Weekend Surf Forecast 19 - 21 May, 2017

18 May 2017 0

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

COASTALWATCH | WEEKEND SURF FORECAST

Forecast issued Thursday, 18 May 2017

With the approach of winter, we’re now well and truly in the midst of a highly active period in wave generation – and that pretty much applies to every stretch of surfable Australian coastline. Over the coming weekend there’s swell inbound from just about every angle, but only select regions will be translating this activity into quality surf. You can now see these periods much further ahead with our NEW 16 Day Swell Forecast powered by Boost (see more here).

Across the NSW coast we have two, very different new swells set to push surf-heights back up to a fun size this weekend. The first is a localised NE windswell that will offer up consistent, albeit fairly low-quality 2 to 3ft options across open beaches. The second is a less-frequent, but better organised pulse of S groundswell that’s set to show peak size on Saturday before settling to lower levels on Sunday.

Further north, southern Queensland and far northern NSW coasts also benefit from the combined rising trend in ENE and S swells; but onshore winds will keep quality to a minimum until winds swing offshore on Sunday. Down south, Victorian and South Australian coasts see a string of good days across the exposed beaches as overlapping pulses of SW groundswell coincide with mostly light northerly quarter winds.

The only anomaly in the forecast is the West Coast, where strong onshore winds and large storm-swell are set to render conditions mostly untenable across exposed breaks all weekend.

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Late autumn sees waves in abundance around the country. Photo: CW user Dan Bielich.

Late autumn sees waves in abundance around the country. Photo: CW user Dan Bielich.

Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
Regardless of whether or not you prefer short-range NE windswells or longer period S groundswells and your local, we have the best of both worlds on offer this weekend. The simultaneous onset of a rising NE windswell and a long-range S groundswell will open up plenty of good surfing options state-wide.

The leading edge of the latter, S wave-train begins to show across the region during Friday afternoon, leading in a solid peak in the 3 to 4ft range across southern exposures on Saturday morning. This long interval pulse is reinforced by a smaller, but still powerful SSE pulse on Sunday; probably fluctuating around the 2 to 3ft mark. At the same time we have a rise in localised NE windswell underway. Although more consistent, the NE windswell is a comparatively weak and disorganised wave-train; being fuelled by a moderate, 15 to 25kt NE fetch setting up within close proximity of the southern half of the NSW coast on Friday and Saturday.

Further, accompanying NE winds will the best surface quality limited to true southern exposures, on Saturday, before winds swing light offshore on Sunday morning.

SEE ALSO: How To Forecast Your Next Surf Trip

Friday
Leftover SE swell superseded by a combined rise in NE windswell and S groundswell. Sets around 2ft+ exposed breaks, building towards to 2 – 3ft south facing and exposed open breaks during the afternoon. WIND: Early NE 10 to 15 knots, freshening to 15 to 20 knots during the day.

Saturday
Mix of NE windswell and underlying S groundswell. Ranging from 2 – 4ft south facing breaks, grading to a junky 2 – 3ft open beaches, picking up during the afternoon. WIND: NNE 10 to 15 knots, easing and tending N later.

Sunday
Mix of NE windswell and SSE groundswell. Ranging from 2 – 3ft exposed open breaks and southern exposures. WIND: Early light W, tending light and variable, then light SSW to SSE during the afternoon.

The combined onset of a new NE windswell and S groundswell opens up plenty of good options across the NSW coast this weekend. Photo: CW user Megan Miller.

The combined onset of a new NE windswell and S groundswell opens up plenty of good options across the NSW coast this weekend. Photo: CW user Megan Miller.

Queensland and Far Northern NSW
Small, weak windswell and onshore winds aren’t exactly a recipe for perfection, but that’s what’s on the menu – at least on Friday and Saturday. A firming high pressure ridge supports moderate easterly winds across the coast on both days, with an associated rise in windswell offering little in the way of quality surf.

On the upside, the swell will gradually build from two directions over the weekend – and this is set to culminate in pretty good conditions  by Sunday as the onshore flow gives way to light offshores.

SEE ALSO: Desert Point Is Just How You Like It Right Now

Friday
Poor quality E windswell supersedes residual SSE swell. Junky 1 - 2ft exposed breaks early, picking up to 2ft+ into the afternoon. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: E 10 to 20 knots, tending ENE during the day.

Saturday
E tradewind swell. Junky, low quality 1 – 3ft exposed QLD breaks, picking up into the afternoon. Mixing with S groundswell at a stronger 2 – 4ft across northern NSW southern exposures. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Model divergence. Generally ESE to ENE 10 to 15 knots,  tending lighter N later.

