Weekend Surf Forecast 19 - 21 February, 2016

18 Feb 2016 0

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

FORECAST | Weekend Surf Forecast

Forecast issued Thursday, 18 February 2016

While the big El Nino event of 2015/16 is finally beginning to wane, we’re continuing to see its effects reverberating across the tropical Pacific Ocean in the form of tropical cyclone activity. The long enduring Tropical Cyclone Winston continues to deliver a constant run of small to mid-sized E swell across the region this weekend and this also mixes in with residual S swell, leftover from a big pulse peaking across the southern half of the NSW coast on Thursday.

The swell-focus, however, remains fixed on our tropical swell window into the back half of February. As discussed in the recent Forecaster Blog, TC Winston may well deliver an even larger easterly swell event to the region next week. This is shaping up as another long-enduring event - potentially lasting right through to late February – and that’s just icing on the cake given the constant run of swell across the East Coast so far this summer.

SEE ALSO: Forecaster Blog: Is The El Nino Summer About To Go From Good To Epic Across The East Coast? 

One man's version of hiding under a rock. Photo: CW Plus member Mark Morgan.

One man's version of hiding under a rock. Photo: CW Plus member Mark Morgan.

Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
The largest S groundswell to impact the region so far this year steadily abates over the next few days. If you’re a fan of the chunky, 6ft plus size evident across the more exposed breaks on Thursday, then you’d best make haste. Both wave period and wave height are set to scale down a couple of notches by Friday morning to produce more accessible surf – still running at a chunky 4 to 5ft across south facing breaks, while mixing in with the long-standing, underlying ENE swell at lower levels elsewhere.

It’s worth hitting it early on Friday to capitalise on a short-lived NW bias in wind direction, but south facing breaks will be pretty good all day as winds clock around to the N and then NE into the afternoon. It’s worth making time to surf on Friday if you can.

Conditions are set to take a turn for the worse just in time for the weekend. By Saturday morning expect a smaller mix of ENE and SSE swells still ranging from 2 to 3ft plus, but this accessible swell-mix will be butchered by the pre-dawn arrival of a robust southerly change that’s been upgraded in strength by recent model runs.

Sunday morning looks similarly unappealing under early moderate SE winds, expect a gradual improvement in conditions as the onshore flow eases throughout the day – probably tending semi-glassy into the late afternoon/ evening. At the same time, we continue to see underlying ENE swell combining with a new, small pulse of S groundswell – making for fun-sized 2 to 3ft surf just about everywhere you look.

Friday
Get in early before the nor’easter. Primary S groundswell. Sets around 3 - 5ft south facing beaches early, easing to 2 – 4ft into the afternoon. Combining with underlying ENE groundswell at 2 – 4ft open beaches with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early light NNW tending N to NE 10 to 20 knots during the afternoon.

Saturday
Cruelled by a strong S change. Inconsistent sets to 2 – 3ft+ exposed open breaks. Mixing with leftover SSE swell at 2 – 3ft south facing beaches. WIND: Pre-dawn S change 15 to 20 knots, tending SSE and easing during the afternoon.

Sunday
Slowly improving all day. Fading ENE swell. Inconsistent 2 – 3ft sets most exposed open beaches. Mixing with small S groundswell at similar levels across south facing breaks. WIND: SE 10 to 20 knots early, easing and tending lighter ESE later.

SEE ALSO: Join Us In The VIP Lounge Of The Australian Open Of Surfing - An Introduction To Surf Forecasting

Thursday's big pulse of S groundswell will subside to more manageable levels by Saturday morning. Photo: CW Plus member Betelbailey.

Thursday's big pulse of S groundswell will subside to more manageable levels by Saturday morning. Photo: CW Plus member Betelbailey.

Queensland and Far Northern NSW
A moderate north to northeast airflow is the bane of every surfer’s existence across southern Queensland coasts on Friday, so if you’re keen to capitalise on yet another day of mid-sized E swell, you might want to target a sheltered northern corner – or just head south of the border.

Saturday also holds minimal appeal as a faded easterly swell again coincides with early northerly quarter winds. The upside is they will be much lighter – and they’re set to swing to the east as the day progresses – potentially opening up better options inside the points and bays for the late.

The good news is Sunday holds better potential for some clean, rejuvenated waves inside the points and bays. The arrival of a weak SE wind-shift early on Sunday is projected to coincide with a rejuvenated easterly swell – again pulsing in the 3 to 4ft range across the region all day.

Friday
Northern corners of bust. Mid period E swell around 2 - 4ft southern QLD exposed breaks, inconsistent in the upper range. Mixing with S groundswell at 4 – 5ft+ northern NSW south facing breaks. Grading to 1 – 3ft inside the points and bays. WIND: NNW 5 to 15 knots tending NNE 10 to 15 knots during the afternoon.

Saturday
Pretty ordinary. Mix of faded E swell mixing and leftover SSE swell 2 – 3ft exposed breaks. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: NNE 5 to 15 knots, tending ENE to ESE during the afternoon.

