Don't try rock fishing over the weekend - it may result in tragedy.
Don't try rock fishing over the weekend - it may result in tragedy. Contributed

Beachgoers warned while surfers relish big cyclone swell

POWERFUL surf up to 4m is expected to peak on the Far North Coast today with life savers warning all but the most experienced swimmers and surfers to stay out of the water.

With a high tide around noon shorebreak surges could also envelope local beaches, break inshore sand bars, and cause widespread erosion at exposed spots.

Lifesavers were kept busy yesterday morning as the swell started to build, with three emergencies - one at Byron Bay and two at Cabarita - all which thankfully ended safely.

At the same time down at Lennox Point there were a few dedicated riders willing to brave the building swell for a memorable ride.

Both Byron Bay and Lennox Head main beaches were closed by the afternoon, with the expectations that more patrolled spots could be closed this morning.

"It will be pretty treacherous across all beaches over coming days," Surf Life Saving Far North Coast duty officer Jimmy Keough said.

"It's highly recommended that beachgoers stay out of the water over the weekend.

"We will see plenty of people viewing the conditions but that's probably best thing to be doing. Don't take on the conditions - it could spoil someone's weekend."

Duty forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology Andrew Hague said the system responsible for the conditions, ex-Tropical Cyclone Winston, was moving in a westerly direction at about Brisbane latitudes, generating large and long-period waves.

Mr Hague said waves yesterday afternoon off Byron Bay were hitting 2.5m with a peak periods - the time between wave crests - of up to 15 seconds, which was particularly high for the North Coast.

"It could nudge 4m pretty easily overnight and tomorrow - that's pretty serious surf," he said.

"Experienced surfers will probably love it, and they probably won't have too much trouble with it, but if you're not an experienced surfer it's probably not safe to go in.

"Also particularly dangerous are things like rock fishing... if you get a deceptively powerful wave crashing into the rocks it can come come up it can sweep you off the rocks, which happens pretty regularly in NSW."

Ex-TC Winston is expected to weaken and move north into Sunday and the waves are forecast to ease off considerably by the end of the weekend.



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