Tropical cyclones threaten northern Australia every year. Recent Australian flooding and cyclonic events can be largely explained by a strong La Niña. However, sea surface temperatures off the northern Australian coast in recent months have been at or near record levels. The extremely high sea surface temperatures are part of a significant warming of the oceans that has been observed in the past 50 years. These pages provide some information about the causes, occurrence and impacts of tropical cyclones.

Recent Australian flooding and cyclonic events can be largely explained by a strong La Niña. However, sea surface temperatures off the northern Australian coast in recent months have been at or near record levels. The extremely high sea surface temperatures are part of a significant warming of the oceans that has been observed in the past 50 years.

Cyclone season in Australia is between November and April, but cyclones can still occur as late as May.

The Bureau of Meteorology advises that the Australian region (90–160° E) has, on average, 13 cyclones a year. Half of these occur in the Indian Ocean, off Western Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology provides cyclone forecasts and warnings.

Tropical cyclones can cause damage to anyone and anything caught in their path.

CSIRO scientists are interested in modelling future cyclone frequency and intensity, as well as the natural role they play in shaping our environment.

Frequently asked questions

  • How does La Niña affect tropical cyclones?
  • Have observed tropical cyclone patterns and other extreme weather events changed?
  • What is the impact of combined increases in sea-level rise, severe storms and coastal population?

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