Extended period of flukey S swells ahead as La Niña exits stage left

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 26th May)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Modest S swell Sat, easing through the day with SW winds tending more W’ly through the day
  • Back to small S swell Sun
  • Long period S swells from below the continent Mon, easing back Tues
  • Flukey SSE ground-swell on the cards for Tues
  • Slightly bigger S swell pulses expected late next week into the weekend
  • S swells continue into the medium term- check back Mon for updates


After a nice pulse of S’ly groundswell Wed PM, we saw an easing mix of swells yesterday with mostly 2ft surf, occasionally 3ft at S swell magnets under light winds which tended NW through the day. This morning has started out small and weak with light, mostly N’ly winds before a SW-S change works it’s way north. The change reached Sydney around 8.30, blowing out most options. 

Nice sunrise, not much surf

This weekend (May 27-28)

The expected Tasman low forming in the wake of todays front really falls apart, forming instead a raggedy low pressure trough which moves away quickly to the NE overnight and into Sat. That leaves us with a scrappy, bog standard S swell for Sat in the 3-4ft range at S facing beaches, mostly small and scrappy elsewhere and a notch bigger on the Hunter. Surface conditions should improve through the day as the next  front approaches from the W and a large high ridges in bringing a W’ly to NW’ly flow through the day. Size will drop as conditions improve through the day but there should be a reasonable period of surfable fun conditions through the day. Traces of longer period S swell in the water will supply some 2ft sets to reliable swell magnets.

Those sets should continue into Sun, possibly up a notch in size to 2-3ft, but away from S swell magnets surf will become tiny through Sun, although groomed by W’ly winds. Probably a better day for diving apart from a few reliable S swell magnets.

Next week (May 29 onwards)

Not much change to the outlook for next week. Large high pressure moves across the continent bringing settled weather with light winds while a series of fronts traverse the Tasman generating small S swell pulses- a typical El Niño pattern for the Winter. 

Winds will be basically offshore to start the week with a W’ly bias expected for most of the week.

The monster low expected to send pumping surf to Vicco this weekend generates some extra long period S swell wrap for Mon but it’ll be tiny for most areas, with some 2-3ft sets for S swell magnets with a few outliers possible, mostly on the Hunter curve.

More small S swell Tues, with a flukey fetch on the edge of the ice shelf today likely to supply some inconsistent 2-3ft SSE swell sets to the region. Models tend to resolve these swells poorly (if at all) so keep expectations pegged appropriately. Light N’ly breezes in the a’noon will be primo for S facing beaches.

Looks like Wed/Thurs will be the low points of the week, although traces of S swell are likely to maintain surfable waves at S facing beaches- tiny/flat elsewhere.

A stronger front Wed/Thurs may supply S swell a notch bigger for Fri into next weekend to kick off Winter, under current modelling.

Following that we may see another front or even low in the Tasman develop late in the weekend bring a bigger payload of S swell to kick off the week 5/6.

Thats a fair way away but the confidence is reasonable the pattern of small S swells will extend into that time frame as we transition into an El Niño pattern for Winter 2023.

Check back Mon to see how it’s shaping up and in the mean-time, have a great weekend!


wiggy_piratej's picture
wiggy_piratej's picture
wiggy_piratej Friday, 26 May 2023 at 5:34pm

Can any one explain if El Nino is better for surf (south swells) than La Nina? Asking for a mate lol

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 26 May 2023 at 7:04pm

Yep, El Niño brings the south swells.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Sunday, 28 May 2023 at 5:46pm

How’s the spike in swell this arvo.. very nice occasional 3+ft on a sallow rip bowl had some punch in it

fuhrious's picture
fuhrious's picture
fuhrious Sunday, 28 May 2023 at 6:31pm

Hit the local around the full tide mark certainly was surprising the lift in size and the energy had some grunt.