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Severe cyclone threat forecast to move south into NSW

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Tropical cyclones will cause devastation further south along the Australian coast and large hail will become a greater risk in parts of NSW and Victoria as temperatures rise, a report released today by IAG and the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) says.

The report, Severe Weather in a Changing Climate, focuses on perils that drive property risks and looks beneath broader geographical approaches to show impacts at regional and local levels.

IAG EM Natural Perils Mark Leplastrier says the report highlights that higher intensity tropical cyclones moving further south is a key risk as temperatures increase by up to three degrees.

“This means that parts of southeast Queensland and northeast NSW will start to experience greater devastation from strong winds and torrential rainfall due to cyclones,” he said.

“These regions are densely populated and to safeguard these communities now and into the future, there needs to be greater investment across all sectors to reduce the financial and physical burden as the climate warms.”

Regions in NSW and Victoria are likely to be impacted by more damage from hail measuring 2cm diameter or greater. Areas facing the largest risk increases are from the Hunter River through to the southern NSW highlands, as well as central to eastern Victoria. Severe hail risk is expected to decrease in Queensland.

IAG claims experience shows damage to property and motor vehicles is mostly caused by 2cm or larger hail, with damage rising significantly if “giant” sizes of at least 5cm are reached.

Intense rainfall is expected to increase almost everywhere in Australia, resulting in more frequent flooding in urban areas and in small river catchments, while rising sea levels are increasing the risk of coastal damage to buildings and infrastructure.

“The multi-day impacts of east coast lows on the south-eastern seaboard of Australia are expected to increase because of wind-driven rainfall ingress, flash and riverine flooding,” the report says.

“This effect will be compounded by rising impacts from storm surge, waves and coastal erosion.”

Bushfire risks are also likely to increase in almost all states, leading to more frequent and extreme heat and longer fire seasons, particularly in southeast Australia.

The research is based on latest climate data and extreme weather event predictions, based on a range of warming temperatures, up to 3 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times.

“This report shows that our climate is changing more rapidly than some have predicted, so it is critical there is a co-ordinated national approach from Governments industries and businesses to build more resilient communities and reduce the impact of disasters,” IAG CEO Peter Harmer said.

IAG and NCAR are currently working on a joint project to apply the latest climate modelling to better understand how tropical cyclones will change in the future.

The work will be released through peer-reviewed journal articles in 2020.