Weekend Surf Forecast 16 - 18 March 2018

15 Mar 2018 1 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

COASTALWATCH | WEEKEND SURF FORECAST

Issued Thursday, 15 March 2018

It’s been a busy early autumn in the surf department around the country – particularly across the East Coast, where the reverberations of two tropical cyclones remain in effect across southern Queensland and NSW coasts. Tropical Cyclone Linda’s fleeting lifecycle of over the Coral Sea over the past few days has proved a boon for the Quiksilver Pro – and the tail end of the swell-event will continue to deliver great surf to the entire Eastern Seaboard over the next few days.

At the same time, the entire NSW coast will feel the brunt of a powerful Southern Ocean southerly groundswell; arriving at long-peak periods of 15 seconds across the South Coast during Friday afternoon before showing peak size across Sydney and surrounds on Saturday. This energy will show up further north late on Saturday and should hold peak size on Sunday, but the relatively small height and acute SSW direction will inhibit penetration of the groundswell into southern Queensland coasts.

Further south, Victorian and South Australian coasts benefit from the same swell-source a day earlier; receiving a powerful round of SSW groundswell showing peak size across both states on Friday. This is set to culminate in a pretty good day of surf across Victoria’s exposed open breaks on Saturday as favourable NNW winds greet a declining SSW swell in the 3 to 5ft range. Across the West Coast there’s also no shortage of swell on tap, but winds won’t be ideal; mostly varying from SSE on Friday and Sunday, to strong onshore out the SW on Saturday.

There are great autumn conditions on offer and the right time and place this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Caveman Dan.

There are great autumn conditions on offer and the right time and place this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Caveman Dan.

Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
Back peddling on a surf-forecast is never a comfortable thing to do, but it’s a whole lot better than over-promising and then under-delivering. It appears both the NE swell due on Friday and the overlapping S groundswell following this weekend will come in substantially below what we were anticipating earlier in the week. The rapid dissipation of Tropical Cyclone Linda over the Coral Sea on Wednesday appears to have substantially inhibited the development of a NE fetch wrapping around its upper eastern quadrant. Hence the size of the resulting NE swell has been diluted to about 3ft along the more exposed open beaches. Similarly, the rapid weakening of a Southern Ocean low marching eastward below Tasmania flows through to a downgrading of S swell potential this weekend. Never the less, there’s plenty of surf on tap state-wide, so be sure to make hay while the sun-shines.

Friday
Combined rise in mid-period NE swell generated by TC Linda and new S groundswell. Mixing with minor SSE windswell at about 2ft exposed open beaches early, building to 2 to 3ft during the day. Combining with rising, long period S groundswell, building to a slow 2 to 3ft south facing breaks during the late afternoon/ evening. WIND: Early WSW 5 to 10 knots, tending NE 15 to 20 knots during the afternoon.

Saturday
Long-period S groundswell peaks early. Ranging from 3 to 5ft southern exposures, early, gradually easing during the afternoon. Mixing with smaller NE swell at 2 to 4ft elsewhere depending on exposure. WIND: Early light WNW 5 to 10 knots tending variable, then ENE 5 to 15 knots later.

Sunday
Easing S groundswell. Inconsistent sets ranging from 2 to 3ft across south facing breaks early, fading during the afternoon. Mixing with small NE windswell at lower-levels elsewhere. WIND: Early light W tending NNE 10 to 20 knots during the afternoon.

A new S groundswell peaking on Saturday morning might look something like this at the right location. Photo: Dan Bielich.

A new S groundswell peaking on Saturday morning might look something like this at the right location. Photo: Dan Bielich.

Queensland and Far Northern NSW
Thursday’s pumping cyclone swell marks a high-point in wave activity across the region, preceding a steady decline over the next few days. That pretty much leaves Friday as the pick; so you might want to plan accordingly. The rapid dissipation of TC Linda off the Queensland coast translates into a corresponding, steep decline in both wave-height and period – not to mention a transition in swell direction from ESE to SE by Saturday morning. On the upside, there’s a new round of S groundswell inbound across the region over the weekend; for the most part favouring northern NSW coasts. At the same time light offshore winds are forecast to set in across the coast on Saturday and Sunday mornings, making for great conditions both north and south of the border.

Friday
Easing ESE swell. Ranging from 3 to 5ft exposed breaks early, easing to 2 to 4ft later. Wrapping at 3 to 4ft+ inside the points and bays with size depending on exposure and easing during the day. WIND: Lighter WSW to SSW inshore tending SSE to 15 to 20 knots.

Saturday
Smaller leftover SE tradewind swell around 2 to 3ft+ across exposed QLD breaks, wrapping in at 1 to 3ft inside the points and bays. Directional, long S groundswell shows across northern NSW coasts during the afternoon at 3 to 4ft. WIND: Lighter WSW/SW inshore tending SSE 10 to 20 knots.

Sunday
ESE tradewind swell ranging from 1 to 3ft exposed open breaks. Mixing with larger S groundswell at 3 to 4ft northern NSW exposed breaks and wrapping at lower levels inside the points and bays with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early light and variable WSW to WNW tending E to NE 5 to 15 knots during the afternoon.

Saturday will continue to see great conditions associated with TC Linda before the swell drops back to relatively low levels by Sunday. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Rabbit.

Saturday will continue to see great conditions associated with TC Linda before the swell drops back to relatively low levels by Sunday. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Rabbit.

