Weather experts tip above-average cyclone season in Far North Queensland
FAR North Queenslanders can expect an above average number of cyclones this summer, but there are not likely to be any cyclone Yasi-sized storms.
The weather bureau has briefed the State Government on what to expect this coming wet season, with signs pointing to an above average number of cyclones and rainfall.
The bureau’s climate services manager Dr Jeff Sabburg said a La Nina weather system was forming, which also occurred last year.
"In any La Nina year we can expect more tropical cyclones than non-La Nina years,’’ Dr Sabburg said.
However, indications were the system would be much weaker when comparing the data with the same time last year, he said.
As early as June last year the bureau had already predicted the La Nina event would form and produce heavy rainfall and more cyclones.
The system was blamed for cyclone Yasi, the category 5 storm which smashed into the Far North coastline on February 3, and the destructive floods which blanketed 70 per cent of Queensland in January.
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New evacuation centres are planned at Edmonton, Tully, Port Douglas and Weipa but construction on the centres is not likely to be completed before the start of the wet season.
There are also lingering concerns about the positioning of Cairns Base Hospital on the city’s waterfront, where 330 patients were evacuated from prior to Yasi.
Premier Anna Bligh said the Government would continue to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
An update on what has been achieved preparing for the coming wet season will be released in early
"Already Queensland is better prepared than ever before," Ms Bligh said yesterday.
"We are ready for whatever Mother Nature will throw at us."
The bureau’s cyclone outlook follows the release of a new report on Australia’s tropical storm activity during the 2011/2012 season by British researchers from the respected University College London.
Dr Adam Lea and Professor Mark Saunders, who operate website TropicalStormRisk.com, have predicted the season will see storm activity about 10 per cent above the average climate norm.
The forecast spans the Australian season from November 1 through to April 30, 2012.
It is based on tropical sea-surface temperatures, which are linked to vertical wind shear over Australia during summer.
The researchers last year predicted the 2010/11 Australian tropical cyclone season would be 40 per cent above normal, the most active since 1998.
The website has received two major awards from Britain’s insurance industry.
Meanwhile, researchers from James Cook University’s Cyclone Testing Station are preparing a public presentation in Townsville next Wednesday of their findings from cyclone Yasi.
They found modified houses built after the 1980s and contemporary houses sustained little damage in the monster storm which devastated the area between Mission Beach and Cardwell on the Cassowary Coast.
Station manager Cam Leitch said in view of this finding, residents should have their homes checked for cyclone-proofing prior to the start of the season.
"We get our cars serviced every 10,000km, we should be getting our houses checked out every 10 years," Mr Leitch said.
"You have to make sure they’re up to scratch, especially older homes.
"That sort of thing should be done before the start of the cyclone season, just to check that there’s no corrosion or dry rot or trees that need to be trimmed."
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Warning: An above average number of cyclones are predicted this summer, but storms the size of cyclone Yasi are unlikely. Pic taken by Japan Meteorological Agency