CYCLONE OUTLOOK: The streets of Airlie Beach during Cyclone Debbie. Fewer cyclones are predicted for this season in Queensland.
CYCLONE OUTLOOK: The streets of Airlie Beach during Cyclone Debbie. Fewer cyclones are predicted for this season in Queensland. Alix Sweeney

Fewer cyclones are expected

QUEENSLAND is predicted to have a below-average cyclone season this year, according to a new outlook for the season.

The predictions are according to the Bureau of Meteorology 2018-19 Tropical Cyclone Outlook which was released this week.

The outlook said the eastern region, which included Queensland, the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea, had a 60 per cent chance of fewer tropical cyclones than average, and a 40 per cent chance of more.

The outlook, however, came with a warning that outlook accuracy for this region was low.

About a quarter of tropical cyclones in the eastern region make landfall.

The outlook showed fewer tropical cyclones than usual were likely in the Australian region this season. However, Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Greg Browning stressed all coastal communities in northern Australia could be impacted by a tropical cyclone.

"On average Australia sees 11 cyclones in its region in every season with four coastal crossings and we've never had a season on record without at least one cyclone crossing the coast,” Mr Browning said.

"So, while this season's outlook suggests the potential for a slightly lower than average number of cyclones, the chances of a community being affected by a tropical cyclone remain high.

"And as many communities in northern Australia unfortunately know, it only takes one cyclone to cause widespread damage.

"Even cyclones that don't reach the coast can still have a significant impact through heavy rainfall, storm surges and large waves.”

One of the key factors influencing the below-average outlook was neutral to weak El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

"During El Niño years the first cyclone to make landfall normally occurs around the second week of January, a few weeks later than normal.

"However, cyclone formation is rarely spread evenly throughout the season with quiet periods often followed by periods of higher activity.

"We've already seen an early season cyclone in the Fijian area of responsibility, the first recorded in September in their region.”

While cyclones are one of the key concerns during the coming months, there are also the threats of bushfires, heatwaves, thunderstorms and flooding rain.

Based on current and predicted future conditions there is an increased likelihood of bushfire activity and heat waves throughout parts of eastern and southern Australia, while the chances of widespread flooding events are less likely.

The risk of thunderstorm activity remains average.

"Australia's weather can change quickly and the best way to minimise the impacts is by being prepared,” Mr Browning said.

For more on the Bureau of Meteorology's 2018-19 cyclone outlook, visit /cyclones/australia/