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Up to 13 cyclones expected this season with about four to make landfall, BOM says

Ewan Gilbert, Monday October 9, 2017 - 16:30 EDT
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There is a 56 per cent chance Australia will experience an above-average cyclone season. - ABC

Up to 13 tropical cyclones are expected to form around the country over the coming six months, according to the Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) annual outlook.

The bureau said the number was close to the long-term average, and it was predicting a typical season with between 10–13 cyclones.

The official cyclone season starts next month and runs until April.

Climate prediction services manager Andrew Watkins said this year there was a 56 per cent chance the number of tropical cyclones would exceed the average of 11.

"Some people might say 'That's just a 50-50 outlook, you're not really sure what you're saying there', but the reality is we don't really have a strong climate driver this year," Dr Watkins said.

"Things are just slightly pushing towards the above average, but only very slightly."

While most of the cyclones will stay out at sea, Dr Watkins said about four were expected to make landfall.

"When they're out at sea certainly they can do damage to the coast. Large king tides, large storm surges, larger waves," he said.

"But when they cross the coast, when they actually make landfall, that's when the damage can occur to people's properties and livelihoods."

How dangerous will this year's cyclones be?

Predicting the intensity of the upcoming cyclone season is difficult.

"At the moment, we don't really have the capability to be able to predict … how many severe tropical cyclones we will get," Dr Watkins said.

But he said it was reasonable to assume the cyclones would dump a lot more water because of a warming climate.

"We certainly saw that [earlier this year] with , with some quite extreme rainfall when it came ashore."

As for when the cyclones are likely to appear, Dr Watkins said that seemed to be anybody's guess.

"The prediction for last year was for an average to a possibly above average season. It became one of the strangest seasons we've seen," he said

"We only saw one tropical cyclone in the Australian region up until mid-February, and from then until April we actually got eight. So it was quite an extraordinary season.

"Just because it starts quiet doesn't necessarily mean it's going to stay that way."

The country's first cyclone of the season is set to be called Hilda.


© ABC 2017

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