Current Weather Events:
Storms and Supercells:
For Thursday storms will be strongest in Sunshine coast to central Queensland and Capricornia Coast but may linger in Brisbane region as well.
More details see Wet Weather Event Saturday October 13 - All you need to know
Short term weather trends 2018-2019 Season
El Niño alert declared by Bureau of Meteorology
The Bureau of Meteorology has just upped the chance of an El Nino this year, meaning there is now three times the normal risk of the climate driver associated with hot and dry conditions happening this year.
Senior climatologist Robyn Duell said it had been a slow boil.
"We've been hovering at an El Nino watch for a long time going 'Will it? Won't it?'" she said.
But Ms Duell said in the past three weeks staff had seen a little bit of a kick in the eastern Pacific Ocean temperatures, which was finally showing up in the winds.
"We've seen a response in the atmosphere. That's why we've raised our alert up from a watch to an alert," she said.
An El Nino is the phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) where the trade winds over the Pacific are weakened and even reversed, reducing the moisture avaliable on the east coast of Australia.
"Any given year there is a risk because El Nino is a normal part of our climate system. We get an El Nino on average every two to five years," Ms Duell said.
"That puts the risk at any given year at about a 25 per cent chance. At the moment we're looking at around a 70 per cent chance.
Potential for dry start to northern wet season
Widespread drought has been biting this year, especially in New South Wales.
"The dry conditions are very severe in large parts of eastern Australia and it's been quite devastating, the impacts for a lot of people," Ms Duell said.
She said an El Nino at this time of year would typically lead to a poor end to the southern wet season as well as a dry start to the northern wet season.
"Unfortunately the outlook does suggest for many that it's likely to be a dry end to the year."
Ms Duell said it had also been an unusually warm year — the warmest January to September on record for NSW and the Murray-Darling Basin.
The hot conditions intensify droughts as well as working together to increase the risks of heatwaves and bushfires.
But El Nino does not have a complete sweep on the disaster stakes — there is a relationship between El Nino and reduced numbers of cyclones, but people should not be complacent.
"Despite there being a reduced chance of tropical cyclone activity, this baseline risk that we always have every year still remains to communities in the north," Ms Duell said.
There has been at least one cyclone in Australian waters every year since records began, and it only takes one to be devastating.
Ms Duell said there was cool water to the north-east of Australia that indicated the country could currently be in the positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) climate driver.
The IOD drives circulations across the Indian Ocean in much the same way as the ENSO does over the Pacific.
The positive IOD is the phase associated with dry conditions in Australia.
Ms Duell said El Nino and positive IOD events often worked together, occurring at the same time and often reinforcing each other.
December could see increased storm activity for mid central Queensland, Atherton Tablelands and the Whitsundays region in December.
January 2019 could see very widespread storm activity.
February is likely to be fairly dry, March and April could be fairly normal.
During the whole period above the Coastal regions and the Coral sea is set to be fairly dry nulling any potential for cyclones. Over all it is predicted to be below average rainfall.
For August 20-27 towards the weekend a trough system will influence South East Queensland and Northern NSW, with thunderstorm activity and with it rains of between 50 and 100 mm possible so for Brisbane 13-37-84 mm and for Sunshine coast 8-35-79mm based on low-average- high models
The North - East coast of the NT – computer models show the Gove/Nhulunbuy region receiving up to 100mm below their average over the next three months.
Bureau Of Meteorology Cyclone Outlook
Cyclone Liua formed near the Solomon Islands on September 27 and was downgraded just before entering Australian waters.
This was remarkable because the South Pacific's cyclone season, like ours, is nominally from November to April — that is a whole month-and-a-half early!
So is Liua and its early arrival a sign of things to come?
The outlook doesn't suggest so. A likely El Nino this year means the weather bureau is saying the chance of more tropical cyclones than normal is small.
"Indications are for a lower-than-average number of tropical cyclones, and we are less likely to have widespread flooding," said Bruce Gunn, the state manager of BOM Queensland.
But that doesn't mean we can be complacent.
"We are heading into what should be a warmer and dryer season ahead, which means a longer bushfire season, that's already upon us, an increased chance of heatwaves, continuing drought, unfortunately, and also an increased chance of coral bleaching," Mr Gunn said.
Australia has never had a season without at least one cyclone crossing the coast.
Mr Gunn reminded us that any cyclone that formed in the Coral Sea had a one-in-four chance of crossing the coast.
