A low-pressure system off New Zealand is driving swells all the way to Australia’s east coast, combining with hazardous winds and high tides to make for a wild weekend near, in and on the water.
According to Helen Kirkup from the BOM’s NSW forecast centre, the low is expected to deepen significantly on Friday and Saturday, driving persistent southerly winds.
“As this southerly air stream just continuously blows, it means the swell does increase over time,” she said.
Impacts will start to be felt from Friday afternoon along the NSW coast, continuing over the weekend and possibly extending into Monday. Hazardous surf warnings have been issued.
The effect was already being felt in Queensland earlier on Friday.
“We’re seeing about 2.5-metre to three-metre swells at the moment off the Gold Coast,” Matt Marshall. from the BOM’s Queensland office, said.
Gale-force winds forecast for Friday and Saturday expected to further increase the significant wave heights.
“About seven metres possibly in places, which when you look at average wave heights, that means the odd wave will be more like 10 metres,” Ms Kirkup said.
The current high tides are also contributing to potential coastal impacts.
Keep out of the water
Surf Life Saving NSW called for people to consider staying out of the water and reminded that beaches were not patrolled this time of year.
It warned the conditions would be a struggle for even experienced surfers, and particularly stressed the risk to rock fishers. Anglers are strongly recommended to give it a miss this weekend.
The saving grace is that the swell is coming from a southerly direction, meaning most beaches along the east coast will not bear the brunt.
“It’s generally not as big of an event when it’s a southerly swell, even if it’s a strong southerly swell,,” Mr Marshall said.
“For the swell to hit the beaches, it has to refract around and it tends to weaken a fair bit as it does.”
But that does not mean all locations are off the hook.
“Lord Howe and Norfolk [islands] are going to see some very big swells coming through from this,” Ms Kirkup said.
Winds could also turn more south-easterly on Sunday, she added, bringing a higher chance of beach erosion.