Australian Weather Hazards - Know The Best Time To Travel
Australian weather conditions aren't always nice and can be dangerous at times. The main weather hazards you need to know about if you plan to visit Australia are severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, floods, and bushfires.
Thankfully, these severe weather events are generally confined to a particular location and normally occur around same time each year. That's great for you since you can match your arrival so as to avoid these severe weather events. However, that's not always possible since some of these severe Australian weather events may overlap so you'll have to weigh up if you want to risk travelling to that location.
I've written a lot of information below on each of these Australian weather hazards, so I hope that this helps to answer some of your questions relating to these severe Australian weather conditions.
A tropical cyclone is a rotating intense low pressure system that forms over warm tropical oceans worldwide. The term tropical cyclone is known by other names in different countries. In Asian waters they are known as typhoons but around America, tropical cyclones are called hurricanes.
Tropical cyclones can only form when the ocean temperature is above 26°C (79°F). In addition, a tropical cyclone can't normally form and travel near the equator.
Most tropical cyclones last between 7-10 days and can cause mass devastation to a populated area as a result of the flooding and gale force winds.
That's now becoming of concern in Australia since larger numbers of people are moving into the cyclone-prone regions and building in areas that have previously been hit by cyclones.
Whatever you do please don't underestimate the ferocity of the cyclonic Australian weather systems as they can easily ruin your holiday.
When does the tropical season start and finish?
The official tropical cyclone season in Australia occurs from November-April. The majority of tropical cyclones form after December since the ocean temperatures have risen sufficiently to aid their formation. Remember I mentioned earlier that tropical cyclones need sea surface temperatures above 26°C in order to develop.
Once they've formed they normally move slowly towards the southwest. However, they can in wander in any direction depending on the which way the wind blows at high altitude.
On average, the Queensland coast gets hit by 4-5 tropical cyclones during the cyclone season whereas the Northern Territory is only threatened twice a year.
The Western Australia coastline between Broome and Exmouth is the most likely region in all of northern Australia to be hit by a severe tropical cyclone. Winds in excess of 240km/hr (150 mile/hr) are quite common.
In the last few years, there have been only a small number of cyclones affecting the northern coastline of Australia but they are becoming more severe.
Last year (2007), Western Australia was the only state that was affected by tropical cyclones. The year before that in 2006, four tropical cyclones formed and two again hit Western Australia and the other two formed off the coast of Queensland. One of these decided to take a trip across the top end of Australia before it weakened along the coast of the Northern Territory.
Tropical cyclones are a dominant feature of northern Australian weather. Farmers in inland regions of northern Australia rely on the extensive rain produced by a tropical cyclone since it amounts to between 30-50% of the total annual rainfall.
Whatever you do, just beware of the fact that many inland parts of northern Australia are also likely to be also impacted by a cyclone. The main damage occurs in the form of flash flooding and this quickly isolates a small town in a day. This has happened many times. When this occurs most of the locals become stranded on an island so to speak.
If the flood waters are particularly high, it may be a couple of weeks before the flood waters fall and people are actually able to get out of the town. You don't want to be trapped in a small town while you're holidaying in Australia!
When the cyclone approaches the coast, the sea-level automatically begins to rise in response to the lower atmospheric pressure. If you're staying on the coast, I would advise that you evacuate the area since it's likely that the coastline will be under water since the ocean now begins to claim that area.
If you're visiting northern Australia and are told that a tropical cyclone warning has been issued, then you clearly have to take preventative steps to protect yourself and your family.
The Bureau of Meteorology provides critical updates about tropical cyclones as well as other severe weather events that are currently affecting Australia.
Large bushfires occur due hot Australian weather conditionsBushfires are even more unpredictable than tropical cyclones since there's always a fire burning out of control somewhere in Australia.
I'm not trying to cause you alarm but you can be sure that you and your family won't be hurt if you understand the points given below:
If you're in a remote location make sure that you've told someone of your whereabouts so they can find you.
It is critical that if you are travelling into the forests of southern Australia during the summer months then make sure that you have access to a number of roads to get out of the area if a fire does approach your location.
Don't wait until the smoke becomes thick or it may be too late.
Here's some good pointers for you to know:
Most of these bushfires occur more frequently when the Australian weather has been hot and dry and the rainfall has been low over an extended period of time. Consequently, the vegetation is most vulnerable after long spells of dry weather as the leaves and the woody undergrowth become devoid of moisture and this can feed a fire when it does occur.
Also, if the region has had previous light rain and this has produced abundant short-lived quick growing vegetation then this will tend to provide more fuel for the fire especially if the area has dried out rapidly since the rain event.
Beware of severe Australian weather - thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes
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