Joint media release: Brisbane’s front line role in cyclone season

16 December 2020

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Trevor Evans MP, Member for Brisbane


Brisbane will be at the eye of the storm this summer as the Bureau of Meteorology’s lead cyclone management centre for northern Australia, in a season where tropical storms could pose a major threat to communities.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley visited the Bureau of Meteorology's National Cyclone Warning Centre in Brisbane which will monitor storm activity across Australia’s north with a 24-hour watch maintained on developing tropical weather systems, from the moment a cyclone becomes imminent.

The Brisbane warning centre will provide vital and potentially life-saving information to the Australian community, industry and government during the cyclone season which runs from 1 November to 30 April. 

It will work in collaboration with the Bureau’s Perth Cyclone Warning Centre, which will lead cyclone and storm management across other parts of the continent, with the two centres both able to share responsibilities as needed.

“Fraser Island is a reminder that bushfires are still a risk, but the advice from the Bureau is that, fuelled by a strong La Niña event, tropical cyclones could present the greatest danger this summer,” Minister Ley said.

“They can have a devastating impact, particularly if they make landfall in a heavily populated region or an area vulnerable to storm surge and flooding.

“Even those that don't cross the coast can still cause damage, bringing severe winds and rain, increasing the chances of flooding.

“The Bureau's response to cyclones is multi-faceted with experts such as meteorologists and hydrologists working closely with governments, industry and emergency services partner in cyclone regions to help local residents and businesses be as prepared as possible.

“I encourage members of the community to know their weather and know their risk, checking forecasts and warnings via the Bureau's website, the BOM Weather app and social media.”

Member for Brisbane Trevor Evans said that it was essential that people took the issue seriously and heeded the Bureau’s advice.

“Prepare your home and check your cyclone plan and emergency kit, familiarise yourself with some of the facts behind tropical cyclones through the Bureau of Meteorology's website, stay tuned to your local emergency services broadcaster, and ensure you have a battery-powered radio,” Mr Evans said.

The Bureau's Manager Hazard Preparedness and Response, Laura Boekel, said cyclones can follow erratic paths and small variations in the state of the atmosphere and the surface temperature of the ocean can result in large changes to the track or intensity of the cyclone.

“The Bureau's team of dedicated cyclone meteorologists use state-of-the-art technology and modelling capabilities to closely monitor atmospheric factors which guide the speed and direction of the cyclone's movement,” Ms Boekel said.

“A climate driver called the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) – a pulse of cloud and rain which moves eastward near the Equator – can increase the likelihood of cyclones and tropical lows when it moves into our region.  

“We are closely tracking the MJO, which is currently near Indonesia. When the MJO is within our region, northern Australia traditionally experiences increased rainfall and cyclone and monsoon activity.”

More information about cyclones can be found at the Bureau's Knowledge Centre at www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/tropical-cyclone-knowledge-centre/