Cyclone warning!

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has revealed the cyclone forecast for the 2015-2016 season and fewer tropical cyclones are expected, compared with the historical average.

The El Niño weather cycle currently gripping the country typically reduces the number of cyclones and it looks as though this season will be no different.

“The Australian region has only a 9% chance of having more tropical cyclones than average, meaning a 91% chance of having fewer tropical cyclones than average,” the season outlook says.

“Typically, around 4 tropical cyclones cross the Australian coastline in a season. Outlook accuracy for the Australian region is high.”

Historical averages show 11 cyclones occurring over the full season, with only four making landfall, but Dr Andrew Watkins, from BOM, notes that the El Niño cycle does not mean cyclones will disappear entirely.

“The long-term average number of tropical cyclones in Australia during the November to April cyclone season is eleven. This year we expect fewer tropical cyclones than normal because of the effects of the strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

“The El Nino is expected to continue into 2016, and typically delays the date of the first cyclone to cross the Australian coast,” Dr Watkins said.

“While El Niño is typically associated with fewer cyclones and a later start to the season, there has never been a cyclone season without at least one tropical cyclone crossing the Australia coast.”

In a regional breakdown, the BOM note that the Western region of Australia has a 75% chance of fewer cyclones while the Northwest sees an 85% chance of fewer storms.

The Northern region has a 64% chance of avoiding historical averages while the Eastern region is similarly placed with a 74% chance of fewer than average cyclones.

With lower than average numbers expected, the outlook does warn those living in cyclone-affected regions to prepare for cyclone season as the disastrous effects of under preparation are well-known.

“We know from history the devastating effect even small cyclones have had on our communities,” Dr Watkins added.

“In January 2013, Oswald caused major flooding for virtually the entire Queensland coast as it tracked steadily south as an ex-tropical cyclone, or tropical low.”