An intensifying weather system out to sea is generating vigorous southerly winds along the Illawarra coast on Sunday, with gusts in excess of 90km/h likely during the afternoon.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather alert for gale force winds along the NSW coastal fringe from Jervis Bay to north of Newcastle.
The bureau says damaging winds averaging 60 to 70km/h, with peak gusts in excess of 90km/h, are likely over parts of the Illawarra, Sydney and Hunter coastal fringe from Sunday afternoon.
Wind gusts of 70km/h have already been recorded at Albion Park and Bellambi on Sunday morning, with gusts of 67km/h registered at Kiama and Nowra.
The winds are expected to ease overnight.
A deepening low pressure system over the central Tasman Sea, combined with a strengthening high pressure ridge in the east of the state, is responsible for the strong winds.
The persistent southerly winds are keeping a lid on temperatures across the Illawarra on Sunday morning.
At 10.30am, it was 20.2 degrees in Albion Park but felt more like 11.7 degrees.
On the coast, the air temperature at Bellambi was 19.1 degrees at 10.27am, but the feels like temp was only just into double digits (10.3 degrees).
Wollongong is heading for a forecast maximum of 21 degrees on Sunday, while it should reach 22 at Albion Park.
Temperatures will climb gradually over coming days, reaching highs of 34 degrees in the city and 38 inland on Friday.
Meanwhile, a number of Illawarra beaches are closed due to dangerous conditions on Sunday.