"It only takes one tropical cyclone to make a season, just like we saw with Tropical Cyclone Debbie."
What is a normal year?
According to the Bureau of Meteorology's website, the long-term average number of cyclones per season in the Australian region since 1969-70 is 11, with an average of four making landfall. But since 2000 there has only been an average of nine cyclones each season.
It is projected that in the future there will be fewer but more high-severity cyclones around the world due to human-induced climate change.
The cyclone season outlook is dependent upon the Southern Oscillation Index and Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures, both of which are also measures of the El Nino Southern Oscillation.
This is because cyclone occurrences and El Nino are linked.
Typically in El Nino years, like this one is tipped to be, there are less cyclones than average because of cooler-than-average western Pacific Ocean temperature and descending stable air over Australia.
La Nina years tend to bring more cyclones.
Cyclones typically impact the coastal regions of northern Australia, but as Cyclone Debbie demonstrated in 2017, when flooding impacted from northern Queensland into New South Wales, their effects can be felt much further south.
It is expected that cyclones will travel further away from the equator as the climate warms.
|Region||Long-term* average number of cyclones||Chance of more cyclones this season|
*Long-term average number of tropical cyclones, using data from the 1969-70 season to this (2018) season. Eastern is the Qld east coast, Northern covers the western Gulf coast and the NT, Western the WA coast and the Northwestern sub-region the sub section of WA, north of Carnarvon.
What should I do to prepare my home?
Dr David Henderson, the chief engineer at James Cook University's cyclone testing station, said this time of year, before the start of cyclone season, was a great time to see if there's any maintenance to do around the home.
"Our houses are actually big machines, we just hope they don't go anywhere. So, all the components in there have to do their job."
As people in cyclone regions shelter in their homes, Dr Henderson said it was great to get someone to help do an inspection every few years to make sure all those parts weren't rotted, rusted or corroded and that they're all doing their job.
"Our roofing needs to be attached to our battens, our battens to our rafters, and roof frame to our walls all the way down to ground level — like wrist bone down to elbow bone all the way down, to keep those forces to tie our houses down to the ground."
It was also important to ensure all upgrades to buildings were done effectively, especially when re-roofing pre-1980s houses, Dr Henderson said.
But even the best preparation can only go so far.
"For a lot of us in the cyclone regions, during the cyclone season there is a lot of rain entering into our house or buildings or workplaces," Dr Henderson said.
It could be damage that is allowing the water in or it could be just coming in anyway.
Dr Henderson said water could come through our normal doors and windows because the wind pressure pushing on the wall created a negative pressure inside the building.
"It's drawing that water and rain into our living spaces where we're sheltering. Our design standards, although these windows for modern houses meet the standards, they're not really there for our cyclone regions.
"We've got to do more to try to keep that water out."
Dr Henderson said when warnings went out as a cyclone approached, once people had cleaned up their yards and secured any loose items, they might want to put a cross or checkerboard pattern of masking tape on the inside of windows.
"If the window gets broken, it may help us in cleaning up the broken glass," he said.
"It doesn't make the window stronger. We still can't shelter behind it.
"We've got to follow the emergency services guidelines by sheltering in the smallest, strongest part of our house with mattresses around us, not standing behind bits of windows that could get broken at anytime."
So the masking tape may not be much help in preventing damage, but Dr Henderson has a trick to help keep the water out of your home.
"If we've got like, say, a garbage bag, we split it in half, we tape it along the bottom of the sill, tape it up the side, only about a foot or 300 millimetres up.
"That's like increasing the height of the sill of that window, or sliding door, and that's really stopping a lot of this wind-driven rain coming through the sliding windows."
His testing has found it to be very effective in stopping the water from coming in and prevented a lot of damage happening to the inside of the house.
No matter the outlook, there is still a chance of devastating cyclones this season so it pays to be prepared.
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Handy Links & Moreton Bay Regional Council Advisories
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If Its Flooded - Forget it !!
In the event of heavy rain falling, police are urging motorists to drive to conditions and heed the message: if it’s flooded, forget it.
Under severe storms or heavy rain bands, flash flooding can occur very quickly and without any notice – even on roads that you usually travel on without any issues.
Flash flooding can cause significant structural damage to roads, so even if you think it looks safe, you can never be sure exactly what is underneath the water.
No matter what car you drive, no matter what bike you ride, no matter what shoes you wear – if it’s flooded, forget it.