Weekend Surf Forecast 18 - 20 August, 2017
COASTALWATCH | WEEKEND SURF FORECAST
Forecast issued Thursday, 17 August 2017
There’s a bit of role reversal going on around the country this weekend. For most of the winter it’s been the West Coast that’s seen consecutive weekends featuring large/ heavy SW storm-swell and howling onshore winds, leaving very little in the way of good rideable surf.
This weekend, however, it’s the East Coast that receives a proper winter blast as a late resurgence in the winter storm-track delivers a heavy round of S storm-swell to the entire region. This looks big enough to render all exposed breaks awash in heavy, onshore surf. This likely translates into pretty good conditions inside the sheltered bays and southern Queensland points out of the direct path of the southerly swell and wind. The same goes for the NSW coast, where only the most sheltered southern corners and north facing stretches will be offering up rideable waves. Further south, Victoria sees a slow easing trend in energetic WSW swell; initially maintaining the focus on the Surf Coast on Friday and Saturday, before options start to open up across the exposed beaches on Sunday.
Across the West Coast, the swell will settle to a pretty good size across the Southwest by Saturday morning. While there may be a short window of clean conditions early on Saturday, it looks like persistent onshore winds will take the shine off conditions for most of the weekend.
Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
A monster southerly storm-swell is about to slam the entire NSW coast this weekend. We usually see one or two of these storm-swells during the winter months – so its fair to say this one has been a long time coming. Going Thursday morning’s model runs, this episode will easily exceed the 6 to 8ft plus range across all exposed open and south facing beaches under near-gale force southerly winds – and it’s looking like hitting the 8 to 12ft range across south facing breaks as the swell peaks late on Saturday, with scope for bigger sets on offshore reefs.
As a result, it will definitely be a case of look but don’t touch across the vast majority of exposed breaks all weekend. That effectively limits rideable options to the most sheltered southern corners and north-facing stretches, so it’s well worth giving some thought to where might be holding the swell. Stay tuned for more specifics on how this event will unfold on Friday.
Tiny to flat early, S swell picking up to 1 – 2ft south facing breaks during the afternoon, possibly bigger later. WIND: W 20 to 35 knots, tending WSW later/
S storm-swell builds during the day. Sets to 6 - 8ft+ south exposed breaks early, building to 8 – 10ft+ later. Potential for 10 to 15ft sets on offshore reefs. Ranging anywhere from 4 – 8ft+ across open beaches with size depending on exposure. WIND: WSW 20 to 30 knots, tending SSW and freshening to 25 to 35 knots.
Easing SSE swell. Sets ranging from 6 – 8ft+ south facing beaches early, steadily easing during the day. Ranging anywhere from 4 – 8ft elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: SW 15 to 20 knots, tending lighter S to SE during the afternoon.
Queensland and Far Northern NSW
It’s been a long while since a southerly swell of these dimensions has shown up on the charts. In most cases, even the largest of winter south swells don’t hold much more surf potential than 2 to 4ft across southern Queensland breaks, but in the absence of a major downgrading in swell-potential over the next day or two, it’s fair to say this one is in a different league.
While the initial stages of its arrival on Saturday don’t look too out of the ordinary, Sunday should see exceptionally large S storm-swell hammering exposed northern NSW coasts at anywhere from 8 to 12ft, while wrapping in at anywhere from 3 to 6ft plus across southern Queensland coasts all day. The peak of the swell coincides with strong SSW winds, invariably lending the focus to the points and bays. However, it probably won’t exactly be user-friendly, with energetic S swell generating phenomenal south to north sweep across all such venues, so be prepared for some serious paddling – or better yet, with a jet-ski ready to go.
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Minimal refracted S swell. Around 1ft northern NSW south facing breaks, possibly picking up marginally during the late afternoon. Otherwise flat. WIND: W 10 to 20 knots, tending WSW and freshening during the afternoon.
Directional S swell builds in. Sets to 4 – 6ft exposed northern NSW breaks early, building to 5 – 8ft during the afternoon. Wrapping in at 2 – 3ft exposed QLD coasts early, rising towards 3 – 4ft later. Grading small to tiny inside the points and bays. WIND: WSW 15 to 25 knots, tending SW to SSW during the afternoon.
