Australians can expect an average, or slightly above average, cyclone season with an increased risk of widespread flooding over the east and north, according to the recently released Bureau of Meteorology's Severe Weather Outlook report.
The outlook, which also outlines the risk of severe thunderstorms, heatwaves and bushfires, is released in October every year and looks ahead to the end of April, when the high risk weather season in Australia officially ends.
Bureau Senior Climatologist Greg Browning said while severe weather could occur at any time of the year, we are now entering Australia's peak high risk weather season.
"Many climate drivers are indicating that it could be an active season across parts of Australia," Mr Browning said.
"Warm waters to the north of the continent, and the sea surface temperature patterns across the tropical Pacific and Indian oceans, are driving our outlook towards more rainfall for eastern and northern Australia.
"It is also likely that the first rains of the northern wet season will arrive earlier than normal for much of northern Australia.
"On average, Australia gets around 11 tropical cyclones in a season, of which four generally cross our coastline. With warmer than average seas around northern Australia this year, the number of tropical cyclones is likely to be close, or slightly above average."
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) will commence issuing its daily Tropical Cyclone Outlook from Monday as the wet season gathers momentum across the north of Australia and the cyclone season officially begins.
The increased likelihood of La Nina development in the tropical Pacific Ocean and average to warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures to the north of Australia have influenced this year's tropical cyclone outlook.
In La Nina years, the first cyclone to make landfall on the Australian coast typically occurs earlier than normal, around the middle of December. During average years, the date of the first tropical cyclone to make landfall over Australia is typically in early January.
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Paddy will be the name of first tropical cyclone to form in the Australian region in the 2021-22 season.
The next 11 cyclones that develop in Australia's area of responsibility have also already had their names chosen, and will be named from the following list - Ruby, Seth, Tiffany, Vernon, Anika, Billy, Charlotte, Darian, Ellie, Freddy and Gabrielle.
At least one tropical cyclone has crossed the Australian coast each season since reliable records began in the 1970s.
According to BOM, the northern wet season extends from about October to April in the far north of the NT, but generally starts later and ends earlier elsewhere.
Active monsoon periods may occur at any time during this period, however the initial monsoon onset normally occurs in late December around Darwin.
The region's last wet season was one of the wettest on record but it was a welcome relief for residents in Katherine who endured several dry years including the worst wet season in 58 years in 2019/20.
With an already wet landscape and above average rainfall likely, there is an increased risk of widespread flooding for eastern and northern Australia.
"This summer, with above average rain, more cloud and higher humidity, the number of individual extreme heat days are likely to be lower than we've seen in recent years," Mr Browning said..
"But the potential for bushfires and severe storms remains near average."
Australians could not afford to be complacent this severe weather season according to Mr Browning.
"Severe weather can disrupt and endanger lives in many ways, that is why the Bureau is asking the community to 'know your weather, know your risk'," he said.
"That means understanding the kinds of severe weather that can impact the area you live in and what you should do when it occurs."
Northern Territorians are being urged to prepare for the upcoming cyclone season, and to remember that even tropical lows and ex-tropical cyclones can deliver huge rainfalls, damaging wind gusts and flooding.
Prepare for the weather and flood hazards that occur every wet season and stay up to date with the Bureau's warnings.
"The release of the Severe Weather Outlook is also a timely reminder for all of us to follow the advice of local emergency services before, during and after severe weather," Mr Browning said.
"Another way Australians can keep themselves safe is by staying up-to-date with the latest forecast and warnings on the Bureau's website or by downloading the BOM Weather app."
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