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Cyclone swell brings large, excellent surf to Southeast QLD and NSW coasts

Felix Levesque, Saturday February 15, 2020 - 09:49 EDT

As Tropical Cyclone Uesi moved southwards past New Caledonia and transitioned to a mid-latitude low near Lord Howe Island, its intense winds generated a sizable swell, directed towards mainland Australia.


Yesterday morning saw wave height rapidly gain size into the 2-3m range offshore of Sydney, with a 6m wave recorded around 11am. This sizable easterly swell comes as a more mid-range period swell, compared to the very large, short period windswell which brought significant beach erosion and wild oceans last weekend. 


Conditions are very clean across much of the NSW coast this morning with light winds, tending offshore across Sydney. The lingering large swell will limit options for surf riders as only a few sandbars, bomboras, reefs and points may handle the size and direction this morning. Workable options may increase by this afternoon as the swell ease in size however. Prime conditions in the morning look to deteriorate somewhat as winds tend more onshore in the afternoon for much of the coast. It is also important to note that recent flooding rainfall has brought heavy rain runoff into local waters of Sydney, increasing the risk of contamination. This rain has also caused debris such as large logs to enter surf zones and beach areas.


Point breaks across much of southeast QLD saw great waves, with southerly winds bringing excellent conditions on Friday. The Gold Coast wave buoy recorded waves in the 3m range throughout Friday, with maximum wave height reaching 6m. Surf conditions across the points of the sunny state look to deteriorate into the morning as the swell fades further and shifts to the south. Light and variable winds this morning will increase from the east by midday, and look to shift to the northeast later in the day. This may however improve conditions across the south facing back beaches in the afternoon.


While cyclone swells are enviable conditions for experienced surf riders, these large waves pose a serious hazard to people, especially when the ocean can look relatively calm and inviting in between large sets of waves. A Hazardous Surf Warning is currently in place for the NSW coast from the Coffs Coast to the Eden Coast. This warning advises people to stay out of the water, and away from areas exposed to these large waves. Anyone planning to go boating or rock fishing should also consider the conditions as these large waves increase the risk of boat capsizing or being swept off any rock platform greatly. To view current warnings, visit:

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