The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting an average to below-average tropical cyclone season this year.
There’s good news for people living in cyclone-prone areas of Australia, with fewer tropical cyclones predicted this season.
But residents are still being urged to have an emergency plan in place and not be complacent.
The Bureau of Meteorology released its annual Tropical Cyclone Outlook on Monday, with activity expected to range between average to below-average this 2014-15 season.
For Australia as a whole, the Tropical Cyclone Outlook indicates a 66 per cent chance of having fewer tropical cyclones than normal.
Breaking it down to regions, the outlook forecasts a below-average season for Australia’s north-west, but near-average activity for the country’s west, north and east.
In a typical year, about 11 tropical cyclones form in the oceans surrounding northern Australia between November and April.
“History shows that about half of all cyclones that form over Australian waters have some impact on coastal regions, which means that even during an average or below-average season we would expect to see a number of impacts for communities in northern Australia,” said the bureau’s Climate Prediction Manager Andrew Watkins.
The main reason behind the forecast is El Nino-like weather patterns resulting in cooler ocean temperatures, which often lead to fewer tropical cyclones.
Still, Dr Watkins said people can’t be complacent.
In past El Nino years, there has been at least one cyclone to cross the Australian coast, he said, warning that even one can cause significant damage and be potentially fatal.
The release of the Tropical Cyclone Outlook coincides with the Queensland Government’s launch of RACQ Get Ready Week.
“The Bureau of Meteorology has indicated around four cyclones will form this storm season and at least one could cross the coast, so now is the time for Queenslanders to prepare,” Queensland Community Recovery and Resilience Minister David Crisafulli told media on Monday.
Flooding is likely to be less widespread than previous years, he said, but it should always be expected somewhere in the state every year, so early preparation is crucial.
“Quite simply, an evacuation plan is not grabbing a rope that is dangling from a helicopter when water is lapping at the top of your roof. That is a get-out-of-jail strategy,” Mr Crisafulli said.
The Bureau’s Western Australia Acting Regional Manager of Severe Weather Bradley Santos said even though a below-average season is predicted, that’s no indication of the threat to communities.
“Every season brings the risk of wind damage, storm surge, flooding and being cut off from food and basic resources, and there is simply no room for complacency,” Mr Santos said.
Coastal communities between Broome and Exmouth face the highest cyclone risk in Australia, he said.