Still a bit iffy but a better outlook for the weekend as low pressure trough moves offshore

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed May 8th)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Small S groundswell pulse Thurs with light morning winds
  • Light morning winds Fri before E’lies strengthen in the a’noon
  • E-E/SE swell holds Thurs, into Fri boosting a little Fri a’noon
  • Increase in E/SE swell Sat, holding Sun
  • Likely light winds this weekend for Sydney north, as trough of low pressure moves off coast- periods off offshore wind possible
  • Stronger S pulse Sat, easing from Sun
  • Surf holding Mon before easing with small E swells next week


Mostly short/mid period E/SE swell through yesterday and into today. Size around 3-4ft yesterday (occ. bigger set) with an onshore flow and the odd window of lighter winds. Size eased a notch from that source into today, with a pulse of long period S groundswell across S facing beaches and there was a window of cleaner conditions for the early with W winds before the SE flow kicked back in and blew out most spots. Tricky options for the keen, in short.

Some energy around at open beaches this morning with semi-clean conditions before the sou-easter kicked back in

This week (May 8-10)

No great change to this very sluggish pattern as strong high pressure near Tasmania gets reinforced by a new cell and this peanut high straddles Tasmania before inching into the Tasman. The resulting high pressure ridge is leading to deep onshore flows and a trough along the coast is expected to move offshore Sun and form a broad trough of low pressure early next week. That should see improved conditions north of the low pressure trough. Read on for details.

In the short run we’ll see winds shift more onshore E’ly but at lighter paces, allowing morning land breezes to develop. A mix of E’ly swell to 2-3ft and S’ly groundswell to 3 occ. 4ft at S exposed breaks will offer up a few options until the onshore wind kicks in.

E’ly winds again Fri, with a morning land breeze likely of shorter duration as the onshore flow strengthens courtesy of the reinforcing high. That’ll see E-E/SE swell to 2 occ. 3ft likely boosted into the a’noon from short range sources. Expect a very messed up line-up in straight onshore E’lies at mod paces.

This weekend (May11-12)

Looks like an improved though still tricky outlook for the weekend, as a trough deepens and moves offshore. 

Sat is still a bit of an iffy prospect but there’s better odds we’ll see a troughy area of Sydney lead to light winds and possibly a wind reversal (offshore) depending on how things play out. 

E quadrant swell from disconnected fetches  in the Tasman should see a nice boost in size to 3-4 occ. bigger set and long period S swell from a storm force polar low sends inconsistent sets to 3-4ft with the occ. bigger set at direct S facing beaches and reefs, likely 5-6ft on the Hunter. 

Sunday looks similarly tricky for winds as the trough of low pressure swirls around offshore from the Central NSW Coast. We should see light winds, with periods of offshore flow likely. They may tend SE and then SW in the a’noon north of Sydney with the Illawarra seeing a more SE-E/SE flow. We’ll finesse this outlook Fri. Surf wise, workable E swells to 3-4ft with S swell throwing up the odd 3-4ft set at S facing beaches (4-6ft on the Hunter), easing in the a’noon.

Next week (May 13 onwards)

Models now seem in reasonable agreement that the trough of low pressure will drift off into the Tasman (see below) with no real deepening of any significance.

If this holds, we’ll see a general easing trend set in with Mon holding 3 occ. 4ft surf before softening during the day and a S-SE flow depending on the movement of the low.

Easing surf then sets in from Tues with a small E-E/NE swell from winds through the Northern Tasman and South Pacific keeping a floor under wave heights. Likely 2 to very occ. 3ft Tues, dropping further through Wed.

Winds look good though with very weak pressure gradients seeing light land and seabreezes. 

Further ahead and nothing amazing on the radar. We may see some S swell into next weekend although models are very divergent.

The next high cell is tracking well to the south of the Bight, suggesting another SE surge early week 20/5.

We’ll see how all that looks on Fri, as well as dial in the weekend wind f/cast.

Seeya then. 


stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 9 May 2024 at 12:52pm

Just a diabolically bad run of swell and wind, made worse because it's occurred during the most anticipated months of the year. People drawing parallels with the recent La Nina years but where I am - the Illawarra - the only similarity is the rain. The weather's been cooler, swell has been extremely short fetch and mostly SE.

During La Nina the swell was mostly east, weather was warm, but yes, it rained a lot.

MrBungle's picture
MrBungle's picture
MrBungle Friday, 10 May 2024 at 8:46am

Would have to agree. Makes it hard to get motivated when it's rainy and average at best conditions.

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake Thursday, 9 May 2024 at 7:12pm

Speaking of the Illawarra, it looks like another drenching ahead for this weekend. Old mate on the ABC weather was saying last night Newcastle have had their wettest May in 23 years, and there's still another 3 weeks to go. As for the last couple of weeks it reminded me of some mainly shitty Spring type weather. Cool, onshore, shite. Maybe it's been longer. I'm pretty sure my actual 'surfing' life is 99.9% vicarious. Sunday looking good.