Heavy S storm-swell peaks throughout the morning. Potential for 8 – 12ft sets exposed northern NSW breaks, wrapping in at 4 - 6ft+ exposed Queensland breaks, grading to 2 – 6ft inside the points and bays with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early SW to SSW 20 to 30 knots, tending S and easing during the afternoon.
The predominant westerly swell regime doesn’t necessarily bode well for conditions across the Surf Coast. The good news is there’s also an undercurrent of mid-period SSW swell in the water over the next few days – and this should keep set waves rolling in with good consistency while it lasts. This energy should maintain peak size on Friday before starting to back off into the 2 to 3ft range on Saturday, albeit under far from ideal SSW winds. A further drop in size by Sunday should start to lend the focus the exposed beaches. Early westerly winds are forecast to give way to a light N to NE wind-shift, potentially opening up some great options as SW swell continues to back-off throughout the day.
Continued large WSW storm swell mix. Solid 5 – 6ft+ exposed beaches early, rebuilding later. Sets grading to 3 - 4ft+ across the Surf Coast. WIND: W 20 to 30 knots, WSW during the morning and then SW during the afternoon.
Gradually easing WSW swells tending SW. Fading 4 - 5ft+ along exposed beaches. S swell up to 3 – 4ft across Surf Coast beaches. WIND: SSW 10 to 20 knots, gradually easing during the afternoon.
Easing SW groundswell. Sets to 3 – 4ft+ exposed beaches, easing. Grading to 2 - 3ft across the Surf Coast, rapidly easing. WIND: WNW to NW 5 to 15 knots, tending N to NE during the afternoon.
Thursday’s heavy SW storm-swell settles down to relatively accessible levels over the next few days, but it appears local conditions may still be left wanting for much of the weekend. Saturday holds your best chances for some early offshore SE/SSE winds, greeting a mid-sized SW groundswell picking up again as the day progresses. However, today’s model runs show some conflicting guidance on local winds, so stay tuned to Dan’s update on Friday for clearer guidance on conditions. However Saturday morning pans out it’s probably worth making the most of it. Southerly quarter winds are set to re-strengthen during the day before shifting straighter westerly by Sunday, so opportunities for a clean wave are likely to be scarce.
Overlap in mid sized SW groundswell under continued poor winds. South West: 4-6ft+, easing later. Perth/Mandurah: 1-3ft, easing. WIND: NNW 10-20kts, tending variable. Morning NE Perth/Mandurah early.
Potential rise in short range SSW swell. South West coast: 3-5ft, rising 4-6ft+. Perth/Mandurah: 1-2ft, rising 3ft. WIND: 10-20kts SE freshening 25-30kts SSE. Light variable Perth/Mandurah.
SSW swell backs off under easing S’ly winds. South West: 4-5ft, easing. Perth/Mandurah: 1-3ft, easing. WIND: S’ly 10-15kts easing 10kts SW.
This week’s wintery round of WSW swell will eventually subside and give way to improving surface quality this weekend – but it won’t happen in a hurry. A couple of vigorous cold front lining up over the Bight will reinvigorate near-gale force W to SW winds across the coast on Friday, before eventually easing and turning south early on Saturday. While this is likely to see some serious morning sickness across the South Coast, conditions should improve as winds further ease in response to a large high pressure system moves overhead during the day, probably making for light and variable conditions into the afternoon. This leads in a far more appealing day of clean, smaller scale SSW swell on Sunday, with winds progressively freshening ahead of a cut-off low over the Bight approaching from the west during the afternoon.
Large and stormy SW groundswell. Ranging anywhere from 3 – 6ft exposed South Coast beaches depending on exposure, easing during the afternoon. WSW swell 2 - 3ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: WSW to SW 20 to 35 knots, easing during the afternoon.
Easing SW groundswell. Sets 3 – 4ft exposed South Coast breaks. WSW swell ranging from 1 – 2ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: SSW 10 to 15 knots, tending SSE 5 to 10 knots, then E later.
Leftover SSW swell slowly fades. Ranging from 1 – 3ft exposed South Coast breaks. WSW swell up to 1 – 2ft across the Mid Coast. WIND: NNE 10 to 15 knots.
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