Weekend Surf Forecast 20 - 22 January, 2017

19 Jan 2017 0

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

COASTALWATCH | WEEKEND SURF FORECAST

Forecast issued Thursday, 19 January 2017

If you’re trying to make up for the excesses of the New Year festivities with a rigorous surfing regime – or if you just surf a lot and want to keep it up, then you’ve come to the right place. There are waves, big and small, to be found across every major Australian surfing region this weekend.

Across the NSW coast, a rare spike in S swell peaks under strong southerly winds on Saturday. This episode settles overnight to produce a good day of waves state-wide on Sunday. Southern Queensland will only pull in a fraction of this energy, but in the continued absence of any meaningful E swell, it’s a case of something is better than nothing.

Further south, both Victoria and South Australia experience a subdued phase in wave activity; characterised by small-scale surf – mostly ranging either side of 2ft across exposed breaks all weekend.

As is often the case, the West is the best this weekend; benefiting from a combination of solid SW swell ranging from 3 to 6ft and early light offshore winds.

SEE ALSO: The Day I Paddled Into This Beast

The ocean, like a living work of art. Photo: CW user Harry Young.

The ocean, like a living work of art. Photo: CW user Harry Young.

Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
If you get a swell around this time of year, you can’t really complain. A large spike in S swell kicking in on Saturday morning arrives hand-in-hand with strong southerly winds – and this should see most of us huddled inside one sheltered southern corner or another.

At this point there is some scope for early lighter inshore SW winds, so the dawn patrol may reap some rewards before the southerly kicks. Otherwise, Sunday will undoubtedly offer up some good conditions across a wider variety of exposed breaks as a fading SE airflow gives way to lighter E to NE winds during the afternoon.

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Friday
Cleaning up for the late: Inconsistent 2 – 3ft south facing breaks early, fading during the day. Superseded by rising NE windswell to a junky 2 – 3ft open breaks during the afternoon. WIND: Early NNE 15 to 25 knots, easing and tending N, then NNW during the afternoon, preceding a strong S change in the evening.

Saturday
Big, windblown southerly spike: Steep rising S swell. Undersized early at a windblown 3 – 4ft+, rising to 4 - 5ft+ south facing breaks during the morning. Grading smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Possibly lighter SW inshore at dawn, shifting S 20 to 30 knots during the morning, then easing and tending SSE during the afternoon.

Sunday
Improving conditions throughout the day. Easing SSE swell. Sets to 3 – 4ft south facing breaks early, dropping to 2 – 3ft into the afternoon. Grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light SE 5 to 10 knots, tending light and variable, then E to NE 5 to 15 knots later.

An unruly spike in S swell on Saturday should settle into something more appealing by Sunday morning. Photo: CW user Ayedo.

An unruly spike in S swell on Saturday should settle into something more appealing by Sunday morning. Photo: CW user Ayedo.

Queensland and Far Northern NSW
Most of the bulk of wave action will be found south of the border this weekend. An absence of any notable tradewind swell leaves us almost entirely reliant on a couple of strong, back-to-back S swells inbound across the region. The first of these shows peak size of 3 to 4ft across northern NSW coasts on Friday – and this should be robust enough to wrap in at a fun, 1 to 2ft plus at breaks like Duranbah.

Friday also sees a dominant northerly wind regime that will add little in the way of quality to conditions across southern Queensland. It won’t be until Saturday morning that early light offshore winds will offer up good conditions across all coasts – and it’s worth making the most of this window before a strong SSE change slams it shut during the day.

The second S pulse arrives on Sunday. At this point it’s also slated to arrive at 3 to 4ft levels across southern exposures, but strong SE winds will add little value to these exposed venues. Given there’s a stronger SSE bias in swell direction both on Saturday and Sunday, it may well be worth seeking out a point or bay offering up a smaller, cleaner wave.

SEE ALSO: Mick Fanning Scores Amazing Irish Swell

Friday
Find some northern corner shelter and you’ll be ok. SSE swell peaks. Ranging from 3 - 4ft northern NSW south facing breaks, grading to 1 – 2ft+ exposed QLD breaks and smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Early light and variable across southern QLD tending NE 5 to 15 knots across northern NSW. Tending N and freshening later.

Saturday
Be an early bird. Leftover SSE swell. Slow 1 – 3ft northern NSW south facing breaks, ESE swell to 1 – 2ft exposed QLD breaks, grading to tiny elsewhere. WIND: Early WNW preceding a strong SSE change 15 to 25 knots during the day.

Sunday
New SSE swell fills in. Possibly undersized early at 2 to 3ft+ across northern NSW south facing breaks, peaking around 3 to 4ft during the day. Grading to 1 – 2ft+ exposed QLD breaks and smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: SSE to SE 15 to 20 knots.

