Tasman Sea a hot, soupy mess with plenty of potential for next week after a fun weekend

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri Jan 12th)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Fun sized E-E/NE swells this weekend from retrograding fetch in South Pacific, best winds Sat AM, S’ly change Sun
  • S/SE-SE windswell increases Sun PM under SE wind surge
  • Building SE swells Mon, tending E/SE and easing from Tues
  • Bit of S swell in the mix Mon/Tues
  • Potential E swell pulses next week as small lows likely to form in unstable, troughy Tasman Sea
  • Possible chunky S-SE swell if low forms E of Tasmania and moves off South Coast- check back Mon for revisions


Easing S-S/SE swells yesterday supplied some serviceable 2 occ. 3ft surf, clean in the morning under light winds before an onshore SE tending E’ly flow kicked up and made a mess of things. Surf has remained pretty scrappy for the most part into today, although winds are lighter across the Hunter where surf is a better quality 2ft. Elsewhere, size is similar but quality is on the low side of the scale. Big morning high tides have swallowed up much of the energy and we should see  more happening this a’noon as water drains off the banks and E-E/NE swell perks up to 3ft. 

A few fun glassy peaks on the Hunter

This weekend (Jan 13-14)

Not much change to the weekend f/cast. Still expecting light winds Sat morning which should tend to variable/land breezes early before clocking around NE before ending up as a mod E-E/NE’ly flow. The southwards protrusion of winds from a high and retrograding trough will generate fun sized E’ly swells, mostly in the 3ft range (bigger 3-4ft at good E swell spots).

Most of that energy persists into Sun morning - just a notch down from the peak-in the 2-3ft range from the E. We should see a brief window of lighter S quadrant winds Sun morning as a small trough off the Sydney coast starts to wind up before stronger S-SE winds become established, confining clean conditions to sheltered bays with a northwards facing aspect. Enough energy in those Bays for a fun wave. Depending on how quickly the trough winds up we may see some short range SE swell build late in the day. 

Next week (Jan 15 onwards)

A monsoon trough sits over Northern Australia terminating in the Coral Sea, with a strong high moving into the Tasman to start next week. The resulting SE surge up through the Tasman into the Coral Sea (aided by a residual area of troughiness) generates plenty of swell as the fetch spreads out across the Tasman. 

Under current modelling we’re looking at a day of mod/fresh SE winds to start the new week with short range SE swell to 3ft building to a chunky 4-5ft during the day. A broad but moderate strength front pushing into the Tasman below the high (see below) will send some S swell northwards, arriving in the a’noon but mostly lost in the dominant short range swell signal. Smaller surf at more sheltered locations.

The surge moves north quickly through later Mon into Tues with a high in the central Tasman Tues directing a more E’ly flow, although wind strengths along the coast should ease off significantly from Mon. A chunky blend of S and dominant E/SE swell to 4ft will be easing through the day, probably offset by easing winds in the a’noon.

Very low confidence in the f/cast from mid next week as models struggle to resolve the southwards extension off the monsoon trough which buds off through the southern Coral Sea and into the Tasman. We may see troughs form small lows next week in the Northern Tasman, Coral Sea and near the North Island, each with E’ly fetches generating small swell pulses.

Models are still interested in a trough deepening to a low either E of Tasmania or off the Gippsland coast, possibly moving up off the NSW South Coast - enhanced by extra warm water pooled up in that region. Infeed into that system may generate E/NE-NE swell later next week, the return S’ly to SE flow is a chance to generate S-SE swell into next weekend, possibly sizey.

We can expect pulses of swell from the E-E/NE from mid next week at a minimum- with potential for something juicier if one of the lows really winds up. 

With the current ultra troughy, unstable pattern and the Tasman Sea a hot, soupy mess we can also expect revisions, possibly major on Mon.

Seeya then and have a great weekend!


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Friday, 12 Jan 2024 at 11:01am

Slight increase NE swell as tide drops..just surfable

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 12 Jan 2024 at 2:09pm

Pulsing more now, 2-3ft sets Manly. 23°C water, as warm as it gets.

etarip's picture
etarip's picture
etarip Friday, 12 Jan 2024 at 3:31pm

Great conditions for frothing groms (6 and 8). 2 sessions yesterday, already had 2 sessions today and getting hassled to go for another!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 12 Jan 2024 at 3:34pm


Parko_70's picture
Parko_70's picture
Parko_70 Saturday, 13 Jan 2024 at 11:23am

Some fun nuggets before close of play on a decent enough high tide bank down my way yesterday evening.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Saturday, 13 Jan 2024 at 12:18pm

Scored some decent 3-4ft this morning broke the dought of terrible wave this year !!!