Sunday
A damned sight better. Rejuvenated E swell. 3 – 4ft exposed breaks, reinforced by slow rising ESE windswell during the day. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Early light SSW inshore tending SE 5 to 15 knots, then freshening later.

SEE ALSO: How 'Bout Greenmount Yesterday?

It might not be packing as much size on Saturdaay, but the long-run of E swell is set to boost up again into Sunday - with a whole lot more to follow over the course of next week. Photo:CW Plus member Johnnyclash.

It might not be packing as much size on Saturdaay, but the long-run of E swell is set to boost up again into Sunday - with a whole lot more to follow over the course of next week. Photo:CW Plus member Johnnyclash.

Victoria
There’s no shortage of swell across the region this weekend – and that goes for both the semi-sheltered, Surf Coast breaks and for the exposed beaches.

Once again, the sticking point is onshore winds. Friday morning offers up a short window of opportunity to get amongst some clean conditions across the Surf Coast before winds swing to the south – and that pretty much sets the trend for the weekend. Southerly quarter winds persist under the influence of a weak ridge extending off a new high forming south of the Bight.

As the high migrates eastward we’ll see the usual anti-clockwise trend in wind-direction; going from straighter S on Saturday to SE on Sunday – and it probably won’t be until Monday that winds turn offshore/ light and variable under its influence.

Friday
Good early, more swell later. New SW swell. Sets to 3 – 4ft+ early across exposed coasts, building to 4 – 6ft during the afternoon. Around 1 – 3ft across the Surf Coast, building towards 2 – 3ft+ later. WIND: Light WNW tending SSW later.

Saturday
Light onshore fun. SW swell. Sets ranging from 5 – 6ft+ exposed beaches. Grading to 3 – 4ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: SSW 5 to 10 knots, tending SSE during the day.

Sunday
More light onshore fun. Easing SW swell. Around 4 - 5ft+ exposed beaches. Grading to 2 - 3ft+ across the Surf Coast, easing later. WIND: Light ESE 5 to 15 knots, tending SE to SSE later.

SEE ALSO: Chico Rolls Are Off The Menu On The Surf Coast

Just because it's onshore doesn't mean it ain't fun. Photo: CW Plus member Ianrobbo.

Just because it's onshore doesn't mean it ain't fun. Photo: CW Plus member Ianrobbo.

Western Australia
It’s looking like a fairly non-descript weekend of waves across the region over the coming days. A steady run of mostly small-scale SW swell coincides with an ESE to S wind-regime that’s set remain in force throughout Friday and the weekend. This, then wait until Sunday morning.Solid, mid-range SW swell combines with offshore ESE winds to produce the highlight of the weekend. It will be worth making the most of conditions throughout the morning before winds tend to the south into the afternoon.

Friday
Better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick. Slight ease in SW swell under fresh SE winds. Southwest coast: 3-4ft. Perth/Mandurah: 1ft+ at exposed beaches. SE wind 15-20kts tending 20kts SSE.

Saturday
Good from afar, but far from good. Small SW swell under moderate ESE winds. Southwest coast: 2-3ft. Perth/Mandurah: 1ft. ESE winds 20kts, easing then tending S'ly later.

Sunday
Picking up during the afternoon. Small SW swell early, rising later. Southwest coast: 2-3ft, 4ft sets later. Perth/Mandurah: 1ft. ESE wind 10-15kts tending 15-20kts SSW.

SEE ALSO: Russell Bierke Has Problems

Getting in early will maximise your chances of scoring a few of these this weekend. Photo: CW Plus member Leonbushnel.

Getting in early will maximise your chances of scoring a few of these this weekend. Photo: CW Plus member Leonbushnel.

South Australia
It’s shaping up as a pretty run-of-the-mill weekend of surf across South Australia. Although there should be plenty of SW swell on tap – mostly fluctuating around 2 to 3ft plus – moderate onshore winds will take the shine off conditions – at least throughout Friday and Saturday. The good news is Sunday is shaping up as a better day to get amongst it, with lighter north-easterlies greeting a still fun-sized SW swell all day.

Friday
Deteriorating under strengthening onshore winds: SSW swell 2 - 3ft across the exposed South Coast beaches, bumping up during the afternoon. Grading to flat across the Mid Coast. WIND: SSE 5 to 15 knots, freshening later.

Saturday
More onshores: SSW swell. Up to 2 - 4ft along exposed beaches. Grading to 0.5ft along the Mid Coast WIND: Early SE 10 to 20 knots.

Sunday
Offshores, halleluiah: SSW swell around 2 - 3ft+ along exposed South Coast beaches, picking up to 3 – 4ft. Grading to 0.5 to 1ft along the Mid Coast. WIND: ENE 5 to 15 knots.

SEE ALSO: The Best Thing About Surfing In France

It won't be until Sunday that lighter offshore winds come to the party. Photo: CW Plus member CathyFletcheroo.

It won't be until Sunday that lighter offshore winds come to the party. Photo: CW Plus member CathyFletcheroo.

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