In the absence of any E swell, southern Queensland surfers will be reliant on SSE swell this weekend. Photo: CW user Jezza.

In the absence of any E swell, southern Queensland surfers will be reliant on SSE swell this weekend. Photo: CW user Jezza.

Victoria
It’s mostly small-scale stuff with plenty of onshore winds this weekend – but there are a couple of key exceptions worthy of setting aside some time for. Early Friday morning offers up small window of clean conditions and still fun-sized surf ranging either side of 3ft across the exposed beaches. The arrival of a gusty SW change during the morning will pretty much spell the end of surfing for the day -  and the onshore flow will persist on Saturday to produce even smaller onshore waves state-wide.

It won’t be until Sunday that a lighter easterly quarter airflow offers up some small, clean options across the exposed beaches. The lighter wind regime coincides with a new, long-range WSW groundswell reinforcing surf heights to 2 to 3ft across the exposed beaches; probably making for the best conditions you’re likely to see all weekend.

SEE ALSO: Dave Vlug, Back From Black

Friday
Go early before the SW change kills it. Easing SW swell. Consistent 2 – 4ft exposed coasts early, dropping during the day. Grading to 1 - 3ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light and variable ahead of a strong SW change to 20 to 30 knots during the morning.

Saturday
Nothing to write home about. Smaller scale SW swell and underlying WSW groundswell. Ranging from 2 – 3ft exposed coasts, inconsistent in the upper range. Slow sets to 1 – 2ft max across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early inshore W across the Surf Coast. Otherwise WSW tending SW to S 10 to 20 knots.

Sunday
The pick of the bunch. Mix of small-scale SW swell and WSW groundswell. Ranging from 2 - 3ft across exposed beaches. Up to 1 - 2ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light ENE to ESE tending to seabreezes during the afternoon.

Sunday should offer up the best conditions of the weekend across Victoria's exposed stretches. Photo: CW user Aidan Gunn.

Sunday should offer up the best conditions of the weekend across Victoria's exposed stretches. Photo: CW user Aidan Gunn.

Western Australia
If you had these sort of conditions across the East Coast, I’d say it’s going to be pumping this weekend. But as far as the West Coast goes, it’s looking pretty typical; solid swell, early light offshore winds; good enough to get barrelled in the morning and then put your feet up in the arvo. If I could go anywhere around the country for a surf this weekend, it would be the Southwest.

SEE ALSO: Nick Carroll On, That's It For Plan A

Friday
Bit of morning sickness. Long period SW swell fills in and windswell settles. Southwest coast: 4-6ft sets, residual lumpiness early, settling midmorning. Perth/Mandurah: 1.5-2ft. WIND: Light SE 5-10kts early, tending to seabreeze SW 10-15kts in afternoon.

Saturday
Better earlier than later. SW groundswell decreasing. Southwest coast: 3-5ft, easing. Perth/Mandurah: 1ft+. WIND: Light SE 5-10kts early, tending seabreeze SW 10-15kts in afternoon.

Sunday
Becoming woolly as the day progresses. SW swell mix under onshore winds. Southwest coast: 3-5ft, larger sets building late. Perth/Mandurah: textured 1-2ft. WIND: S 10-15kts, tending 15-20kts in metro areas. Shifting SW in afternoon.

There will be good waves across the Southwest, both on Friday and Saturday mornings. Photo: CW user Lewisphoto.

There will be good waves across the Southwest, both on Friday and Saturday mornings. Photo: CW user Lewisphoto.

South Australia
It’s looking pretty typical of summer across the region this weekend – and that means pretty mediocre; mostly ranging from 1 to 2ft under onshore winds across the South Coast on Friday and Saturday, while amounting to a foot or less across the Mid. Only Sunday offers up hope of something better. This takes the form of a small pulse of SW groundswell that should push set waves back up into the 2 to 3ft range across South Coast breaks, with early light NE winds making it about as good as its going to get for the foreseeable future.

SEE ALSO: South Australians Show How Not To Surf A Beater Board

Friday
Low expectations and you’ll be fine. Faded, onshore SW swell. 1 - 2ft+ South Coast beaches, easing during the afternoon. WSW swell 0.5ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: SSW 15 to 20 knots, tending S later.

Saturday
Smaller scale SSW groundswell. Up to 1 – 2ft South Coast breaks, bumping up marginally during the afternoon. Grading 1ft or less across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early E 5 to 15 knots tending SE during the afternoon.

Sunday
New SW groundswell. Sets to 1 - 3ft exposed South Coast beaches, probably undersized early. Grading to 1ft or less across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early light ENE tending to seabreezes during the afternoon.

Sunday offers up the best of conditions across the South Coast this weekend. Photo: CW user Mattvan.

Sunday offers up the best of conditions across the South Coast this weekend. Photo: CW user Mattvan.

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