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Wind, rain and waves threaten east coast

Ben Domensino, Tuesday June 6, 2017 - 12:54 EST

The first east coast low of winter will cause wet and windy conditions along parts of the New South Wales coast during the next 24 hours, although some areas will escape the severe weather.

A pool of cold air a few kilometres above the surface will pass over the western Tasman Sea today, causing a low pressure system at the surface to deepen.

This low will fit into a category of mid-latitude cyclones (not tropical cyclones) called east coast lows, which are simply sub-tropical low pressure systems that form or intensify near Australia's east coast.

These systems typically cause wind, rain and wave heights to increase along Australia's east coast between about Fraser Island and eastern Victoria.

Every east coast low has a different effect on Australia's eastern seaboard, depending on its strength, locating and duration.

Due to the clockwise rotation of air around east coast lows, severe weather on the eastern seaboard most commonly occurs to the south of its core, while conditions can remain dry and settled to its north. Past east coast lows have caused flooding in Wollongong, while significantly less rain fell in Sydney and Newcastle.

Australia typically experiences around seven East Coast Lows each year. Most of these occur during autumn and winter, with a peak frequency in the month of June. A standout year was 2007, when five east coast lows formed during June alone, including a system that grounded the Pashsa Bulker near Newcastle.

Today's east coast low will focus its energy on the southern coast of New South Wales, where a severe weather warning has been issued for damaging winds. Gusts of up to 90km/h are possible along coastal areas south of about Wollongong from this afternoon.

Blustery winds, showers and large waves will spread along the state's southern and central coasts during the next 2-3 days as the low moves further north.

Multi-day rainfall accumulations may exceed 100mm for parts of the coastal fringe south of Wollongong, although little if any rain is expected to fall west of the ranges.

Rain, wind and waves may also increase for northeast New South Wales and southeast Queensland later in the week. However, there is still some uncertainty regarding the future development of this system.

This east coast low is much weaker than the system that caused widespread flooding and significant coastal erosion during June last year.

Severe weather is still possible, so be sure to monitor warnings during the remainder of this week if you live in eastern New South Wales or south of Fraser Island in Queensland.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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