Sizey S swell on the radar for next week as strong low enters the Tasman

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed Feb 28th)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Small local NE windswell developing Wed PM/Thurs
  • Possible window of good winds late Thurs in advance of S’ly change
  • Easing back to small late this week and into Sat
  • Small blend of  S swells Sun
  • Sizey S swells  Mon with fresh S’ly tending SE winds
  • Strong, but easing S swells Tues/Wed next week with improving winds
  • Small trade swells possibly filtering down to temperate NSW in the medium term- check back Fri for updates


Small S swells yesterday to 2ft, bigger on the Hunter with a modest increase in the a’noon occurring during onshore winds. Conditions are cleaner this morning with an offshore NW-W flow early before winds tend NE and freshen. Leftover S swells to 2-3ft at S facing beaches with some bigger 4ft sets on the Hunter are on offer. We’ll see NE windswell developing over the short term, details below.

Fun peaks on the Hunter

This week (Feb 28-Mar 1)

Weak high pressure (1022hPa) in Tasman is directing a modest onshore flow across the Eastern Seaboard. SE-E in the sub-tropics and NE across temperate NSW. Pressure gradients tighten over the short term as a cut-off low approaches from the Bight leading to an increased N-NE fetch off the Southern NSW Coast and increasing NE windswell through this region and extending down to Tasmania’s North East Coast.  Some quiet days then follow before a much more robust front and low enter the lower Tasman late in the weekend driving some sizey S swell up the coast early next week.

In the short run we’ll see fresh/strong NE tending N’ly winds tomorrow and some workable NE windswell. The fetch is better placed for Southern NSW and Tas so expect 2-3ft surf across the Hunter-Sydney region, bigger on the South Coast. A trough advances north during the day with a late tilt to the NW on the radar, leading to improved surface conditions. This wind change will likely benefit south of Sydney due to timing. A S’ly change now looks likely after dark. 

Not much to end the week and Summer. The S’ly change runs out of puff very quickly so mod S’lies early will lay down and tend variable through the day. Small leftovers from the NE and a weak blend of S and E/NE swells will struggle to get much over 1-1.5ft, so bring the appropriate equipment if you are desiring a slide. 

This weekend (Mar 2-3)

 Tiny, weak surf Sat morning with light winds so good for a snorkel or rockfish. We’ll see a trough in advance of a frontal system bring a S-SE flow during the day with a possibility of a minor increase in short range S-S/SE swell under winds from the same direction. If we do see a bump, it won’t be much more than a messy 2ft by close of play.

The trough dissipates Sun, with light SE winds, possibly tending more E-NE through the a’noon or remaining SE depending on the movement of the trough and an inland trough and small high cell in the Tasman. Not much size expected, although we will see some new S swell from a precursor frontal system which transits the lower Tasman Fri/Sat (see below). Earlier stages of this system bring some longer period S swell wrap into the NSW Coast with some 2-3ft sets likely through Sun. While this is happening we’ll see a much stronger system, strong gales expected to form SE of Tasmania during Sun. 

Next week (Mar 4 onwards)

Models are in good agreement now for strong gales to push NE of Tas as a deep low transits the Tasman Sun/Mon into an already active sea state. By Mon morning we should be part way through an aggressive building phase in new S swell, with size jumping from 3-4ft to 6-8ft, bigger 10-12ft on open bommies. Winds will be an issue as new high pressure moving E of Tasmania sets up a ridge with a S-SE flow. 

By Tues that flow will weaken rapidly and tend NE in the a’noon, opening up S facing beaches. Still plenty of strong S swell Tues with sets to 6-8ft at S facing beaches, easing a notch in the a’noon .

Still looking good for Wed with swell tending more S/SE from winds along the SW flank of the low as it approaches the South Island. Expect 4-5ft surf with a few bigger sets possible and light NW-N’ly winds tending NE and freshening in the a’noon.

The rest of the week should see easing swells with a few fun mop-up waves Thurs and more marginal surf Fri with winds from the N.

A tradewind band in the Coral Sea extends out into the South Pacific next week but wind speeds are only at moderate/fresh breeze strength so not much swell from that source filters down to temperate NSW into next weekend. We’ll see how it looks on Fri.

Frontal activity looks to be steered away by the high pressure belt so any S swells will be small and flukey.

The tropics is still bubbling away with a large area of low pressure along the monsoon trough between PNG and the Solomon’s worthy of monitoring for any signs of development through the medium term.

In short, nothing too much on the radar apart from the upcoming S swell so best bet is to saddle up for this event, even if winds might be a bit tricky.

Check back Fri for the latest.


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Thursday, 29 Feb 2024 at 12:45pm

Bluebottles absolutely smashed me this morning..waves were terrible just to make the sting more potent