The Weekend Surf Forecast 3 - 5 March, 2017

2 Mar 2017 0

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

COASTALWATCH | WEEKEND SURF FORECAST

Forecast issued Thursday, 16 February 2017

At last, autumn has arrived. That means (at least in theory) plenty of good surf over the coming months – and that’s a generalisation that applies to every stretch of surfable Australian coastline - if not the entire surfable world.

Underpinning this broad sweeping statement is early offshore land-breezes, derived from heat-laden oceans and cooling overnight land-temperatures. At the same time we usually start to see an abundance of swell sources as the Southern Ocean storm track begins to reignite, while the aforementioned latent heat present in tropical and subtropical waters spawns all kinds of storm-activity.

All these elements apply to the NSW coast over the next few days as early light offshore winds greet a continuation of small-scale E swell in the 2ft plus range – at least until a low forming off the South Coast triggers a strong southerly change and steep rise in SSE windswell during Sunday afternoon. Further north, the small-scale E swell also remains in effect across southern Queensland and northern NSW coasts, with a final 2 to 3ft pulse projected to arrive on Saturday before it finally begins to fade on Sunday. Further south, Victoria and South Australia are the only states that buck the favourable land-breeze trend. A trough/ ridge combination sets up a tightening pressure gradient and subsequent moderate to strong onshore winds across both states; predominantly ranging from straight S to ESE in direction. So regardless of a nice pulse of SSW groundswell arriving on Friday and Saturday, conditions are looking sub-par all weekend.

Last but not least, the West Coast also benefits from early SE winds over the next few days, but in the short-term the offshores will only be greeting small-scale SW swell, probably not pushing too far beyond 2 to 3ft. Come Sunday, that all changes withy the arrival of a strong WSW groundswell that should see clean waves ranging either side of 4ft across the exposed Southwest breaks.

Hooray for autumn! Bring on the solid swell and offshore winds. Photo: CW plus user Beau Hardy.

Hooray for autumn! Bring on the solid swell and offshore winds. Photo: CW plus user Beau Hardy.

Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
This week’s long-enduring run of short-period E swell is set to persist as the dominant swell train into Friday and the weekend. In the first instance we can expect a further drop in size overnight; probably fading to a slower 2ft across the most exposed open breaks. The good news is Saturday holds potential for another minor push in ENE swell into the 1 to 3ft range, with early light offshore winds likely to produce another delectable autumn morning. However, the operative word here is ‘likely’. The impending development of a surface trough and embedded low off the South Coast on Friday and Saturday lends some uncertainty to local winds. So while the most likely outcome looks like SW to S winds for Sydney and locations north, the South Coast looks more likely to see onshore ESE to SE winds developing in response to the low.

Sunday should then see early lighter offshore winds shifting strong SSW during the day; invariably lending the focus to sheltered southern corners. This should mark the start of a strong building trend in SSE swell that looks like coming to a head early next week. Stay tuned for Friday’s update for more on this.

Friday
E windswell. Around 2ft exposed beaches, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light SSW tending S 10 to 15 knots during the day, then back to the SSW later.

Saturday
ENE windswell. Ranging from 1 - 3ft exposed breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Light SW to NW early, tending variable, then S during the afternoon.

Sunday
Mix of E and SSE windswells around 2ft exposed beaches early. SSE windswell rises towards 2– 3ft+ during the afternoon. WIND: Early WSW to SW 10 to 20 knots turning SSW 20 to 35 knots during the afternoon.

Small swell aside, there will be clean conditions aplenty across the NSW coast this weekend. Photo: CW user Wildmanfilms.

Small swell aside, there will be clean conditions aplenty across the NSW coast this weekend. Photo: CW user Wildmanfilms.

Queensland and Far Northern NSW
It may be a long way from last season’s exceptional run of tropical cyclone swell, but it’s still a whole lot better than nothing. This week’s long enduring run of 2 to 3ft E swell is set to continue into Friday and the weekend; initially at slightly smaller levels on Friday preceding a minor uptick in energy on Saturday. This is characterised by a slight uptick in both height and wave-period as a new pulse of mid-range E swell arrives out of the eastern Tasman Sea; again producing surf in the 2 to 3ft range across the region all day. This should be followed by a renewed drop in size to about 2ft with occasional larger sets on Sunday – not to mention a further northward shift in local winds, making for deteriorating conditions across open breaks as the day progresses.

Friday
Faded E tradewind swell. Ranging from 1 - 3ft exposed breaks. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Early light WSW to SSW inshore tending SE to ESE 5 to 15 knots.

Saturday
Smaller E tradewind swell. Around 2ft+ exposed breaks. Grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light and variable inshore tending ESE to 5 to 15 knots during the afternoon.

