Weekend Surf Forecast 20 - 22 December, 2019
COASTALWATCH | WEEKEND SURF FORECAST
Well, Merry Christmas folks! I’m on the cusp of a couple of weeks off – so this is probably the last Weekend Forecast until early January. To be honest, I’m finding it hard to feel the merry in this year’s Christmas. Prolonged drought and the now months-long proliferation of bushfires throughout eastern NSW are now being compounded by more record-breaking high temperatures (not to mention the biggest oceanic heat wave recorded along the West Coast).
And we go to sleep, every night, knowing our government is turning its back on these events at every turn. Then today, the sinking feeling only deepens with the news that a lax Australian regulatory authority has given the nod to Equinox to commence exploratory drilling for oil in the Bight next year. So then, to the waves we go – and as you’ll see below, there’s plenty on tap over the weekend and in the lead up to Christmas.
Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
While far from epic, there are definitely worse places to be than somewhere along the NSW coast in the lead-up to Christmas. Admittedly, Friday is looking pretty woeful, with only slight levels of short-period SSE windswell set to fade rapidly under onshore winds. However, from Saturday onwards the forecast goes from strength to strength; commencing with a small, mid-period pulse arriving on Saturday morning, coinciding with light northerly winds. This small pulse is a precursor to an impressive round of long-period, directional southerly groundswell moving in throughout Sunday and Monday; the by-product of a deep mid-latitude low that’s forecast to rapidly intensify below Victoria and Tasmania on Friday and Saturday. The complicating factor is the local wind-regime; starting out fresh south to southeast as the leading edge of this event fills in on Sunday. That points to Monday morning as the best window to capitalise on the groundswell – and there’s now some interesting, closer range developments taking shape over the course of next week.
Short period SSE windswell. Up to a junky 2ft+ across south facing beaches early, quickly fading during the day. Up to 1 to 2ft elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early light SSE 5 to 15 knots, fading to lighter SE in the morning, before tending East to NE 10 to 15 knots in the afternoon.
Small, mid-period South swell gradually fades. Slower sets around 2 to occasional 3ft across south facing beaches, wrapping at more like 1 to 2ft along open beaches with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early light NW to NNW inshore, turning Northerly in the morning, then NE 15 to 20 knots ahead of a gusty, 20 to 30kt Southerly change in the evening.
New Southerly windswell hampered by onshore winds. Junky 3 to 4ft across south facing beaches, steadily deteriorating and easing a bit during the afternoon. Wrapping at more like 2 to 3ft elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Southerly, tending SSE 15 to 20 knots, easing in the late arvo/ evening.
Queensland and Far Northern NSW
There’s just a hint of easterly tradewind swell in the forecast this weekend – but in the absence of the monsoon trough, it’s worth keeping your expectations in check. A relatively weak ESE fetch setting up over the southern Coral Sea over the next few days offers up minimal spread in easterly swell along the southern Queensland and far northern NSW coasts this weekend. That looks like arriving in the 2ft range, with scope for slightly bigger sets at standout breaks as the bulk of swell fills in over the weekend through Monday. Looking further out into the early to mid next week we have a combination of new swells shaping up out of the south and SSE – and this bodes reasonably well for northern NSW coasts in the lead up to Christmas.
Residual SE swell mixes with slight ESE windswell. Far northern NSW: Slow sets around 2ft exposed coasts, grading 1 to 2ft or less elsewhere. Southern QLD: Up to 1 to 2ft exposed beaches, tending to tiny or near-flat elsewhere. WIND: Early light WNW to NW to 5 to 10 knots, tending NNW to NNE and NE up to 10 to 15 knots in the afternoon.
Small ESE tradewind swell mixing with scope for a slight rise in South swell. Up to 2ft+ exposed coasts, more like 1 to 2ft elsewhere. WIND: Variable WNW to NW up to 5 knots, tending Northerly, NNE and freshening to 10 to 20 knots in the afternoon/ evening.
Slight Easterly tradewind swell mixing with small South swell. Around 2ft+ exposed open and south facing coasts tending 1 to 2ft or less elsewhere. WIND: Early light NW to NNW 10 to 15 knots, tending Northerly, then NNE and fading ahead of a weak SE change stalling south of Ballina in the afternoon.
