BOM is­sues pre­dic­tions for sea­son

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

QUEENS­LAND is pre­dicted to have a below-av­er­age cy­clone sea­son this year, ac­cord­ing to a new out­look for the sea­son.

The pre­dic­tions are ac­cord­ing to the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy 2018-19 Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Out­look which was re­leased this week.

The out­look said the east­ern re­gion, which in­cludes Queens­land, the Coral Sea and the Tas­man Sea, had a 60 per cent chance of fewer trop­i­cal cy­clones than av­er­age, and a 40 per cent chance of more.

The out­look, how­ever, came with a warn­ing that out­look ac­cu­racy for this re­gion was low.

About a quar­ter of trop­i­cal cy­clones in the east­ern re­gion make land­fall.

The out­look showed fewer trop­i­cal cy­clones than usual were likely in the Aus­tralian re­gion this sea­son. How­ever, Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy se­nior cli­ma­tol­o­gist Greg Brown­ing stressed all coastal com­mu­ni­ties in north­ern Aus­tralia could be im­pacted by a trop­i­cal cy­clone.

“On av­er­age Aus­tralia sees 11 cy­clones in its re­gion in ev­ery sea­son with four coastal cross­ings and we’ve never had a sea­son on record with­out at least one cy­clone cross­ing the coast,” Mr Brown­ing said.

“So, while this sea­son’s out­look sug­gests the po­ten­tial for a slightly lower than av­er­age num­ber of cy­clones, the chances of a com­mu­nity be­ing af­fected by a trop­i­cal cy­clone re­main high.

“And as many com­mu­ni­ties in north­ern Aus­tralia un­for­tu­nately know, it only takes one cy­clone to cause wide­spread dam­age.

“Even cy­clones that don’t reach the coast can still have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact through heavy rain­fall, storm surges and large waves.”

One of the key fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing the below-av­er­age out­look was neu­tral to weak El Niño con­di­tions in the trop­i­cal Pa­cific Ocean.

“Dur­ing El Niño years the first cy­clone to make land­fall

nor­mally oc­curs around the sec­ond week of Jan­uary, a few weeks later than nor­mal.

“How­ever, cy­clone for­ma­tion is rarely spread evenly through­out the sea­son with quiet pe­ri­ods of­ten fol­lowed by pe­ri­ods of higher ac­tiv­ity.

“We’ve al­ready seen an early sea­son cy­clone in the Fi­jian area of re­spon­si­bil­ity, the first recorded in Septem­ber in their re­gion.”

While cy­clones are one of the key con­cerns dur­ing the com­ing months, there are also the threats of bush­fires, heat­waves, thun­der­storms and flood­ing rain.

Based on cur­rent and pre­dicted fu­ture con­di­tions there is an in­creased like­li­hood of bush­fire ac­tiv­ity and heat waves through­out parts of east­ern and south­ern Aus­tralia, while the chances of wide­spread flood­ing events are less likely.

The risk of thun­der­storm ac­tiv­ity re­mains av­er­age.

“Aus­tralia’s weather can change quickly and the best way to min­imise the im­pacts is by be­ing pre­pared,” Mr Brown­ing said.

PHOTO: ALIX SWEENEY

CY­CLONE OUT­LOOK: The streets of Air­lie Beach dur­ing Cy­clone Deb­bie. Fewer cy­clones are pre­dicted for this sea­son in Queens­land.

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