Xmas Weekend Surf Forecast 23 - 25 December, 2016
COASTALWATCH | WEEKEND SURF FORECAST
Forecast issued Thursday, 8 December 2016
They call it the silly season, but there’s nothing funny about being left high and dry in the surf department over the Christmas holidays. Thankfully, there’s every reason to rejoice this year with just about every stretch of surfable Australian coastline pulling in swell of one kind or another.
Western Australia is by far and away the primary beneficiary; benefiting from a powerful round of SW groundswell that will push up into the 6 to 8ft range just as most people are sitting down to a Christmas Eve feast. Across the East Coast, it’s more of a case of humble Christmas Pie. A long-enduring run of small-scale E tradewind swell will continue to favour southern Queensland and far northern NSW; picking up to stronger 3ft levels just in time for the weekend. Further south, the NSW coast will see a diluted version of this energy; mostly amounting to 2ft, with the addition of some NE windswell holding good potential for some larger 2 to 3ft sets on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Further south, both Victoria and South Australia will see some pretty placid conditions – at least until Boxing Day – at which point the arrival of a large WSW groundswell will produce the most challenging conditions of the holiday period. Merry Christmas everyone!
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Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
If you manage your expectations you just might have some fun in the water this Christmas. Friday marks the start of an extended run of small-scale ENE and NE swells that should be just enough to keep things interesting across the more exposed east facing breaks. The former, ENE swell arises from a distant tropical low that’s been active over the Fiji region for near two weeks; generating a moderate easterly tradewind flow out near the dateline.
The reality is, the vast distance of the swell-source from Sydney and locations south will inhibit surf-potential; for the most part limiting wave size to 1 to 2ft across the majority of open beaches. It’s only those select locations that favour the ENE direction that will offer up slightly larger surf ranging from 2ft to near 3ft at times. It’s the addition of some small-scale NE windswell mixing with the pre-existing ENE wave-train that presents potential for some larger 2 to 3ft waves - particularly on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
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Small-scale fun. Mix of background ENE and S swells. Up to 1 – 2ft+ exposed breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light ENE 5 to 10 knots, tending NE and freshening during the afternoon.
Groundhog Day. ENE swell mixing with slight NE windswell. Sets around 2ft exposed open beaches, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light N tending NNE 10 to 20 knots during the afternoon.
Combination of underlying ENE tradewind swell and short-range NE windswell. Around 2ft and occasionally bigger across exposed open breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light N tending NE and freshening to 10 to 20 knots during the afternoon.
Rising NE windswell underpinned by background ENE swell. Ranging from 1 - 3ft exposed open breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light N tending NE 15 to 25 knots during the afternoon.
Queensland and Far Northern NSW
Relatively speaking, it looks like it’s going to pump across the region this Christmas. Of course, that doesn’t mean it will be 6ft and offshore. In fact, it will be more like 3ft and onshore – but that’s a whole lot better than the interminable flatness of spring, right? And of course, there will be windows of early light offshore winds making for some pretty fun conditions over the Christmas break.
We can still look forward to a welcome boost in energy arriving just in time for the weekend, pushing surf up to a legitimate 2 to 3ft plus across the more exposed breaks both on Saturday and Sunday. From Boxing Day onwards we have a new, shorter-period windswell on track to reinforce surf-heights at similar, albeit junkier 2 to 3ft levels, with a slow decline likely to follow into the final days of 2016.
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Fun-sized E tradewind swell. Sets up to 2 - 3ft exposed QLD breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. Mixing with small-scale SSE windswell to 2 to 3ft across northern NSW south facing breaks. WIND: SE to ESE 10 to 20 knots.
Boost in Mid period E tradewind swell. Solid 2 – 3ft+ exposed QLD breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light and variable inshore tending ESE 10 to 15 knots plus.
Mid period E tradewind swell keeps coming. Ranging from 2 - 3ft+ exposed open breaks, easing during the afternoon. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Early light SSW inshore tending ESE 10 to 15 knots.
Short period ESE tradewind swell and underlying E swell. 2 - 3ft exposed open breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE to ENE 10 to 15 knots.
