Tropical Cyclones have hit in NSW before, but rarely and usually of lower intensity. Tropical cyclone Nancy was a Cat 2 cyclone when it crossed the coast near Byron Bay in February 1990. An unnamed Cat 3 cyclone crossed the coast in far northern NSW in February 1954.
The research suggests though that one of the effects of climate change will be more intense cyclones, further south. Like much about climate change, it is the change that is a big issue. In north Queensland, building codes and development zones are set up to take the risk of cyclones into account.
Below are some of the sources I used when I went down the rabbit hole of “Do the people building mansions on the spit at Belongil know something I don’t? Because all that spit looks like it could just disappear in a cyclonic storm surge.”
Adaptation options for managing coastal risks under climate change | CoastAdapt n.d., viewed 1 July 2020, <https://coastadapt.com.au/adaptation-options>.
Altman, J, Ukhvatkina, ON, Omelko, AM, Macek, M, Plener, T, Pejcha, V, Cerny, T, Petrik, P, Srutek, M, Song, J-S, Zhmerenetsky, AA, Vozmishcheva, AS, Krestov, PV, Petrenko, TY, Treydte, K & Dolezal, J 2018, ‘Poleward migration of the destructive effects of tropical cyclones during the 20th century’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 115, no. 45, p. 11543.
Huxley, C, 2011, Belongil Creek Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan Discussion Paper 7 –
Climate Change and Flood Planning Levels Assessment, Byron Shire Council
Knutson, T., and Coauthors, 2020: Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part II: Projected Response to Anthropogenic Warming. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 101, E303–E322, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0194.1.
Kossin, J., Emanuel, K. & Vecchi, G. The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity. Nature 509, 349–352 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13278
Leslie, LM, Karoly, DJ, Leplastrier, M & Buckley, BW 2007, ‘Variability of tropical cyclones over the southwest Pacific Ocean using a high-resolution climate model’, Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, vol. 97, no. 1–4, pp. 171–180.
Sea-level rise and future climate information for coastal councils | CoastAdapt n.d., viewed 8 June 2017, <https://coastadapt.com.au/sea-level-rise-information-all-australian-coastal-councils#NSW_BYRON>.