Victoria
A strong round of SSW groundswell kicks in across the state on Friday, lending the focus to the Surf Coast as it wraps in the vicinity of 4 to 6ft.
The downside is a developing easterly airflow that will add a bit of lump and bump to wave-faces during the day. The good news is they should remain light enough to keep conditions fairly rippable for most of the day.

From Saturday morning the focus is set to shift to the exposed beaches as the tail end of the SSW groundswell levels off at a good size under light N winds. It looks like it’s well worth making the most of both Friday and Saturday. The swell is set to substantially dissipate by Sunday morning – but it won’t stay small for long. A new round of WSW swell is set to build steeply in the wake of a strong SW change arriving during the afternoon – and while this is nothing to write home about, it looks like culminating in a major SW swell event mid next week.

Friday
Powerful, long-period SSW groundswell peaks early. Long 5 to 8ft sets along exposed beaches. Wrapping at 4 to 6ft+ along the premier Surf Coast reefs and grading smaller elsewhere. Easing later. WIND: Early ESE 5 to 10 knots, tending ENE later in the day.

Saturday
Easing SSW groundswell. Sets around 3 to 5ft along exposed beaches early, dropping to 2 to 4ft later. Around 2 to 4ft along the Surf Coast reefs, easing to 2 to 3ft later. WIND: NNW to N 10 to 15 knots early, freshening during the afternoon.

Sunday
Fading SW groundswell reinforced by steep rising WSW swell. Sets around 2 to 3ft along the exposed beaches early, rising to 3 to 4ft+ during the day and potentially 4 to 6ft+ into the late arvo. Grading to 1ft+ along the Surf Coast reefs, bumping up to 2 to 3ft+ later. WIND: Early light NW to NE ahead of a strong WSW change 20 to 30 knots during the afternoon.

A still powerful SSW groundswell under light N winds opens up a wide range of good options across the state on Saturday morning. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Caveman Dan.

A still powerful SSW groundswell under light N winds opens up a wide range of good options across the state on Saturday morning. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Caveman Dan.

Western Australia
Onshore winds are set to take the shine off an otherwise pumping weekend of SW swell. Having said that, there will still be plenty of opportunities to get amongst it. Friday morning offers up the most accessible conditions over the next few days as early light SSE winds greet 3 to 4 feet of SW swell across the Southwest. It’s well worth making the most of these conditions given the prospect of a steep building trend in SW swell under strong onshore winds from the same direction on Saturday. That pretty much leaves Sunday morning as your next-best option for some semi-sheltered options across the Southwest as SW swell holds peak size in the 6 to 8ft range along exposed areas.

Friday
SSW groundswell slowly eases under continued average wind conditions. South West coast: Unsettled early, 3 to 4ft easing. Perth/Mandurah: Clean, 1ft+ early, easing. WIND: Southerly at 10 to 15 knots tending SW. Lighter SE winds across Metro waters in the morning.

Saturday
Combination rise in seas and SW groundswell under fresh onshore winds. South West: Messy, 3 to 4ft, rising 6 to 8ft+. Perth/Mandurah: Messy, 0.5 to 1ft, rising 2ft+ late. WIND: SW tending SSW at 20 to 30 knots.

Sunday
Winds ease into the SSE to SE coupled with a large SW swell. South West: Unsettled, 6 to 8ft+, easing. Perth, Mandurah: Mostly clean, 1 to 2ft+, easing. WIND: SSE at 10 to 15 knots, easing for a period before shifting SSW 15 to 20 knots late afternoon.

An absence of any true easterly breeze will limit wave-quality across the state all weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Dkimber.

An absence of any true easterly breeze will limit wave-quality across the state all weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Dkimber.

South Australia
There’s some great surfing opportunities to capitalise on over the next few days as a strong SSW groundswell coincides with mostly favourable winds, offering up several windows for clean conditions. Surface quality is looking good as the swell peaks on Friday, with early light and variable conditions tending NE, making for improving conditions throughout the day. By Saturday morning conditions are likely to be optimum across south facing coasts as light NE winds greet a still solid 3 to 4ft SSW groundswell; making for great conditions for most of the day. Sunday sees a dropping swell under cross-offshores, tending onshore later in the ay tiny swell, with any quality quickly eroding under strengthening onshore into the afternoon.

Friday
New South to SSW groundswell fills in under offshore winds. South Coast: Clean, 3 to 5ft, largest at magnets. Mid Coast: Clean early at 1 to 1.5ft, easing. WIND: NNE at 5 to 10 knots tending variable sea breezes in the afternoon.

Saturday
SSW groundswell eases slowly as winds show from the north. South Coast: Clean, 3 to 4ft, largest at magnets. Mid Coast: Cross shore wind affected, 0.5 to 1ft. WIND: NNE at 10 to 20 knots shifting W in the afternoon.

Sunday
Pre frontal NW winds shift fresh into the WSW. South Coast: Clean early, 2 to 3ft+, rising. Largest sets at magnets. Mid Coast: Messy 0.5ft, rising windblown 1 to 2ft in the afternoon. WIND: North to NW at 20 to 25 knots before shifting WSW into the morning.

A solid SSW swell and offshore winds hold great potential for SA this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by SSC.

A solid SSW swell and offshore winds hold great potential for SA this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by SSC.


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