It’s shaping up as a pretty user-friendly Christmas weekend across Victorian coasts this year. The height of the festive season coincides with a lull in SW swell; falling to 1 to 3ft levels across the state on Christmas Eve ahead of a slight uptick in energy by Christmas morning. This is still only expected to come in at 2 to 3ft, but light onshore winds are set to take the shine off conditions.
It won’t be until Boxing Day that a solid round of WSW groundswell combines with early fresh northerly quarter winds to light up southern exposures. It will be well-worth making the most of this window while it lasts. A strong WSW/SW change is set to move across Bass Strait during the day – and it’s arrival will quickly spell the end of the good conditions across exposed breaks. Similarly, expect some fairly good options across the Surf Coast as winds swing NW ahead of the change, but it looks like you’re timing will have to be fine to avoid the arrival of the south-westerlies.
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Clean across exposed beaches early. Easing SW swell. Around 2 – 4ft exposed coasts early, dropping during the afternoon. Grading to 1 - 2ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light ENE to ESE, tending light and variable, then to SSE seabreezes later.
Smaller-scale SW swell. Ranging from 1 - 3ft exposed coasts, inconsistent in the upper range. Grading to 1ft or so across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light SSE 5 to 10 knots, freshening during the afternoon and tending ESE later.
Mix of small, long and mid-period SW swells. Sets to 2 – 3ft exposed breaks, picking up to an inconsistent 3 – 4ft during the late arvo. Grading to 1 – 2ft max along the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light ENE tending light and variable, then ESE 10 to 15 knots during the afternoon.
Long period WSW groundswell fills in. Long-lined sets ranging from 4 – 6ft exposed beaches, possibly undersized early. Sets to 3 – 4ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early N 15 to 30 knots, dropping to light and variable ahead of a strong WSW change during the early afternoon.
If you thought you might be in for a few relaxing surfs on your mini-mal or a splash around on your surf-mat across the Southwest this Christmas, think again. A large SW groundswell arrives just in time for the weekend; pushing set waves up to demanding, 6 to 8ft levels on Christmas Eve and it will continue to run at this size on Christmas Day. Although winds aren’t ideal through the height of this episode, there will be no shortage of good options. It won’t be until Monday that the swell settles to more accessible 4ft levels, with early offshore winds making for a memorable Boxing Day statewide.
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Mid period SW swell. Potentially settling out lumpiness early before seabreeze. Southwest coast: crossed up 3-5ft. Perth/Mandurah: 1-2ft. WIND: Light SE 5-10kt early, tending SW 10-20kts.
SW groundswell fills in under variable S'ly wind. Southwest coast: 4-6ft rising 6-8ft deepwater sets. Perth/Mandurah: 1-2ft, possible larger sets. WIND: S winds 5-10kts early, tending S to SSW 15-25kts.
Inconsistent SW groundswell with strong cross shore, opposing SSE winds. Southwest coast: 6-8ft sets at open areas. Inconsistent with lulls. Smaller 3-5ft protected breaks and points. Perth/Mandurah: 1-3ft, sets inconsistent. WIND: Strong SE 10-20kts early, tending S'ly in afternoon 10-15kts .
Further ease in SW swell under favourable morning winds. Southwest coast: inco 4ft, easing 3ft by arvo. Perth/Mandurah: 1ft. WIND: Calm early E 5kts, tending SW and gradually rising 10-15kts.
It’s probably not going to be the most exciting surfing-Christmas this year – but it looks like Boxing Day will make up for it in spades. A slow declining SW swell is set to level off around the 1 to 2ft mark this weekend, preceding the onset of a new, mid-sized SW groundswell on Monday. This holds potential for long-lined sets ranging either side of 3ft across the South Coast, with early light winds offering up good conditions before the arrival of the seabreeze.
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Earlier the better. SW swell. 2 - 3ft South Coast beaches, easing during the afternoon. Grading to 1ft or so across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early light NNE tending WSW 10 to 15 knots during the day.
Smaller scale SSW swell. Mostly 1 – 2ft South Coast breaks. Grading to flat across the Mid Coast. WIND: Light SSW to SSE 5 to 10 knots later.
SW swell. Sets to 1 - 2ft exposed South Coast beaches. Flat across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early light and variable, tending to seabreezes during the afternoon.
New SW groundswell kicks in. Sets to 2 - 4ft exposed South Coast beaches. Grading to 1ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early light and variable, tending SSE 10 to 15 knots during the afternoon.
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