Storm threat looms despite benevolent outlook

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Meteorologists are predicting a cyclone season less severe than usual but have warned there is no room for complacency, with at least one cyclone almost guaranteed to make landfall.

Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) modelling has found that El Niño conditions are likely to slightly decrease the risk of cyclones across the nation this summer.

However, BoM Queensland Regional Director Rob Webb says there will still be cyclone activity.

“Each summer brings increased risk associated with severe weather,” he says.

“With warmer temperatures and increased moisture, there is more energy in the atmosphere and this fuels tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and a greater likelihood of flooding.

“It only takes one cyclone to ruin your summer, and if that cyclone crosses the cost in a heavily populated area, the impact can be devastating. We’ve seen severe tropical cyclones impact the coast in years with similar indicators, so now is the time to make sure you’re ready for the wet season.”

Bradley Santos, BoM’s Western Australia Acting Regional Manager of Severe Weather, says the coastal communities between Broome and Exmouth in Western Australia faced the highest cyclone risk in Australia.

“At this early stage, the bureau cannot predict the likely path or intensity of any individual cyclone,” he says.

“Northwest communities need to be aware of the latest tropical cyclone and flood forecasts throughout the season.”

NIBA CEO Dallas Booth urges brokers to make sure their clients are ready for the storm season, which officially begins next week.

“We’ve seen enough examples in recent years of the damage that can be caused by cyclones and storms in a very short amount of time, such as the Bundaberg floods of 2013,” he says.

“Even if the risk of flooding and cyclone is slightly reduced this year, there is still the potential for communities to be devastated by storm events and that’s why it is imperative people make sure their insurance arrangements are all in order.”