Fun week of E/NE trade swell with some small S pulses in the mix

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Fri Mar 8th)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Not much for Sat, just minor E/NE and leftover S swells
  • Maybe some flukey S swell showing at S swell magnets Sat/Sun
  • Building E/NE swells Sun (becoming workable in the a’noon)
  • E/NE swells now looking quite sizey most of next week, at least Mon-Wed, possibly easing a notch  Thurs/Fri
  • Small S swell pulses next week- Mon/Tues, stronger Wed/Thurs
  • Stronger S swell next weekend
  • May see a low pressure system in the Tasman later next weekend
  • Generally active outlook to start Autumn, so check back Mon for latest updates


Good S/SE swell saw 3-4ft surf across the region yesterday with bigger 4ft size across the Hunter. Light morning winds tended NE in the a’noon. Clean conditions again this morning with S-S/SE swells hanging in there, mostly 2ft with S facing beaches offering up 3ft sets, a notch bigger on the Hunter. The big morning tides leading up to the New Moon have swallowed alot of the swell energy for the early.

Monster morning high tide swallowed most of the energy but still some clean lines

This weekend (Mar 9-10)

There was a nice, lingering tail to the S swell event but we’re now entrenched in a classic late Summer pattern with strong high pressure moving into the Tasman, setting up a downstream blocking pattern and very healthy tradewind fetch through the Coral Sea, extending E into the South Pacific and south into the Northern Tasman.

That’ll see a typical wind pattern with SE-E/SE winds in the sub-tropics and a N-NE flow in temperate NSW.

Not much change for Sat’s f/cast. Light winds early (W-NW) tending to light/mod N-NE breezes in the a’noon. Hit up S swell magnets for a small blend of leftover S/SE and S swell wrap from frontal activity SW of Tasmania during this week. There should be some 2 occ. 3ft sets there, with 1-2ft surf elsewhere. 

NE winds freshen on Sun but we should still a window of light NW breezes early morning with a small, weak blend to 1ft or so. Through the day E/NE swell from the southernmost extent of the tradewind fetch in the Northern Tasman should see a slow build up to 2ft in the a’noon, potentially a few bigger 3ft sets at exposed beaches although they will be few and far between.

Next week (Mar 11 onwards)

We’ve still got our late Summer pattern next week with high pressure straddling New Zealand, a monsoon trough strung across Northern Australia extending into the South Pacific and a long, broad tradewind fetch between the two broadscale atmospheric features. The blocking high now just sits a little further north than modelled on Wed, with some passing frontal systems now expected to send workable S pulses up the pipe during the week with a stronger pulse over the weekend as the blocking pattern breaks down.

Still high confidence we’ll see workable E/NE swells to 3ft Mon, building a notch Tues under a N’ly pattern that is likely to see light NW winds in the morning tending to mod N’ly breezes in the a’noon. That will be the dominant swell signal with some minor S swell trains in the mix at low levels.

A trough brings a weak S-SE change Wed but depending on timing we should see clean conditions before the change and a continuation of fun sized 3-4ft E/NE swell. Later in the day we’ll see some stronger S swell show to 2-3ft, even stronger Thurs with 3-4ft sets possible for S facing beaches. Winds should tend light again Thurs as the trough stalls and dissipates but we’ll fine tune those winds on Mon.

We should see E/NE swell fluctuate but generally ease a notch through the last part of next week as the blocking pattern breaks down. An expected low pressure centre near New Caledonia now looks to drift away to the SE (instead of retrograding back into the Coral Sea)- that should see a slow easing in size from that source into and over next weekend.

Counteracting that will be a stronger S swell from a frontal intrusion into the Tasman later next week (see below). There’s still some substantial model divergence so we’ll keep a lid on any froth but a ballpark size range of 4-5ft at S facing beaches during Sat easing Sun. We’ll finesse that on Mon.

Winds look tricky as an inland trough and potential low look to form off the Far South Coast, as well as a possible tropical low off the QLD coast. It’s possible we may see something juicy spin up next weekend so tune in for details on Mon.

Seeya then and have a great weekend!


sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Friday, 8 Mar 2024 at 3:22pm

A week of south swells demolished every bank at my local 2.5k ..back to swallow close outs..hope this east swells forms something is horrible at the moment..

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Monday, 11 Mar 2024 at 10:27am

Bit like that around Cronulla too. Just starting to get a few half decent banks and it is back to straight and highly tidal - although the long period lines could be partly to blame.

tail high to the sky's picture
tail high to the sky's picture
tail high to the sky Monday, 11 Mar 2024 at 9:59am

How nice was the water this morning?! Beautiful conditions and almost no breeze. Surf was a wobbly 3ft on the sets and that incoming tide completely killed it. Haven't checked the data but the period seemed very short. It felt more like a windswell rather than a trade swell.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 11 Mar 2024 at 12:27pm

Swell started to muscle up in period and energy later morning, 3ft+ across Manly on the sets.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Monday, 11 Mar 2024 at 2:28pm

Smoking this morning NE winds destroyed it but fun shape