Tricky, dynamic week as approaching trough brings swell and wind changes

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 27th Nov)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Small flush of S swell Tues, easing Wed but onshore winds a problem
  • Building E/NE-NE swells Wed as trough deepens off South Coast with freshening NE winds
  • Window of favourable offshore winds likely Thurs with plenty of E/NE-NE swell about
  • Good winds again Fri with swell clocking around more E-E/SE
  • Fun waves Sat with E/SE swell and light winds
  • Easing surf Sun
  • Another S, possibly SE swell next week as low forms east of Tasmania, low confidence in specifics, check back Wed for updates


Just a small blend of swells for Sat, offering up some workable beachbreaks in the 2ft range with a brief window of clean conditions before NE winds kicked in. Similar but a smidge smaller Sun with another window of morning light winds before NE-E/NE winds kicked in. Traces of long period S swell showed on Southern NSW buoys but didn’t amount to much in the inshore wave zone apart from some 3-4ft sets at S magnets. S swell in the water today is a mix of long period sources to 3ft+ at S facing beaches and minor NE swell with a S’ly flow reaching north across most of the region through the morning, although the Hunter was still enjoying a NW-W flow for the morning session. Another dynamic week ahead with a complex trough expected to form a surface low off the NSW South Coast mid week, details below.

A few sets from the S still in the water, clean early on the Hunter

This week (Nov 27- Dec 1)

We’ve got a large high well south of the Bight, with inland troughs linked to a small low East of Tasmania, which is moving away quite rapidly to the East. A complex trough of low pressure moving through the interior is expected to bud off a small surface low this week, somewhere off Southern NSW or the Gippsland coast. Most of the infeed into the system and resultant flow off the southern flank of the low is now focussed on Southern NSW and Tasmania (compared to Mondays notes).

In the short run we’ll see an onshore flow develop as an arm of the trough linked to the small low drifts up towards the MNC. Straight E’ly winds, freshening in the a’noon will make for ugly surface conditions but if you can get past that some small S swell generated by the low will see size to 3ft at S exposed breaks, bigger 3-4ft on the Hunter. Short range E’ly windswell will bump up a notch in the a’noon as well. It’ll be a jumbled mess but there will be swell energy amongst it if you are keen.

Wed sees the inland trough deepen as it approaches the South Coast of NSW with NE-E/NE winds infeeding into the trough freshening. There’s a local fetch, focussed more on Southern NSW and a more distant fetch off the North Coast related to another small, troughy area off the sub-tropical coast. Swells from both sources will supply swell up in the 3ft range through Wed under a fresh NE flow. The caveat will be much bigger surf on the South Coast where the E-E/NE infeed is much stronger. Strong/gale force onshores and large storm surf are likely to develop from Ulladulla to the border through Wed with a chance for an offshore window as the low moves off the Far South Coast late in the day. 

Thursday looks tricky. The morning should be good (as modelled) as low pressure moves off the Gippsland coast and we get an offshore out-flow of NW-W winds extending up through Central NSW. Clean conditions and 3-4ft of NE-E/NE swell look likely, depending on the final strength of the fetch. Another small, troughy area then looks to form off the Sydney region, bringing light E’ly winds. Pencil in Thurs.

And Friday. Those weak winds around a stalled troughy area off Sydney bring a light offshore flow for the morning with light a’noon seabreezes. Swell from the E’ly infeed into the low should hold size in the 3ft range (more E-E/SE in direction) with plenty of fun waves on offer. Not a bad start to Summer.

This weekend (Dec 2-3)

An approaching front looks to spawn another small low near Tasmania on Sat with an offshore flow tending SW across the f/cast region. Fun sized E/SE swell should hold 3ft sets through the morning with a slow easing trend from lunch-time.

Small mixed bag for Sun as E/SE swell ebbs away and S’ly winds establish. A few clean 2 footers for the morning will become small 1-2ft through the day. 

Next week (Dec 4 onwards)

There’s some surf potential for early next week as a low pressure system drifts east of Tasmania. Models are divergent with EC suggesting a stronger system stalling near the South Island and supplying S, then S/SE-SE pulses next week, up in the 3ft, 3-4ft range.

GFS had a weaker system which drifts south out of the swell window and only supplies modest S swell in the 2ft range later Mon into Tues.

We’ll see how models look when we come back Wed.

Following that looks like a quiet period of easing swells later next week, with some NE windswell possible late next week as another trough system pushes through.

Check back Wed for the latest update.


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 27 Nov 2023 at 6:53pm

Something to get excited about good days ahead..

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 28 Nov 2023 at 12:09pm


Rip the pit's picture
Rip the pit's picture
Rip the pit Tuesday, 28 Nov 2023 at 3:23pm

Any sneaky update on Thursday morning.
I’m Frothing!
Is the NE swell fetch still looking the goods or swinging to North?