Cyclone season predicted to be above average

Australians should start preparing for a return to a more active tropical cyclone season in 2016–17, according to the Bureau of Meteorology outlook released this week.

Climate Prediction Services Manager Dr Andrew Watkins said Australians should expect an average to above-average tropical cyclone season, due to neutral to weak La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

“This year we’re experiencing warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures around northern Australia, and this will help to fuel the tropical cyclone season ahead.

“History shows that in an average season, about eleven cyclones form in the Australian region between November and April. On average, four of these will make landfall.”

Understand Insurance spokesman Campbell Fuller says even an average cyclone season can leave behind a trail of destruction.

“An average cyclone season typically sees 11 cyclones in Australian waters, with four making landfall. An above-average year could bring many more than that, and each one has the potential to cause catastrophic damage if it crosses the coast in a heavily-populated area,” he says.

“Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia left behind insured losses of $544 million from more than 37,000 claims when it struck near Rockhampton 18 months ago. The losses from 2011’s Cyclone Yasi were almost three times that level at $1.4 billion.

“Historically, cyclones have tracked as far down the coast as Newcastle in the east, and south of Perth in the west, so many more Australians are exposed than may realise.”

Brokers can advise their clients that households and businesses can take many steps to protect their properties from cyclones. It is vital to have enough insurance cover to fully repair property or even replace buildings if disaster does strike.

Some steps to protect against cyclone damage for households as well as businesses include:
• Removing dead or rotting trees and trim branches that overhang the property
• Securing all loose items outside a property including garden furniture, umbrellas, sheds and children’s cubby houses
• Clearing gutters, and checking that gutters and the roof of the property are secure
• Checking the condition of roofs and repair any damage or loose tiles
• Securing any boats or vehicles and move cars under cover
• Preparing a room-by-room inventory of home contents
• Preparing a storm readiness kit, including a torch, radio, candles, matches, new batteries and any important documents or contact numbers
• Knowing where and how to turn off mains power, water, gas and solar power

The Bureau encourages the community to stay up to date with its latest forecasts and warnings at www.bom.gov.au, via its new BOM Weather app, or by following us on Twitter at @bom_qld, @bom_nt or @bom_wa.

When a cyclone is approaching your area, stay tuned for the latest Bureau of Meteorology forecasts and warnings, and follow the advice of your local emergency services agency.