Easing surf with good winds with another blast from the S Fri as low forms off Sydney

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 22nd May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Solid S swell pulse Mon, with sizey, easing leftovers Tues and improving winds
  • Small S swell pulses Wed, easing Thurs with mostly offshore winds  
  • Another solid S swell event expected Fri as low forms north of Sydney, easing Sat
  • Possibly E quadrant swell (E-E/SE) early next week if low lingers in Tasman - check back Wed for revisions 
  • S swells continue into the medium term- check back Wed for updates


Pumping surf Sat with hollow 4-5ft SE swell groomed by offshore winds and a stack of good/great surf around the region. Size eased in Sunday with 2-3ft sets becoming slower and inconsistent through the day. Conditions were clean early with a vigorous SW-SSW flow making a mess of anywhere exposed. That front has generated a sizey S swell overnight with a raw S swell in the 6ft range, bigger 8ft on the Hunter. Another large S swell is expected to bookend the week. Details below.

Solid and raw on the Hunter this morning

This week (May 22-26)

A winter calibre front and low has now transited the Tasman, after generating a solid S swell for the Eastern Seaboard. Large high pressure (1032 hPa)is moving across inland NSW bringing settled conditions and  light winds to the region, for the next few days. Late this week, likely Fri, we’ll see a cold front and upper trough combine to form another deep, coastal low possibly with gales to strong gales. Compared to the last system that generated XL surf in Sydney, this low is positioned slightly further north and moves away quicker, suggesting sizey surf but smaller than the last event.

In the short run and we’ll see dreamy winds set in through tomorrow, light offshore extending well into the day before light/variable seabreezes. S swell will be on the way down with a morning peak to 4-5ft (6ft on the Hunter) steadily easing back to 2-3ft at S facing beaches, smaller elsewhere.

Small, long period S swell trains are on the menu for Wed, generated by continuing frontal activity in the lower Tasman mostly aimed at New Zealand targets. Offshore W/NW winds through the morning are likely to tend NW through the a’noon, possibly with some patches of N’ly in the a’noon. S swell magnets should see some 2-3ft sets through the day from a mix of long period and mid period S swell, clean as a whistle under groomed conditions.

Thursday looks like the low point of the week as S swell trains become tiny, just a few 1-2ft sets at S swell magnets, tiny elsewhere. Morning offshore W/NW breezes are expected to freshen during the day in a pre-frontal NW flow.

By Friday morning we should see a complex low winding up and deepening off the Sydney/Central Coast region, with SW gales developing during the day and a very large S swell being whipped up. We’ll pencil in a raw 6ft+ at this stage, bigger north of Sydney and smaller to the South, but an upgrade is certainly possible so stay tuned for updates through the week as there’s still a bit of model divergence to sift through.

This weekend (May 27-28)

Models suggest the low moves away to the NE later Fri into Sat past Lord Howe Island into the Central Tasman with plenty of swell being generated for Northern NSW, easing swells in temperate NSW. Expect size in the 5-6ft range early, bigger on the Hunter with much smaller surf at protected locations. A mod/fresh SW flow will confine clean conditions to sheltered spots.

Winds improve Sun as a weak front pushes out of Bass Strait bringing a W-W/SW flow through the day. Expect an easing mix of S-S/SE swells to 3-4ft, dropping back to 2-3ft during the day. 

Next week (May 29 onwards)

Still some model divergence for next week with EC suggesting the Tasman low which forms Fri will linger in the Tasman and become slow moving , possibly sending some useful E quadrant swell our way through early next week. GFS is much less bullish on this idea. 

Offshore winds continue into early next week and frontal activity below Australia remains turned up, better aimed for Victoria but still sending small, long period S swells our way. 

A stronger front then looks to approach mid week, suggesting a moderate S swell blast Thurs.

We’ll see how all this is shaping up on Wed, seeya then.


MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Wednesday, 24 May 2023 at 8:11am

Forgot how bad these dead south swells are in my neck of the woods.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Wednesday, 24 May 2023 at 8:55am

Same mcb.. finally got good banks last week destroyed now 400 mt closeouts swallow straight banks again

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 24 May 2023 at 8:56am

Yep, I love south swells :/