A mid week spike then an extended period of small S swells ahead

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Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 15th May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Small, weak E/NE swell supplies small clean surf Tues
  • Moderate S swell spike expected Wed with fresh S’ly winds
  • Easing S swell Thurs with SW-SSW winds
  • Rebuild in SSE swell Fri with offshore winds
  • SSE swell extends into Sat with clean conditions 
  • Small and clean Sun, with traces of long period S swell in the water
  • Small S swell pulses expected to continue into next week


A fun weekend of small, clean waves with Sat seeing some 3ft sets under light land and seabreezes. Sunday dropped a notch into the 2ft range with a few 3ft sets on the Hunter and light winds. Today is seeing mostly 2ft surf from the SE with traces of E swell in the mix, clean under a light/variable offshore flow. After a mid week spike in S swell we have a more subdued outlook ahead. Details below.

Nice beachie options under light winds to start the week

This week (May 15-19)

A slow moving high in the Tasman has been gradually weakening over the weekend while a disjointed coastal trough develops at either end of the NSW coast. Light winds from the weakening high will be replaced late Tues into Wed by a stiff S’ly change as a front pushes into the Tasman. The front interacts with the trough to form a surface low off the North Coast but consistent with Fridays notes the surface low is expected to rapidly move away towards New Zealand later Wed into Thurs, with only a short spike in swell expected for temperate NSW.

In the short run we have another pleasant day of light winds and small beachies consisting of a mixed bag of residual E swell and a few traces of leftover SE swell, all told not more than 2ft at exposed breaks. Early offshore winds should start to tend more W/SW through the day and end up S/SW to S as the front starts to push trough, so you’ll want to get your surfing done in the morning.

Fresh S’lies tending S/SE are on offer for Wed as the front pushes into the Tasman and the trough forms a surface low off the North Coast, possibly tracking towards Lord Howe Island during the day. Mid period S swell will quickly spike into the 4-5ft range, bigger 6ft on the Hunter but you’ll need to sacrifice most of that size to find some wind protection in more sheltered spots out of the S’ly winds. 

We’ll see surf moderating quickly from Wednesdays peak on Thursday as the S’ly fetch tracks away towards New Zealand and becomes more off-axis. Surf in the 3ft range at S exposed spots is expected, smaller at protected spots. Winds should have some W’ly component through the morning as a trough lingers in the interior, clocking around S/SW through the morning. 

Winds look pretty good Fri as a weak front pushes through Bass Strait, driving a SW-W flow through the region. The stalled surface low in the Tasman has an off axis fetch but radial spread away from the slow moving source should see a rebuild in S-S/SE swell to 3-4ft on the sets. Friday looks the pick of the week. 

This weekend (May 20 - 21)

Clean conditions extend into the weekend with the front pushing a W’ly flow across most of NSW, possibly tending to weak seabreezes in the a’noon. Friday increase in S/SE swell should extend into Sat morning with some 3ft sets, easing during the day.

By Sunday we’ll see that S/SE swell ebb away with only 2ft sets, dropping back to 1-2ft during the day under light winds and clean conditions. Some traces of longer period S swell moving into the Tasman Sea from frontal activity below the continent look to supply some flukey 2ft sets, possibly 3ft on the Hunter. 

Next week (May 22 onwards)

We’re looking at continuing small S swell pulses into early next week as fronts traverse the lower Tasman. There’s a bit of model divergence over the strength of these fronts so expect some rejigging in size and timing as we move through the week. They won’t be major swell events anyway we slice it- so we’ll be looking towards S facing beaches and swell magnets to make the most of the size on offer. 

The northern extremity of a front is expected to bring another round of SW-SSW wind Mon with a small kick in S swell to 2-3ft at S facing beaches, extending into Tues with winds likely to improve.

Mid week looks a better bet with pre-frontal NW winds and a kick in S swell offering up tasty waves at S facing beaches.

S swells look to continue from mid next week possibly with a bit more size as a high in the Tasman shifts E later next week. We’ll flag that for now and see how it’s shaping up when we come back on Wed.

See you then.


Spudmelon's picture
Spudmelon's picture
Spudmelon Monday, 15 May 2023 at 4:35pm

Wsl curse strikes again