Active outlook with long period S swells and NE windswell in the short term

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri Feb 2)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Early offshores Fri with small S swells, kicking a notch in the a’noon with mod SE winds
  • Mod S swell Sat with strong long period pulse in the a’noon early S-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
  • S pulse Mon PM, easing Tues- flukey but showing strongly at some S swell magnets due to long periods
  • Potential  for SE-S/SE swell from mid next week- still  low confidence due to model divergence 
  • Tradewind swells likely to filter down to temperate NSW later next week
  • More S swell on the radar for next weekend


Small, pulsey S quadrant swells have continued this week, punching above their weight at certain swell magnets. Yesterday saw mostly 2ft surf with some S swell magnets seeing 3 and even 4ft sets under a morning SW-S flow which tended variable then NE through the a’noon. Still some  3ft sets in the water this morning at S swell magnets under light/variable land breezes with a strong front and low passing into the Tasman and a trough bringing a S-SE flow through the day. We should see some new S swell show up this a’noon from gales out of Bass Strait.

Chunky sets on the Hunter

This weekend (Feb 3-4)

A deep low with strong gales currently tracking in a NE direction SE of Tasmania justifies an upgrade in size for this weekend. Thus we can expect moderate mid period S swell tomorrow morning to be overlapped mid-late morning by a much stronger pulse of S swell in the 14-16 second period band with strong sets to 6ft+ at S facing beaches and deepwater adjacent S facing reefs showing 8-10ft sets. Winds will be funky in the morning with some residual S’ly lump as a remnant S’y flow tends SE then E/NE to NE in the a’noon which should see some offshore to cross-shore surf at S facing reefs and beaches. Experts only at those spots. 

That pulse eases off o/night with clean leftovers to 3-4ft at S facing beaches Sun morning easing further during the day. NW-N winds early will tend N-NE and freshen through the day kicking up some NE windswell by close of play.

Next week (Feb5 onwards)

A high in the Eastern Tasman and an approaching inland low (remnants of TC Kirrily) really freshen the NE flow proximate to the NSW Coast o/night Sun into Mon with a sizey NE windswell expected for Mon. Expect surf in the 4ft range with early NW-N winds. The wind outlook then looks tricky as a troughy area approaches the coast. Looks like a NW to variable flow most likely from Sydney to the Illawarra with a lighter NE-E flow from Sydney northwards. Either way, keep tabs on local winds, they are likely to become more favourable in the a’noon as coastal pressure gradients slacken. NE windswell eases in the a’noon. A bombing low passing under Tasmania this weekend now looks to send a stronger S swell up the pipe arriving Mon a’noon. It’ll be fickle with a wide disparity in sizes but S swell magnets should see some 3-4ft (occ. 5) sets through the a’noon.

Small S swell leftovers Tues along with some minor NE swell with both sources in the 2ft range. The trough brings a widespread S-S/SE flow through Tues so you’ll need to hit up protected spots for a small, clean wave.

We’ve still got substantial model divergence from mid next week with the fate of a trough the area of disagreement. ECMWF is still suggesting a strong S-S/SE flow up the coast and a long angled trough through the Tasman anchoring this flow and generating plenty of swell from the same direction into the second half of next week. A secondary SE surge then reinforces this pattern into next weekend, bringing another round of S-SE swell during this period. 

GFS has a much weaker trough system and SE fetch through the Central Tasman, wth modest SE-E/SE swells from mid next week.  GFS does come on board with a reinforcing S-SE flow tied to a new high moving in from the Bight and a frontal system tracking through the lower Tasman late next week or weekend suggesting more S swell, possibly sizey.

Common to both models is a robust tradewind flow through the Coral and Northern Tasman which will favour the sub-tropics for size but should see E quadrant swell filtering down to temperate NSW later next week and into the weekend 10-11/2. A lingering tropical low near New Caledonia may deepen and move back towards the QLD coast during this period, with uncertain surf potential at this early stage. 

It’s a very active outlook so check back in Mon for the latest revisions.

In the meantime, have a great weekend with the upcoming S swell!


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Friday, 2 Feb 2024 at 1:30pm

The south swell is already filling in here ..

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 2 Feb 2024 at 1:31pm

Cheers Sean.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Friday, 2 Feb 2024 at 1:36pm

Solid 6 ft hitting south reef

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Saturday, 3 Feb 2024 at 8:04pm

That was one epic day of insane definitely spiked around lunchtime..some incredible bombs ..

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus Saturday, 3 Feb 2024 at 8:40pm

Very solid today at south magnets. Great quality swell.

Deanocarve's picture
Deanocarve's picture
Deanocarve Saturday, 3 Feb 2024 at 10:07pm

Lots of bombs and clean up sets at DeeWhy plenty of Tow Action 10-15 foot at German Bank!!

Parko_70's picture
Parko_70's picture
Parko_70 Saturday, 3 Feb 2024 at 11:09pm

Was very solid in my neck of the woods....

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Sunday, 4 Feb 2024 at 11:41am

Stoked for that.

Amazing, considering how strong that S'ly groundswell was, how little reached north of Coffs.

Would have thought 5-6ft at S exposed breaks here today- it's a weak 2ft with the odd 3-4ft set.

There were a few S swells like that over the last 12 months- really strong, long period swells that barely showed at all north of Coffs.

SimonJ's picture
SimonJ's picture
SimonJ Sunday, 4 Feb 2024 at 8:20pm

Finally scored a few late this arvo. Had to wait til 7pm to get an un crowded wave. The swell was fading fast.
U think it's gonna go back up to 4ft tomorrow?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Sunday, 4 Feb 2024 at 8:23pm

Spike for the afternoon.