The exposed beaches are looking like some of the better places to be looking around for a few waves on Friday. A full morning of light to moderate NE winds tending north to NW in the afternoon coincides with an ideally sized SW pulse, opening up all manner of good beach-break conditions across the state. That looks like preceding a pretty lacklustre day on Saturday as rejuvenated onshores greet the tail end of the SW swell. That is, however, set to lead in a major transformation in conditions on Sunday as a powerful round of SW groundswell moves in under a less-than-ideal southerly quarter wind-regime.
Mid period SW groundswell under light offshore winds. Exposed Beaches: Around 3 to 4ft, settling in the afternoon. Surf Coast: Slow sets ranging from 2 to 3ft on the reefs, grading smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early light ENE to NE 5 to 15 knots, tending North to NW ahead of a strong SW change in the late evening.
Small WSW swell reinforced by rising SW swell under continued onshores. Exposed beaches: Junky 2 to 3ft, rising towards a windblown 3 to 4ft in the late afternoon. Surf Coast: slow sets ranging from 1 to 2ft on the reefs, grading smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: SW 10 to 20 knots, tending SSW 15 to 25 knots in the afternoon.
Large SW groundswell arrives under onshore winds. Exposed beaches: Choppy 6 to 10ft sets. Surf Coast: Windy 6 to 8ft on the reefs, wrapping at 3 to 6ft+ levels elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Southerly, tending SSE 10 to 15 knots in the morning and freshening later.
Amongst an otherwise mediocre looking run of cross/ onshore winds, Saturday morning shines through as a great window of surfing opportunity across the Southwest this weekend. The arrival of a broad cold front across the state on Friday leads in a full day of large, onshore conditions that are anticipated to gradually settle down into the afternoon. That should lead in a full morning of light offshore winds greeting leftover SW swell ranging anywhere from 3 to 6ft across the region, before conditions start to deteriorate once more into the afternoon, leading in smaller surf under southerly quarter winds on Sunday.
WSW swell gradually eases under southerly winds. South West: Wind affected 6 to 8ft+ sets across exposed coasts, a bit smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure and settling later. Perth: Around 1 to 2ft+. WIND: SW 15 to 20 knots, easing to 10 to 15 knots during the morning, briefly variable before swinging SW to SSW and freshening in the afternoon.
Mix of easing SW swell and reinforcing SSW groundswell under early offshore winds. Southwest: Clean 3 to 5ft across exposed coasts, settling in the afternoon. Perth: Clean 1 to 2ft exposed beaches. WIND: Easterly, ESE 10 to 15 knots, turning lighter ENE during the morning, then shifting SW to SSW 10 to 20 knots in the afternoon.
Easing SSW swell with early cross-offshore winds. South West: 3 to 4ft sets across exposed breaks, more like 2 to 3ft+ elsewhere with size depending on exposure. Perth/Mandurah: Around 1ft and easing later. WIND: Southerly, SSW 15 to 20 knots, freshening in the afternoon.
Onshore winds take the shine off mostly small SW swell across the state on Friday and Saturday, before conditions transform in a big way on Sunday. The onset of a significant round of long SW groundswell brings large and powerful surf to all South Coast venues on Sunday – and there’s also likely to be some pretty fun-sized options across the Mid Coast. The sticking point, however, will be local conditions; in all likelihood hampered by onshore ESE to SE winds, turning Southerly in the afternoon.
Easing SW groundswell. South Coast: Inconsistent 2 to 4ft at Waits and Parsons. Wrapping at a slow 1 to 2ft along Middleton to Goolwa. Mid Coast: 1ft+. WIND: Early NNE 15 to 25 knots, shifting NW to WNW ahead of a SW change 20 to 25 knots in the early afternoon.
Leftover SW swell mixes with rising SSW. South Coast: Junky sets around 2 to 3ft+ around Waits and Parsons, building in the afternoon. Wrapping at about 1ft+ from Middleton to Goolwa. Mid Coast: Around 0.5ft. WIND: Southerly 15 to 25 knots, tending SSE in the arvo.
Scope for large and powerful SSW groundswell. South Coast: Speculatively 5 to 8ft around Waits and Parsons, wrapping at 3 to 5ft from Middleton to Goolwa. Mid Coast: Around 2 to 3ft. WIND: SE 10 to 15 knots, tending SSE in the afternoon.
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