Stacked forecast with lots of wind and swell ahead

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 23rd Oct)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Only minor S swell now expected for Tues
  • Minor NE windswell Tues PM, bigger on Wed with early offshore winds, tending SW-S in the morning
  • Late kick in short range S swell Wed, much sizier Thurs with fresh S-S/SE winds
  • Fresh S/SE winds continue Fri with strong S’ly groundswell filling in
  • Plenty of S’ly swell Sat with more pulses of S/SE swell incoming- winds easing Sat
  • More S/SE swell Sun, with winds tending N’ly and new E’ly swell filling in
  • Strong surface low in sub-tropics brings plenty of E/NE swell Mon/Tues, easing into Wed with tricky winds
  • More action on the radar later next week- check back for latest updates Wed


Great mixed bag over the weekend with heaps of fun, surf options. E/SE swell leftovers Sat provided plenty of fun 2-3ft surf under early morning light winds which tended fresh NE in the a’noon, with some rideable NE windswell for the keen. NE windswell built overnight with 4ft surf for the morning ( 5-6ft sets reported, mostly south of the Illawarra). The offshore flow only lasted until 8-9am before the low wobbled and with multiple trough lines a S-SE flow unfortunately spoiled the party. Winds backed down again for the late and this morning has seen an offshore flow as a low moves E of Tasmania with clean leftovers from the NE to 2ft or so (occ. 3footer). 

Still some clean peaks on offer this morning

This week (Oct 23-27)

We’ve got an October surprise with the formation of TC Lola between Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Lola, under current track assessments will scythe through Vanuatu and cross Grand Terre (New Caledonia), fizzling out as a TC as it enters the Coral Sea. Thus, we won’t look towards Lola as a swell source. Plenty of other swell sources on the radar though this week with a strong frontal intrusion into the Tasman mid week, backed up by a monster high moving in from the Bight, which will generate plenty of sizey S swell. Late in the week, a combination of inland upper trough and a long angled trough extending from TC Lola remnants is expected to form a powerful surface low off the sub-tropical NSW Coast (likely between Lord Howe and Norfolk Is). As modelled, gales will produce a large E’ly quadrant swell event, with maximum size in Northern NSW, grading smaller into temperate NSW. A secondary October surprise that looks to be a major swell producer. Other swell sources are also on the radar. 

In the short run and tomorrow will be small, with just a minor signal of S swell to 2ft  from the low which rapidly weakened as it moved E of Tasmania and some small NE windswell in the a’noon, topping out at 1-2ft. 

O’night N’lies feeding into the approaching frontal system will see an increase in NE windswell for Wed morning, likely just reaching 3ft, easing through the day. A morning W/NW-NW flow will likely tend SW-S by office hrs, so get in early for a clean window. Mostly short range S swell will start to build in the a’noon, but with no real size to it. 2-3ft at S facing beaches at best, tiny elsewhere. 

We’ll see a much more significant increase in S’ly swell Thurs. Winds first though. The monster high will brings a powerful S-SE surge right up the Eastern seaboard so expect fresh/strong S/SE winds for most of Thurs and Fri.

Mostly short range S swell Thurs will build into the 4-6ft range, bigger 6-8ft on the Hunter. Clean options will be scarce and you’ll need to sacrifice size too find them.

Joining the short range S swell on Fri will be more powerful, longer period S swell trains from a long, broad fetch of gales in the Tasman. This will have size and juice, likely pushing up into the 6-8ft range at S exposed breaks, bigger 8-10ft on the Hunter. Again, you’ll have to sacrifice a lot of that size to find a clean wave in sheltered corners. 

This weekend (Oct 28-29)

Dynamic looking weekend ahead. By late Fri the deepening trough off the sub-tropical north coast is expected to form a surface low, with strong winds to gales adjacent to and aimed up at sub-tropical targets. 

Further south in temperate regions we should see winds ease through Sat with a weakening onshore S-SE flow tending to E-NE seabreezes in the a’noon. We’ll finesse winds as we move through the week. Plenty of S swell is still expected to be making landfall. Likely in the 5-6ft range at S facing beaches, bigger on the Hunter. We’re likely to see either a fresh pulse of S/SE swell or a clocking around of swell direction as the fetch migrates across the lower Tasman. Either way, with plenty of size holding into the a’noon under easing winds. 

Winds tend N’ly on Sun, with good odds for a morning W/NW-NW flow before a freshening NE seabreeze kicks in. S/SE swell holds at least 3-4ft of size, potentially bigger depending on how the fetch behaves as to tracks across the far lower Tasman. With a fully fledged surface low in the far Northern Tasman we should start to see some E’ly swell show up. Likely into the 3ft range during the day, depending on how that low behaves. There should be no shortage of surf for Sun.

Next week (Oct 30 onwards)

If charts come off as modelled we’ll start seeing some juicy E/NE swell generated by the low in the Tasman- definitely not what we would expect in late October. We’re still a ways from this system forming but with good model agreement we can pencil in at least 4-6ft of E/NE swell for Mon, extending into Tues. 

Winds look to be from the N’ly quadrant M on, with a trough bringing a S’ly change Tues. Expect revisions there.

That trough may deepen into a small low off the NSW Coast, suggesting more S/SE-SE swell next week.

Frontal activity is also on the cards.

Plenty of activity at a minimum as we head out of October into November, with a much more active Spring than Winter already in the books. 

Check back Wed for the latest update.


Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Monday, 23 Oct 2023 at 1:10pm

Whoa so much great information ,looking forward to all of it making landfall

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 23 Oct 2023 at 8:11pm

3.8m @15.8 seconds thats one powerful swell I can’t wait to watch this unfolded ..the whole forecast looks amazing..

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 23 Oct 2023 at 9:02pm

Models are mixing swells a bit so it won't be that much size regarding pure groundswell.

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 8:26am

Yew!!! I'll be on that famous sunshine coast point/s from Sat- how much size do you think will be getting in FR? I was only going to take the twinny but it looks like I might need the 6'6" step up

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 8:32am

Not that much due to swell direction.
Outer points may use a 6'6", but otherwise, take a good paddler as primary consideration.

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Tuesday, 24 Oct 2023 at 1:20pm

Thanks FR - only been once so not that familiar with how it all works. There Sat-Wed. When I saw XL mentioned and also 8ft with some E in it !!! Being 6'3 myself - 6'6 is not much of a step up - might spend the extra on luggage and pack it anyway.