Weekend Surf Forecast 23 - 25 March, 2018

22 Mar 2018 3 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

Issued Thursday, 22 March 2018

There’s a cyclone-swell brewing. Have you seen it? It’s being spawned by Tropical Cyclone Marcus and, just to ensure there’s no confusion, it WILL NOT be lighting up southern Queensland points and NSW coast beaches. That’s because TC Marcus is a rare, West Coast system, currently located about 1,000 kilometres northwest of Exmouth. TC Marcus is forecast to curve poleward over the next 48 hours, whereupon it will, at least in theory, bring a rare NW groundswell to the Margaret River region this weekend. And when I saw rare, I’m talking five years since the last one.

Meanwhile, over east, a demoralising week of stormy onshore surf will finally transform into something surfable this weekend. Both NSW and Queensland coasts benefit from a still energetic round of easterly swell and light winds; at long-last transforming into something very appealing by Saturday morning – and there will be something leftover on Sunday to boot. Further south, both Victorian and South Australian exposed beaches will be offering up clean, user-friendly 2 to 3ft waves on Friday and Saturday, before conditions deteriorate under a strengthening W to SW airflow on Sunday.

Autumn opens up across all states this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Peter Tidds.

Autumn opens up across all states this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Peter Tidds.

Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
The kind of autumn conditions we hope for have been nowhere to be seen this week. The onset of a stormy round of ESE windswell left the vast majority of exposed beaches completely devoid of any quality waves. Thankfully, that’s all set to change over the next 48 hours as the onshore airflow moderates; initially turning to the ENE during Friday, ahead of a favourable transformation in conditions by Saturday morning. This should see leftover E swell producing peaky 3 to 4ft joy under early light WNW to NNW winds across the region. A steady drop in size will follow into the afternoon, but Sunday should still be well worth a surf. A combination of long-range E swell and localised NE windswell continues to see set waves ranging from 2 to 3ft as early light NNW winds make for good conditions before winds freshen out of the NNE during the afternoon.

Friday
Chaotic ESE swell continues. Ranging from 4 to 6ft exposed open and south facing breaks early, before easing to 3 to 5ft during the afternoon. WIND: ESE 10 to 20 knots early, easing and tending ENE during the day and NE later.

Saturday
Combo of easing ESE and ENE swell. Sets ranging from 3 to 4ft exposed breaks early, easing to 2 to 3ft+ during the afternoon. WIND: Early light WNW to NNW tending NNE 12 to 18 knots later.

Sunday
Small E groundswell mixes with slight NE windswell and residual ESE windswell. Sets around 2 to 3ft exposed breaks early, easing later. WIND: Early light NNW 5 to 15 knots tending NNE and freshening to 15 to 20 knots during the afternoon.

At long last, autumn offshores greet an easing easterly swell across the region this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Bohdi Todd.

At long last, autumn offshores greet an easing easterly swell across the region this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Bohdi Todd.

Queensland and Far Northern NSW
On the one hand, local winds are probably not what you might have hoped for this weekend. On the other, there’s enough swell inbound to keep everyone happy for days to come. The close-range ESE fetch responsible for this week’s junky round of tradewind swell belies the existence of a more distant swell-source; linked to a slow moving high east of NZ and a tropical low positioned well south of the Cook Islands. The net-effect of these dual swell-sources is a sustained run of ESE tradewind swell; initially comprised of easing, shorter-period energy, preceding a gradual uptick in period and quality as a more distant, mid-period swell begins to build in throughout the weekend.

Friday
ESE tradewind swell. Up to 4 to 6ft exposed breaks, wrapping in at 3 to 5ft inside the points and bays with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early lighter SSW to SSE inshore, tending ESE to E 15 to 20 knots.

Saturday
Easing ESE swell reinforced by new E groundswell. Solid sets ranging from 4 to 5ft+ exposed breaks, grading to 3 to 5ft inside the points and bays. WIND: Early lighter SSW to SE inshore, tending E 10 to 15 knots.

Sunday
E groundswell slowly eases. Ranging from 4 to 5ft along exposed breaks, easing up during the afternoon. Wrapping at 3 to 4ft into the points and bays. WIND: Early light W/ light and variable tending ENE to NE 10 to 15 knots during the afternoon.

There's waves on tap for days across southern Queensland and northern NSW. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Rabbit23.

There's waves on tap for days across southern Queensland and northern NSW. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Rabbit23.

