About Tropical Cyclones in NSW

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Tropical cyclone services for NSW are provided by the Brisbane Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre [TCWC].

The Eastern Area of Responsibility extends southward to 32°S, which is equivalent to a line from Lord Howe Island to Taree, Gloucester, Scone, Trangie and Broken Hill. Note this area excludes Norfolk Island which is covered by the New Zealand Tropical Cyclone Warning Service.

Brisbane Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre -  Eastern Area of Responsibility

What warnings are issued for tropical cyclones in NSW?

While tropical cyclones do not impact NSW very often, they have caused flooding, destructive winds, storm surges and loss of life. When a tropical cyclone is affecting NSW the Brisbane TCWC will issue an TC Advice for NSW and a Tropical Cyclone Forecast Track Map. Both these products will appear under Current Warnings for NSW on the Bureau's Website. Information is also available via the Bureau's Telephone Weather Services: Tropical Cyclone Warnings 1300 659 212.

It is likely that Severe Weather Warnings and Flood Warnings will also be current before, during and after tropical cyclone warnings.

How do tropical cyclones affect NSW?

Four scenarios generally cover the most likely impacts in NSW:

  1. A tropical cyclone making landfall in NSW from the east.
    • TC Nancy in February 1990, crossed the NSW coast near Byron Bay as a category 2 cyclone before moving seawards once again. Five people drowned in northern NSW (and a sixth in Queensland) as a result of flooding.
    • On 20 February 1954 TC137 crossed the coast near Tweed Heads as a severe tropical cyclone, then moved southwards inland from Ballina, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie as a category 1 cyclone. Twenty six people died in NSW during this event.
  2. Tropical cyclone making landfall in the Gulf of Carpentaria and moving overland towards the southeast over Queensland and then NSW
    • On 12-13 January 1964, TC Audrey tracked from the Gulf of Carpentaria crossing the coast again at Coffs Harbour as a category 2 cyclone. Audrey left a trail of destruction over inland NSW.
    • From 16-19 January 1950, a TC119 tracked from the Gulf to Sydney as a category 1 cyclone. Seven people died in NSW and Sydney recorded its lowest ever pressure of 988hPa.
  3. Tropical cyclones remaining well offshore but generating huge swells on NSW coast
    • TC Yali on 26 March 1998 passed seawards over 500 km east of Brisbane on a southerly track. The Byron Bay wave recording station recorded significant wave heights to 5.0 m and a peak wave height of 9.7 m on the 26th of March. Beach erosion extended from the Sunshine Coast to northern New South Wales beaches.
    • TC Pam on 6 February 1974 resulted in huge waves and damage on Sydney beaches
  4. Tropical cyclones impacting Lord Howe Island or Norfolk Islands
    • TC Wati on March 2006 tracked between Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, but weakened.
    • TC Drena in January 1997 passed over Norfolk Island,
    • TC Pam (February 1974) and TC Kirsty (February 1973) both narrowly missed Lord Howe Island.

NSW Regional Office, October 2007