A mix of local and flukey swell sources- enough to get wet most days

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 22nd Nov)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Small blend of S and SE swells Thurs with onshore S-SE winds
  • Small blend of S and SE swells continues into Fri with onshore winds
  • Small mixed bag of S/SE-SE swells Sat, continuing into Sun with some developing NE windswell
  • Small long period S swell pulse Sun, easing Mon
  • Another troughy, unstable week next week with possibly sizey SE swell (onshore winds likely) as low pressure lingers in Tasman


A mix of S swell and some E-NE swell supplied a workable mix yesterday, topping out around 4ft on the Hunter and Central Coast, smaller 3-4ft across most other regions. N’ly quadrant winds favoured S facing beaches until a troughy S’ly change shifted the clean conditions to more sheltered bays around mid-morning in the Sydney region, later a’noon across the Hunter. Weak S’ly winds this morning are offering up clean conditions at sheltered spots and generally north of the Harbour, more gurgly elsewhere with some workable E/NE and S swells in the 2-3ft range. Nothing incredible, but very shreddable.

Small, clean mixed bag with a full house sign up

This week (Nov 22-24)

We currently have a trough moving north before stalling out on the Mid North Coast, sandwiched between a high pressure belt moving at Tasmanian longitudes. It’s a weak synoptic pattern with no major swell sources- a passing front weakens as it traverses the Tasman, leaving an off-axis fetch parallel with New Zealand. There should be enough minor swell sources of no real quality to stay wet through the short term.

In the short run the stalled trough maintains a S, tending SE flow across the region. The localised fetch looks to generate some short range S tending S/SE swell through the day. In the 2ft range through the morning and bumping up a notch in the a’noon. Any SW flow is likely confined to beaches north of the Harbour and brief before the synoptic flow over-rides morning land breezes. 

High pressure sliding East of Tasmanian on Fri sees the onshore flow tend more E then E/NE-NE in the a’noon with a freshening flow, although if the trough stays more stationary we’ll see SE tending E winds. Either way the onshore flow will lead to junky surf with mostly short range S/SE-SE swells to 2-3ft. Models are suggesting some traces of long period S swell which may show some 2ft sets at S facing magnets from lunch-time. Possibly worth a look if winds tend more NE in the a’noon but keep expectations low.

This weekend (Nov 25-26)

Light winds look likely for Sat, for the morning at least with a mod N/NE flow in the a’noon. A small blend of short range S/SE-SE and S swells from the lingering off-axis fetch near New Zealand should offer up enough energy in the 2ft range (occ. 3ft sets) to get a shortboard up on the plane. Light W-NW winds tending N then NE in the a’noon. Depending on the wind strength we may see a small signal of NE windswell in the a’noon.

Flukey winds on Sun as a trough of low pressure forms off the South Coast to Gippsland region, possibly tending more W/NW-NW through the morning. A late S’ly change can’t be ruled out, more likely on the South Coast. Similar small mixed bag for Sun with some long period S swell possible in the a’noon. This is from a polar low skirting the ice shelf so is likely to be very fluky. With swell periods in the 16-18 second band some outliers in the 3-4ft range at select S magnets are possible. 

Next week (Nov 27 onwards)

More of the same tricky, troughy outlook next week. 

Leftover S swells and small NE windswell supply small surf Mon, in the 2ft range with a few bigger sets at S facing beaches. A complex trough of low pressure in the Tasman looks to bring a S’ly flow Mon- although revisions are expected.

This trough of low-pressure becomes slow moving in the Tasman next week under current modelling and should be the main swell source. There’s reasonable model agreement that the trough will deepen and a reasonable fetch of SE winds along the southern flank of the trough will generate building swells possibly as early as later Tues, more likely Wed.

Winds don’t look ideal, being from the S/SE-E through the Wed-Fri period next week but we should see SE swells up into the 3-4ft range during this period, with a possible upgrade in size if the low becomes deeper and more organised. 

Easing swells then look likely into the first weekend of Summer. 

Lets see how it looks come Fri. 


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Wednesday, 22 Nov 2023 at 5:08pm

Hopefully those flukey south swells hit over the weekend.something over 2ft would be nice