Victoria
We’re now entering a 48-hour window of good conditions along Victoria’s exposed beaches as an easing SSW groundswell coincides with favourable, northerly quarter winds. This points to clean 2 to 3ft surf prevailing across the exposed Mornington Peninsula beaches both on Saturday and Sunday, with considerably more size on offer across the far southwest of the state. It looks like it’s well worth making the most of both days, given the outlook for Sunday isn’t so flash. A freshening WNW airflow coincides with lower-levels of SW swell; probably making for wind-affected 2ft conditions along the exposed beaches, while grading to a super-clean, but virtually-flat along the Surf Coast.

Friday
Leftover SW swell reinforced by new SSW groundswell. Clean sets ranging from 2 to 3ft along exposed beaches. Slower 1 to 2ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light N to NE land-breezes, tending ENE around 10 to 15 knots later.

Saturday
Small-scale SW groundswell. Slow 2 to 3ft+ sets along exposed beaches, easing during the arvo. Wrapping at about 2ft along the Surf Coast early, smaller later. WIND: N 10 to 15 knots, turning NNW during the afternoon.

Sunday
Faded SW groundswell mixes with slow building WSW windswell. Choppy 1 to 3ft along the exposed beaches, picking up marginally during the afternoon. Inconsistent sets not exceeding 1 to 2ft along the Surf Coast reefs. WIND: Early WNW 10 to 15 knots, freshening to 15 to 25 knots during the afternoon.

Victoria's exposed beaches are shaping up as the pick this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by CavemanDan.

Victoria's exposed beaches are shaping up as the pick this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by CavemanDan.

Western Australia
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it is don’t sleep in on Sunday. Whether or not TC Marcus lives up to expectations and delivers a NW swell to remember is by no means a certainty – but if it does, you’ll probably want to be there to see it. Cyclone swells don’t exactly happen every day along the West Coast (the last one was back in 2013), nor do they always coincide with offshore winds.

Friday
SW swell mix coupled with fresh SSE winds. South West: Cross offshore wind affected, 4 to 5ft. Perth, Mandurah: Cross shore wind affected, 1 to 2ft. WIND: SSE at 20 to 25 knots. Possible lighter Southerly winds across Metro waters in the morning.

Saturday
Mid period WSW swell overlapped by stronger cyclone generated NW groundswell late afternoon. South West: Mostly clean, 3 to 4ft+, rising WNW groundswell speculatively to around 4 to 5ft late. Perth/Mandurah: Mostly clean, 1 to 2ft, rising WNW groundswell speculatively to around 2 to 3ft. WIND: SE 20 to 25 knots

Sunday
Cyclone generated NW groundswell peaks early. South West: Clean, 4 to 6ft, easing. Size dependant on location. Perth/Mandurah: Clean, 2 to 3ft early, easing. WIND: ESE at 15 to 20 knots easing 10 to 15 knots.

Remember the TC Iggy swell back in 2013? Me neither, but apparently there were plenty of beaches doing this kind of thing. Photo: Dan Wyer.

Remember the TC Iggy swell back in 2013? Me neither, but apparently there were plenty of beaches doing this kind of thing. Photo: Dan Wyer.

South Australia
We have a period of clean conditions on offer across exposed South Australian coasts throughout Friday and early Saturday, before conditions deteriorate into Sunday.  A slow moving high pressure ridge maintains a favourable offshore NNE flow across the state for the duration of Friday; for the most part resulting in all-day offshores across southern exposures as SSW groundswell continues to range from 2 to 4ft. Although the swell drops a notch by Saturday conditions will still be well worth surfing – at least until winds swing west during the afternoon. That will render conditions far less appealing on Sunday as westerlies further strengthen and shift WSW during the day.

Friday
Overlapping, minor SSW groundswell under offshore NE winds. South Coast: Clean, 2 to 4ft, largest at magnets. Mid Coast: Clean, 0.5 to 1ft at best. WIND: NE at 10 to 20 knots, easing for a period then shifting SE in the afternoon.

Saturday
Minor SSW groundswell eases off under offshore winds on the South Coast. South Coast: Clean, 2 to 3ft, largest at magnets. Mid Coast: Cross offshore wind affected, flat to 0.5ft. WIND: NNE at 10 to 20 knots rotating NW then into the SW later.

Sunday
Fresh WSW to SW change and a rising stormy swell. South Coast: Wind affected, 1 to 3ft, rising 4ft+. Mid Coast: Messy, 1ft, rising 2 to 3ft. WIND: West, WSW at 15 to 20 knots freshening SW 25 to 30 knots.

There's no shortage of small, clean waves on offer across SA this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Tommyskelly.

There's no shortage of small, clean waves on offer across SA this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Tommyskelly.


Tags: Weekend Surf Forecast , Ben Macartney , Tropical Cyclone Marcus , topnews (create Alert from these tags)

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