecting a weak SW flow north of the Harbour tending more W’ly from the Central to Hunter coasts. In the a’noon, the trough dissipates leaving a weak SE-E flow across the region. Leftover S/SE-SE swell from the last stages of the fetch as it lingered in the Eastern Tasman abutting New Zealand should hold some 3ft sets through most of the day, albeit slow and inconsistent. Mixed in will be a weak signal of E swell, not offering more than the occasional 2ft set.

Light winds are on the menu for Sunday as high pressure drifts over Central NSW. We should see a period of light land breezes early, tending to light SE-E breeze during the day. A small mixed bag of leftover SE and E swells will supply mostly 2ft surf with the very odd bigger set, more likely in the morning.

Next week (May 15 onwards)

Strong high pressure in the Tasman early next week will have a firm ridge up along the QLD Coast with the focus of the ridge and wind-field in the Coral Sea starting to move north in accordance with seasonal shifts.

That will see weak pressure gradients across temperate NSW and a couple of days light land and seabreezes Mon and Tues to start the week. 

We’re not expecting much more than 2ft of E’ly quadrant surf off the top of the high, allowing for a few pleasant beachies, sand permitting.

A complex synoptic situation is expected to unfold from Tues, with revisions likely due to the complexity.

Basically a trough line parallel to the coast develops small low pressure centres at either end, off the North and South Coasts. A front then pushes through into the Tasman Sea later Tues.

The sub-tropical low centre will likely see a swift increase in E/NE swell in ares north of Coffs but for Central NSW the main swell source will be the S’ly fetch associated with the front and a small low tracking NE below Tasmania. 

Fresh S’ly winds Wed will see increasing  S swell across the region, likely reaching 4-5ft at S facing beaches, smaller elsewhere.

It looks like the whole trough and front system, move rapidly across the Tasman during Wed, suggesting this S swell will be a spike, easing through Thursday.

More frontal activity behind the mid week front looks to supply small S swells into next week and the weekend 20-21/5. 

We’ll see how that is shaping up on Mon, continuing troughiness and instability in the Tasman Sea at a time when seasonal expectations for ECL’s are at their maximum suggests we won’t have to wait too long for the next major swell event.

Check back Mon and have a great weekend!