Plenty of S swell short term with cleaner, better quality pulses later this week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 16th Oct)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Freshening S’ly winds late Mon and into Tues as low forms in Tasman (SW inshore early)
  • Plenty of size from the S Tues with lots of S’ly wind
  • Easing swells Wed, with swells tending more S/SE-SE into Wed
  • Light winds and fun sized SE swell Thurs
  • Last pulse of E/SE swell Fri with light winds tending N’ly through the day
  • Small Sat AM with developing NE windswell PM
  • Plenty of NE windswell Sun, with tricky winds as trough approaches
  • Potential for more S swell next week, possibly sizey - check back Wed for updates


The weekend saw a good amount of mostly mid period S swell generated by frontal activity with Sat in the 3ft range, bigger 4ft across the Central and Hunter coasts. Conditions were mostly clean under offshore to light winds. Size eased into Sun with clean 2-3ft surf, boosted in the a’noon by a new pulse to 4-6ft at S facing beaches south of Sydney, 3-4ft north of the Harbour. Longer period S swells today are seeing a wide range of size across the region, with reports of 6ft+ surf at S facing reefs on the Central Coast, 6ft surf on the Hunter, grading down to 2-3ft surf at most beaches. W’ly winds supplied clean conditions early with a strong SW flow expected just after lunch as a front and developing low tighten gradients along the coast. 

S'ly groundswell pounding the Hunter with offshore winds

This week (Oct 16-20)

A strong front and embedded trough of low pressure are currently located just off the Gippsland Coast, expected too move NE into the Tasman and driving a strong/ near gale force S’ly flow up the NSW Coast today, reaching the QLD in the wee hours of Tuesday. There’ll be an initial burst of S swell associated with the proximate fetch, with some better quality SE-E/SE swell from a secondary intensification of the low as it becomes slow moving near New Zealand.

In the short run we’ll see fresh/strong S’lies tomorrow, SW inshore early (possibly more W north of the Harbour). Plenty of mid period S swell in the water. Size in the 6ft range is expected with S facing reefs and the Hunter significantly bigger (8ft sets), albeit probability too windy to surf. Sheltered and semi-sheltered spots will be smaller but cleaner. 

Winds should back down through Wed although the advancing high will develop a ridge along the coast with S/SE winds up in the moderate range through the morning, backing down and tending more E/SE-E in the a’noon. So, don’t expect clean conditions for Wed. That initial surge in short range S swell will come down through Wed as the low tracks away quickly. We’re still looking at sizey 3-5ft surf at S facing beaches, bigger 5-6ft on the Hunter, easing by at least a couple of feet by close of play.

Light winds for Thurs, likely land and seabreezes so we should get an idea of sand bank formations after the S swell pummelling. Expect size in the 2-3ft range, with swell direction clocking around more SE giving a more even spread in wave heights across the region. 

Light winds extend into Fri morning, with a N’ly bias. Early W/NW-NW winds will see clean conditions across the beachies with a mod N-N/NE flow in the a’noon. The positioning of the low favours sub-tropical NSW but the fetch off the S-SW flank will still generate some useful E/SE swell for the region, with 3 occ. 4ft sets in the morning (maybe some bigger sets possible), easing during the day. Friday looks fun. 

This weekend (Oct 21-22)

N’ly winds really kick up this weekend in response to approaching front. We’ll see some small leftovers from the E/SE on Sat morning, just a few slow 2ft sets here and there under NW-N winds, quickly tending N/NE and freshening with developing NE windswell in the a’noon. Likely into the 3ft range but we’ll see how it looks over the week.

Plenty of NE windswell into Sun as the fetch intensifies offshore. Winds will depend on the timing of a front/trough-we may see fresh N’lies most of the day north of the Harbour with a W’ly flow developing about the Illawarra in the a’noon. We’ll revise those winds over the week. We’ll pencil in size in the 3-5ft range early, possibly easing if the fetch gets shunted northwards, with quality depending on the winds. Expect revisions through the week but there’s certainly potential for some quality waves on Sun.

Next week (Oct 23 onwards)

Fairly active charts early next week with a cold front then cut-off low passing SE of Tasmania Mon. We’ll strike a note of caution due to model divergence but some sort of S swell will be on the cards for Mon, possibly sizey Tues as the low moves into the Tasman. 

Mid week and another trough may spawn a wind change with a powerful front/low entering the Tasman, according to GFS model.

EC is looking much more subdued, so we’ll keep a lid on the froth for now.

Looking to the north there is some tropical convective activity between the Solomons and PNG. Way too early to have any confidence or even a suggestion of a swell generating fetch from this but we’ll mention it for now and keep an eye on it during the week. It’s nice to have something to look at in the tropics during October. 

We’ll see how it looks Wed. Seeya then. 


FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 2:59pm

Was hoping for a bit more size to smash some sand. Had a laugh at our optimistic reporter " Afternoon report: It's ruler edge on the low tide so you'll need a good bank. " - um there are no good banks and this great run of swell and conditions has been going to waste.

Interesting FR that Cronulla is not seeing anything like 6ft today (maybe 2-3ft) that other coasts are seeing.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 3:00pm

Yeah, when I heard those reports I was sceptical but I've seen some solid photographic proof.

Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2 Thursday, 19 Oct 2023 at 6:44am

Don’t be too harsh on yourself - magnification of acute SSW swells due to local Bathymetry is never going to be easy to forecast. local reefs have been fun as all winter.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 16 Oct 2023 at 7:35pm

Couple of reefs where 4ft-6ft early today I was hearing..