The Bureau of Meteorology is reminding Australians to prepare for the upcoming tropical cyclone season with the release of its outlook.
A typical Australian tropical cyclone season – which runs from November to April – sees between 10 and 13 cyclones occurring in Australian waters, with around four of these crossing the coastline.
Senior Climatologist Dr Paul Gregory said tropical cyclones can occur at any time throughout the season and even tropical cyclones well offshore can have significant impacts on coastal areas due to storm surges and rough seas.
“While the tropical cyclone outlook points to a typical season, as we saw earlier in 2017 with severe tropical cyclone Debbie, one event can have a devastating effect on a number of communities.
“It is rare that cyclones are evenly spread across the season. Last season saw only one tropical cyclone form before mid-February 2017—which was a very late start. But then eight subsequent cyclones in the region brought the season’s total to nine.
When Tropical cyclone Blanche crossed the West Australian coast on 6 March 2017, it was the latest date that the first cyclone had crossed the coast on record.
“Tropical lows also form during the severe weather season. While these may lack the damaging winds and storm surges of cyclones, they can still cause widespread and very intense rainfall and dangerous flooding,” he said.
Neutral to weak La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and slightly warmer-than-average ocean temperatures to the north and east of Australia, are affecting this season’s outlook.
Tropical cyclones are low pressure systems that form over warm tropical waters and have at least gale force winds (sustained winds of 63 km per hour and gusts of 90 km per hour or more) near their centre.
9 October 2017 marks the start of severe weather public awareness campaigns in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.