More long period S swell (if you're lucky) along with swells from the Eastern quadrant

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 15th Nov)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Easing S swells Thurs with early SW winds tending S’ly then SE before easing
  • Mod short range S swells Fri with fresh S’lies easing during the day
  • Mixed bag Sat with small S swells and some possible late E/NE swell from TC Mal, holding into Sun
  • Another strong, long period S’ly groundswell pulse later Sun with N’ly winds
  • Easing strong S’ly swells Mon with some E-E/NE swell likely and a S’ly change
  • SE swells likely next week as small low forms in Tasman
  • Troughy, unstable outlook continues, stay tuned for updates


Some small S swell yesterday, in the 2-3ft range at S facing beaches with N’ly winds, tending S’ly south of Jervis Bay under a weak troughy pattern. Today has seen long period S swell up in the 5-6ft range at S facing beaches (some S exposed reefs south of Sydney in the 6-8ft range or bigger) with an early variable flow tending SW-S then S/SE through the day as a trough moves north. 

Not everywhere scored it but some real juice and size as long period S swell made landfall today

This week (Nov 15-17)

A troughy pattern spawns a compact Tasman low in the short term with S’ly groundswell making it’s way up the Tasman Pipe. Another deep low is expected to bomb under the continent and send more long period groundswell our way late this weekend under a continuing unstable, trough pattern. 

In the short run we’ll see S’ly winds tomorrow, light inshore early and tending variable south of Sydney before light/mod SE winds kick in. S’ly groundswell from the trailing fetch (shorter period swell trains than today) supplies some 4ft sets early at S facing beaches, easing during the day. 

S’ly winds then freshen Fri as a front pushes through and the low off the MNC deepens and moves offshore. There’ll be some building short range S swell up into 3-4ft range at S facing beaches but low quality. Smaller, cleaner waves in protected corners and Bays. Winds should back down in the a’noon and tend more SE but keep expectations pegged very low as far as wave quality goes. 

This weekend (Nov 18-19)

We’re still expecting  light winds tending N’ly on Sat as a small high centre moves offshore from the Central NSW Coast. An off-axis fetch in the Tasman and the remnants of Fridays short range S swell will see a small blend of S swells to 2-3ft at S facing beaches,  biggest and best early before an easing trend sets in. TC Mal enters the swell window later today and we may see some small E/NE swell late Sat, although Sun is a better bet.

Sunday sees another long period S swell pulse. Another powerful low tracking into the Far Southern Tasman- this time at potential storm force- sends more uncommonly long period S swell up the NSW Coast (although better aimed up the Tasman Sea pipe towards Fiji). With swell periods potentially  in the 19-20 second band there’ll be some real juice in the swell. Typically we see a large range of wave heights with these events due to bathymetry effects and subsequent swell focussing, even at S facing beaches. We may see some solid 6-8ft sets at S facing beaches with 8-10ft sets at deepwater S facing reefs later Sun into Mon  with smaller surf elsewhere, although all S facing exposures should see solid sets fill in late morning with biggest sets in the a’noon session. E/NE cyclone swell should see some 3, occ 4ft sets through the morning likely fading later in the day as the system races through the swell window. N’ly winds Sun, lighter NW early and freshening from the N/NE later will favour S facing spots.

Next week (Nov 20 onwards)

A mix of swells Mon, with large easing sets from the S to 6ft at S facing beaches, bigger at select S facing reefs. We’ll see building E-E/NE swells to 3ft (possibly bigger) as winds feed into a trough with the trough bringing a S’ly change.

That trough may form a small low with some developing SE swell possible through Tues into mid/late next week. We’ll see how models look on Fri but this continuing troughy outlook for the Tasman Sea is likely to maintain an active period for surf, even if onshore winds become a little persistent.

Check back Fri and we’ll see how it’s shaping up.


Spudmelon's picture
Spudmelon's picture
Spudmelon Thursday, 16 Nov 2023 at 10:15am

This might be a really dumb question Steve but I was wondering why there is such a big divergence between the forecast notes and the swellnet charts for Sunday. 8-10ft above vs 1-3ft on the charts?

Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2 Thursday, 16 Nov 2023 at 12:00pm

It’s all to do with how long period swells from acute angles interact with the ocean floor at certain spots and bypass others.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 17 Nov 2023 at 10:06am

Swell models resolving long period swells form particular areas poorly and the effect of shelf and local bathymetry as mentioned above.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 17 Nov 2023 at 10:10am

Looks like the swell is also a touch later now and more so for Monday.