Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

Western Australia’s first tropical cyclone of the year could hit before Christmas, as the weather bureau predicts an earlier and potentially more frequent cyclone season.

The Bureau of Meteorology has published its seasonal outlook for tropical cyclones, which also predicts that the harmful wind storms may travel further south than usual.

It said it was driven by warmer sea temperatures and an increased chance of a La Niña phenomenon developing later in the year.

Senior meteorologist Andrew Burton said it was possible the state could see more cyclones than usual.

“Typically, we don’t see the first cyclone until around Christmas or after Christmas,” he said.

“This season we need to be ready as soon as December comes.”

A weather agency map shows Cyclone Vance's trail.
The La Niña effect and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures have affected this year’s outlook for tropical cyclones.(AFP)

“Because we get more early cyclones, we often end up with more cyclones – but we generally get the same number of severe tropical cyclones, and those are the ones that really do the damage, and these are the ones we really need to look out for.”

Cyclones can ‘affect anywhere’

While the coastline between Broome and Exmouth in the north of WA was the most cyclone-prone region in Australia, the agency warned that cyclones could reach further south.

Earlier this year, the Severe Tropical Cyclone Seroja tore through the state’s Midwest region, with winds of up to 170 kilometers per hour, leaving a trail of destruction in Kalbarri and further inland.

Cyclone Seroja and subsequent damage
Cyclone Seroja left a trail of damage in WA’s Mid West West and Gascoyne regions.(News video)

Burton said people living outside the typical cyclone impact zones needed to prepare for this year.

“The important lesson from last season is that cyclones can also affect anywhere along the west coast, all the way down to Augusta,” he said.

“[They are] very rare events, but they can be very harmful events.

Acting Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Commissioner Craig Waters said both locals and visitors should make a plan in advance.

“It only takes a significant cyclone to have a significant impact on society,” he said.

“It is important to understand that cyclones can and can occur anytime, anywhere.

“People traveling to the area must have an emergency kit that must include a battery-powered portable radio, a cell phone, chargers, a flashlight with extra batteries and enough food and water to last for five days.”

Holidayers ‘need to heed warnings’

Sir. Waters said authorities expect an increase in intrastate travel, similar to last year, as boundary restrictions for COVID-19 remain in place.

“We expect that many tourists from the southwest will travel up to the northwestern part of the state, and these people may not be aware of the risks associated with either tropical lows, floods or tropical cyclones,” he said.

“We saw a significant number of people claiming rescues last year during floods and we will not see it again, it is extremely dangerous.

“You should not park or camp in dry riverbeds, as these can usually flood with a moment’s notice.”

Click here to read the DFES guide to preparing tropical cyclones.

If you have been affected by Cyclone Seroja or the Perth forest fire, welfare assistance may be available through the Department of Communities.

Please contact the disaster response hotline on 1800 032 965

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