Plenty of options over the weekend with another strong S episode later next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri 20th Oct)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • E/SE swell leftovers Sat AM with developing NE windswell PM
  • Plenty of NE windswell Sun AM, with offshore winds likely, swell easing PM
  • Only minor S swell now expected for Tues
  • Strong extended S swell now expected Thurs-Sat next week- winds look tricky, likely S'lies, check back Mon for latest update


Pumping surf yesterday from a slow moving Tasman low which intensified mid-week. Surf rapidly built into the 6ft range in the sets with clean conditions under light winds before weak E’ly breezes tended NE through the a’noon. Size has come down off the peak this morning with sets still to 4ft from the E/SE and cleanish conditions early with NW-N/NW flow now tending NE and freshening. 

Swell starting to pump on the NB's yesterday

This weekend (Oct 21-22)

No great change to the weekend f/cast. An approaching complex trough, front and low complex will see freshening N/NE-NE winds through Sat with only a brief period of light NW winds inshore early. There’ll still be some leftover swell from the Tasman low with sets easing to 2-3ft. Models are still showing traces of long period S swell glancing the coast, so a squizz at reliable S swell magnets may yield dividends. Likely very fickle. We’re more likely to see some workable NE windsweell develop in the a’noon as nor-easters reach 25-30knots, with size to 3ft likely if you are happy to surf in the fetch.

Sunday still looks very promising, with a very well timed W’ly change around dawn, just after the fetch reaches maximum strength. Size in the 3-5ft range is highly possible (mostly 4ft) for the early, with size easing quickly through the a’noon as the proximate fetch retreats. Expect fluky SE-NE breezes north of Sydney from late morning, with W’lies re-establishing on the Illawarra to Sydney stretch in the a’noon. 

Next week (Oct 23 onwards)

Small mixed bag to start the week, with an offshore flow as a low approaches Tasmania. Expect some just surfable NE leftovers and stray E swell to 1-2ft at open beaches. Clean under offshore winds.

That low now moving E of Tasmania is substantially weaker than indicated on Wed, so we’ll just see a small signal of S swell generated by the Bass Strait fetch and a thin fetch SE of Tasmania. Not much to it, just a couple of feet at S facing beaches Tues, 3ft on the Hunter with early offshore winds tending NE through the day. 

All gone by Wed with nothing of any substance expected, likely ankle-snappers across most of the region. 

More action is expected for the end of the week. A following frontal system backed by a strong high in the Bight brings gales to the lower Tasman Wed/Thurs with strong S swell expected to build Thurs. Size up into the 4ft range is likely, bigger 4-6ft on the Hunter. Winds will be a problem with the the strong high quickly building a ridge up the coast with freshening S’lies.

The fetch is very broad, basically the entire lower Tasman covered in gales under current modelling. That suggests plenty of size from long period S’ly groundswell Fri, persisting into Sat. We’ll see how it looks Mon, but pencilling in sets to 6ft Fri (bigger at S facing reefs and the Hunter), with a slow easing into Sat seems justified. Winds will be the issue, but we should see the ridge break down quickly , with lighter S-SE winds Fri tending N’ly on Sat. 

Longer term and the strong high and possible remnants of a TC in the South Pacific may see an elongated trough form across a vast area of the South Pacific (Solomon’s to the North Island) with SE winds feeding into the trough. That may see useful, possibly even sizey SE-E/SE swell late next week. It’s an unusual pattern for October, so we won’t put too many chips on the table just yet. Lets see how it looks on Mon.

Seeya then and have a great weekend!


evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Friday, 20 Oct 2023 at 2:31pm

Sounds promising lets have no down grading after such a lackluster winter spring
has so far proven far better.

yodai's picture
yodai's picture
yodai Friday, 20 Oct 2023 at 2:56pm

May have been a pumping swell Thursday but when the sand banks are crap it’s just board breaking close outs

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Friday, 20 Oct 2023 at 4:47pm

My local was absolutely pumping all day not one board rider went out apparently that tells you how shit the banks are !!!!

Dna79's picture
Dna79's picture
Dna79 Friday, 20 Oct 2023 at 5:46pm

Do you reckon this Sundays NE swell will come in similar to the NE swell that lit up the Illawarra on thurs 5th Oct ?

Bubble elder's picture
Bubble elder's picture
Bubble elder Friday, 20 Oct 2023 at 10:43pm

I don’t think so, that swell had a mix of long period and wind swell, this one’s just wind swell so it won’t line up as well as that and will likely get knocked down in size much faster.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Saturday, 21 Oct 2023 at 7:32am

Yep. Much weaker and smaller.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 10:42am

First surf in 5 weeks and scored some chunky 4ft lefts up the coast this morning unfortunately the wind destroyed it at 730 me quota,, so stoked to be back out there again!!!'s picture's picture Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 1:13pm

what happened to the 'offshore' all day?'s picture's picture Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 1:13pm

maybe still coming

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Sunday, 22 Oct 2023 at 3:40pm

Low stalled a little allowing SE winds in across Sydney, gusty offshore to the south. LAGO coming but.