Sunday
E tradewind swell. Around 2ft exposed breaks. Mixing with small S groundswell at 1 – 3ft across northern NSW coasts. WIND: Early light WSW to SSW inshore tending ENE 5 to 15 knots.

It ain't exactly cranking cyclone swell this weekend, but it will just have to do until one gets here. Photo: Penny Kempe.

It ain't exactly cranking cyclone swell this weekend, but it will just have to do until one gets here. Photo: Penny Kempe.

Victoria
Onshore winds are the bane of every Victorian surfer’s existence this weekend. The arrival of what would otherwise be an excellent pulse of SSW groundswell on Friday and Saturday is marred by moderate to strong winds, predominantly ranging from straight S to ESE in direction. This is linked to a low pressure trough developing over NSW interacting with a firm ridge lying across Bass Strait. Together these systems should ensure there isn’t any respite from the onshore winds for many days to come.

Friday
Rising SSW groundswell. Undersized at 2 to 3ft+ exposed beaches early, building towards 3 – 4ft during the day and up to 4 – 5ft+ later. Ranging from 1 – 2ft across the Surf Coast early, picking up to 2 – 3ft+ later. WIND: SSE 10 to 15 knots early, easing and tending SE to ESE and freshening to 15 to 20 knots during the afternoon.

Saturday
Easing SW swell. Around 4 – 5ft exposed coasts early, easing towards 3 – 4ft during the day. Lumpy sets to 2 – 3ft across the Surf Coast, fading later. WIND: ESE 10 to 15 knots tending SE later.

Sunday
Easing SW groundswell. Leftover 2 - 3ft+ sets across exposed beaches early, easing during the day. Grading to a lumpy 1 – 2ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: ESE 10 to 15 knots, tending SSE during the afternoon.

Persistent onshore winds means conditions like this will be confined to one's imagination this weekend. Photo: CW user Nick Robson.

Persistent onshore winds means conditions like this will be confined to one's imagination this weekend. Photo: CW user Nick Robson.

Western Australia
We’re now in the midst of a downward slide in SW swell that’s set to continue throughout Friday before bottoming out on Saturday; probably only amounting to a very slow 2 to 3ft max across the most exposed Southwest breaks while grading to flat across Perth’s metro beaches. The arrival of a new, long-range WSW groundswell breaks the trend on Sunday; quickly pushing set waves up to a solid 3 to 4ft plus, albeit punctuated by long-waits between sets. The new swell is greeted by continued SE winds squeezed between a static heat trough and high pressure ridge, making for early excellent conditions before winds swing south during the day.

Friday
SW groundswell holds small and settled. Southwest coast: 2-3ft. Perth/Mandurah: 0.5ft. WIND: Calm to light SE early, tending S to SSW in afternoon 10-15kts+.

Saturday
Minor overlap in SW swell. Southwest coast: 2-3ft, rising occasional 3-4ft sets. Perth/Mandurah: 0.5ft to occasional 1ft. WIND: SE 10-15kts early, tending S in afternoon.

Sunday
Long period WSW groundswell filling in. Long lulls. Southwest coast: 3-5ft, better deepwater sets at focal spots. Perth/Mandurah: 1ft sets. WIND: SE 10kts early, tending SW 10-15kts in afternoon.

It won't be until Sunday that a new WSW groundswell starts to produce some grunt across the Southwest. Photo: Dan Wyer.

It won't be until Sunday that a new WSW groundswell starts to produce some grunt across the Southwest. Photo: Dan Wyer.

South Australia
Lacklustre. That about sums up surfing conditions across South Australia this weekend. A combination of small-scale SSW groundswell and local SE windswell fall under a persistent south to south-easterly quarter airflow, making for sub-par conditions across the South Coast for many days to come. While the SE bias in local winds will be well suited to the Mid Coast, the surf looks unlikely to top 1ft under the predominant SSW swell direction all weekend.

Friday
Combination of small SW groundswell and local SE windswell. Ranging from 2 - 3ft exposed South Coast beaches. Grading to flat to 1ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: SE 10 to 20 knots, tending S during the afternoon.

Saturday
Mix of small-scale SSW swell and local SE windswell. Around 2 - 3ft exposed South Coast beaches. Grading to flat to 1ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early light SSE, tending S and freshening to 10 to 15 knots during the afternoon.

Sunday
Mix of faded SW swell and slight SE windswell. Ranging from 1 - 2ft+ exposed South Coast breaks. Grading to flat to 1ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: SSE to SSW 10 to 20 knots.

A predominant onshore airflow will make peaks like these a rarity across SA this weekend. Photo: CW user Will Basil.

A predominant onshore airflow will make peaks like these a rarity across SA this weekend. Photo: CW user Will Basil.


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