Sunday
Short period ENE windswell. Consistent sets to 2 – 3ft exposed breaks, mixing with faded S groundswell at similar levels across northern NSW. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Early SW/SSW 5 to 10 knots, tending light SSE to E 5 to 10 knots during the afternoon.

It won't be until winds swing offshore on Sunday morning that you'll find anything like this on offer. Photo: CW user Cookielove.

It won't be until winds swing offshore on Sunday morning that you'll find anything like this on offer. Photo: CW user Cookielove.

Victoria
It’s all about Victoria’s exposed beaches this weekend. The arrival of a powerful pulse of SSW groundswell on Friday sets up a fully day of solid, semi-clean conditions under light to moderate ENE winds.

As this pulse eases throughout Saturday winds swing lighter NE to N, making for a full day of idyllic conditions across all of Victoria’s southern exposures. This sets the trend for Sunday as a small, long-period SW pulse offers up another full day of small, clean beach-break conditions state-wide.

Friday
New SSW groundswell fills in. Solid sets to 3 – 4ft+ exposed beaches. Ranging from 2 – 3ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: ENE 5 to 15 knots early, tending lighter NE during the afternoon.

Saturday
Easing SSW swell. Around 2 – 3ft+ exposed beaches early, easing during the afternoon. Grading to 1 – 2ft across the Surf Coast, fading later. WIND: NE 10 to 15 knots, tending lighter N to NNW during the arvo.

Sunday
Small SW groundswell. Solid sets to 2 – 3ft exposed beaches, grading to 1 - 2ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: NNW 5 to 15 knots.

Victoria's exposed beaches will be holding under a light to moderate northerly wind regime all weekend. Photo: Penny Kempe.

Victoria's exposed beaches will be holding under a light to moderate northerly wind regime all weekend. Photo: Penny Kempe.

Western Australia
You might be better off finding something else to occupy yourself with apart from surfing this weekend. The prospect of several day of strong onshore, westerly quarter winds reduce wave quality to the very bottom end of the surfable scale. This varies from a complete write off under strong onshore WNW winds during Friday morning and for most of Saturday, to semi-ok inside the bays as winds swing SW during Friday afternoon and again on Sunday arvo.

Friday
Combination in rising seas and W swells with rising onshores. South West coast: mixed 3-5ft, rising stormy 6ft+ late. Perth/Mandurah: 1-1.5ft, windblown 2ft sets later. WIND: W 10-15kts in metro areas, tending 20-30kts in southwest.

Saturday
Mix of unsettled WSW swells under easing W winds early. South West: lumpy 6-8ft+ with crossed up sets on open areas. Perth/Mandurah: 2-4ft. WIND: WSW 5-10kts early, tending variable, then rising W 10-15kts late.

Sunday
Mixed seas and large WSW swell under strong onshore winds. South West: lumpy and whitecapped 8-10ft. Perth/Mandurah: junky 3-4ft. WIND: WSW 20-30kts early, tending SW in afternoon 15-20kts.

You'll only find conditions like this in the mind's eye across the Southwest this weekend. Photo: Dan Wyer.

You'll only find conditions like this in the mind's eye across the Southwest this weekend. Photo: Dan Wyer.

South Australia
Like Victoria, South Oz sees good conditions on tap across southern exposures over the next few days. Friday sees the cleanest conditions and strongest surf as a new pulse of SSW groundswell hits full stride, generating solid 3 to 4ft sets across the more exposed South Coast beaches. On Saturday a WNW wind-shift will see not-as-ideal cross-offshore conditions, with a drop in SSW swell making for still fun 2 to 3ft conditions. Sunday then offers up another full day of clean surf as a straighter northerly wind-regime greets a continued run of smaller-scale SW groundswell in the 2 to 3ft range.

Friday
New SSW groundswell builds in. Sets ranging from 3 - 4ft+ exposed South Coast beaches, undersized early. Around 1ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early light and variable tending light W during the afternoon.

Saturday
Easing SSW groundswell. Sets to 2 - 3ft+ exposed South Coast beaches. Grading to 0.5ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early WNW tending NW 5 to 15 knots.

Sunday
Reinforcing SW groundswell. Sets ranging from 2 - 3ft exposed South Coast breaks. Grading to 0.5 to 1ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: N 10 to 15 knots tending NNW.


Straight northerly winds forecast for Sunday could see some excellent options across exposed South Oz breaks. Photo: CW user SSC.

Straight northerly winds forecast for Sunday could see some excellent options across exposed South Oz breaks. Photo: CW user SSC.


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