SEVERE weather experts are warning North-West communities to batten down now for an above average number of cyclones this season. Two cyclones are expected to hit the coast, with a ‘significant risk’ of at least one severe tropical cyclone impacting WA this year, according to forecasters at the WA Bureau of Meteorology.
Coastal communities between Broome and Exmouth face the highest cyclone risk of anywhere in Australia and the season starts on November 1. “Climate models are trending toward another La Nina episode, which would lead us to expect a slightly higher than average number of tropical cyclones, however, no two La Nina events are the same,” BOM Severe Weather Services manager Andrew Burton said.
La Nina conditions are where lower sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean create a see-saw of pressure, triggering thunderstorm and cyclone activity. “While this La Nina may be weaker than the last, this doesn’t mean Western Australia can expect fewer tropical cyclones than the previous season,” Mr Burton said.
Last year, where the La Nina phenomenon was much stronger, WA experienced an average season with five tropical cyclones off the northwest coast.
The strong La Nina conditions caused an above average number of tropical lows which didn’t intensify into tropical cyclones.
“For most people a bad season is one when their community is directly affected. Last season’s severe flooding in the Gascoyne was not directly associated with a tropical cyclone, but is an example of how tropical lows can also cause significant flooding,” said Mr Burton.