Nothing from the tropics, small mixed bag this week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon Jan 22nd)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • E/NE swell in the mix Tues with a slow fade out into Wed
  • S-S/SE swell slowly eases Tues into Wed as winds shift E through NE
  • Small workable NE windswell this week from Wed-Fri- expect a few ups and downs but remaining generally rideable, possible pockets of good winds
  • Small S-S/SE swells this weekend with SE winds
  • Small and weak next week with possible small E/SE-SE swell later next week


A few fun waves over the weekend if a little underwhelming at times and fickle. Sat saw mix of S and E swell to 2ft, a notch bigger to 3ft on the Hunter. Morning winds were light before NE seabreezes kicked. Swell from the E/NE was a little slow to fill in Sun leading to an underwhelming morning of 2-3ft surf swamped by a high tide. Light NW winds did tend N’ly before laying down in the a’noon just as swell muscled up providing some much needed juice with bigger sets to 3-4ft. An o’night S’ly change has left conditions wind affected this morning with fresh S’lies and a mix of E/NE swell and building short range S swell to 2-3ft. 

E/NE swell just starting to show yesterday- an improvement occured in the a'noon

This week (Jan 22-26)

All the headline action is in the tropics with a cyclone (TC Kirrily) expected to form within the next 24-36hrs in the monsoon trough NE of Cairns. A coastal crossing in N.QLD now looks the most likely outcome with limited surf potential for temperate NSW. Looking south to more local sources then we have a relatively weak high (1022 hPa) moving under Tasmania with a long trough and front in the Tasman directing a S’ly fetch through the Central-Southern Tasman. Once that swell source fades we’re back to typical summer sources with a NE windswell expected late this week and a minor S swell event into the weekend.

In the short run and todays fresh S’lies will tend S/SE-SE and be with us tomorrow before pressure gradient slacken quickly and winds lay down in the a’noon and tend to light/mod E to E/NE breezes. If you can handle the ordinary surface conditions S-S/SE swell to 3-4ft (bigger 4ft+ on the Hunter)and pulsey inconsistent E/NE-E swell to 3ft will supply some punchy surf.

Winds shift N’ly into Wed with leftovers from the S/SE and E- both swells on the wane but supplying some inconsistent 3ft sets becoming less likely and smaller through the morning. By the a’noon we should see a full strength NE wind in excess of 20 kts, gusting to 25 with developing NE windswell, up to 2ft or so if you can handle surfing in the fetch.

The latter part of the week will see NE windswell and current modelling suggests some subtle ups and downs as a proximate fetch expands and contracts in response to an approaching trough. That goes for local winds too. Thurs should start N’ly with NE windswell to 2-3ft. We may see a period of light/variable winds or even offshores as a trough approaches (more likely south of Sydney). That’s not set in stone so check back Wed and we’ll finesse it.

Friday looks more likely for an offshore morning before a weak S’ly change but again, check back Wed as timing is likely to be revised.

We’ll pencil in more NE windswell - potentially up a notch to 3ft as windspeeds increase into the trough line.

This weekend (Jan 27-28)

A fairly strong onshore S/SE-SE flow is expected Sat as a trough moves northwards off theCentral NSW Coast and a frontal system passes under Tasmania. Mostly short range S-S/SE swell is expected in the 2ft range, with very average conditions.

Similar surf size Sun- just small levels of S/SE swell to 2ft at best. We may see winds ease off and tend more E or even NE in the a’noon, but best keep expectations low. 

Next week (Jan 29 onwards)

Not a great deal of action for the f/cast region heading into next week. After a lot of model flip flopping it seems TC Kirrily will head inland although there are still model runs suggesting it re-emerges into the Coral Sea and joins up with a weak trough to form a trough of low pressure. We’ll see. That won’t have any effect on temperate NSW so we’re looking at a period of small, weak surf into next week, mostly 1-2ft surf at best with a light onshore flow. Expect that Mon-Wed at least.

Further ahead and the a low pressure system tracks behind the North Island next week, potentially re-forming near the top of the North island. A  poorly aligned fetch off the west coast may supply some small E/SE swell late next week. We’ll see how it looks on Wed.

Otherwise the tropics remains active so we’ll keep monitoring that - although the focus of most of the modelled activity is over the continent there is a large area of low pressure expected to form near Vanuatu later next week. We’ll keep eyes on that region and report back Wed.

Seeya then.


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 22 Jan 2024 at 8:10pm

We did have some nice banks before and after the NE swells now the south swell has destroyed that again my local
( rip) was good while it lasted!!!