Small S swells are an entree to a larger main course from the S this weekend

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed Jan 31st)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Small mixed bag Thurs AM with some traces of long period S swell, light winds tending S/SE then variable in the a’noon
  • Early offshores Fri with small S swells, kicking a notch in the a’noon with mod SE winds
  • Mod S swell Sat with stronger long period pulse in the a’noon early SE winds tending mod/fresh N/NE in the a’noon
  • Easing S swells Sun tending to NE windswell in the a’noon under fresh NE winds
  • Sizey NE windswell Mon AM with variable winds possible
  • Small S pulse possible Mon PM/Tues
  • Potential  for SE-S/SE swell from mid next week- low confidence due to model divergence 
  • Tradewind swells likely to filter down to temperate NSW later next week


Small, pulsey S quadrant swells have provided some workable energy since Mon with Tues seeing mostly 2ft surf, with a small pulse of 3ft S swell reported through the day, only showing at S exposed breaks. Conditions were OK under light winds, tending NE in the a’noon. Similar sized surf today, mostly small and weak with 2ft sets, with S magnets topping out at 2-3ft. Light winds are tending NE before a S’ly change expected after lunch, which will clock around S/SE-SE through the evening.

Small S swells under grey skies favouring the Hunter for size and shape

This week (Jan 31-Feb 2)

The high pressure belt is weak and moving at a more N’ly latitude than we’ve seen this summer, with a troughy pattern in the Tasman and some frontal activity under the SE of the continent continuing. A much stronger front and parent low tracks NE into the lower Tasman late this week with a broad band of gales to strong gales expected to generate some strong S swell over the weekend. The monsoon remains active with a small sub-tropical low moving off the QLD coast where it may undergo further development in the medium term. A typical summer tradewind band cradles this low next week with plenty of E quadrant swell expected, favouring the sub-tropics for size.

In the short run todays S’ly change runs out of steam quickly through tomorrow with a weak trough moving north from the Hunter bringing a light S-SE flow, tending to variable sea breezes in the a’noon. Not much surf to speak of, just some small mixed swell trains from local sources (S-SE) and traces of longer period S swell in the a’noon to 2ft. Enough for a grovel at S facing beaches.

Small, weak surf continues into Fri with 2ft  or less of weak S and E swells through the morning and extending into the post-lunch period. Through the a’noon we should see a modest increase in new S swell up to 3ft (bigger 3-4ft on the Hunter)  from precursor fetches in Bass Strait and below Tasmania. Light land breezes early tend to mod SE-E/SE breezes in the a’noon so keep expectations pegged low for quality.

This weekend (Feb 3-4)

We’re still looking at strong S swell this weekend as a complex low and front drive gales to strong gales through the lower Tasman. The bulk of the swell Sat morning will be mid period S in the 3-5ft range. By the a’noon we’ll see a much stronger pulse of longer period S swell fill in which should see 6ft sets at S facing beaches and some outliers at S facing deepwater adjacent reefs. Morning winds from the SE-E/SE (SW inshore early north of the Harbour) now look to tend N/NE-NE in the a’noon at fresh paces south of Jervis Bay.

That longer period pulse eases off o’night and Sun sees the back end of the swell revert back to mid period S in the 3-4ft range early, easing during the day. Fresh N/NE winds look to whip up local windswell in the a’noon to 2-3ft. 

Next week (Feb5 onwards)

NE winds really freshen proximate to the NSW Central Coast o/night Sun into Mon, with a sizey NE windswell expected in the water Mon morning. We should see size in the 4ft range- bigger on the South Coast with early N/NW winds tending variable around a trough line that looks to oscillate around the Illawarra-Sydney region. We may see offshore tending SW-S winds around the trough line and continuing N’lies on the Central Coast and Hunter. We’ll finesse that Fri once we get some more clarity.

Another deep, but more zonal low passing under Tas later int the weekend brings some S swell wrap Mon into Tues, with S facing beaches seeing some 2-3ft sets later Mon into Tues although the poorly aligned fetch means extra flukiness.

Looks like the trough line lingers into Tues with uncertain winds - possibly N’ly or variable depending on how it plays out. NE windswell will supply some small leftovers to 2ft with some short range S swell possible depending on how the trough behaves.

High degree of uncertainty over the fate of the trough from mid next week. ECMWF suggests the trough will be captured by the leading edge of a new high pressure cell, deepening and leading to a major SE surge up the Eastern Seaboard with moderate amounts of SE swell mid next week and some S/SE swell linked to a trough near New Zealand.

GFS suggests a much more modest SE flow from mid next week with small amounts of SE-S/SE swell mixed with some E swell from the tradewind band in the Coral and Northern Tasman Seas.

Small E swells should provide workable E swell options later next week with juicier options still on the tabkle as low pressure lingers in the Coral Sea.

Lets take a look at that on Fri.

Seeya then.


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Wednesday, 31 Jan 2024 at 2:00pm

Pure shit today 100m close outs

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 31 Jan 2024 at 2:03pm

Water's warm at least...

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Wednesday, 31 Jan 2024 at 2:24pm

True it’s awesome water temp

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Thursday, 1 Feb 2024 at 5:57pm

Saturday is looking juicy..some solid waves!!