Heightened risk from cyclones, fires and floods for Queensland this summer, weather bureau warns

By Rachel McGhee
Palm trees bend in a the wind during a storm. ( Supplied)

Queensland is facing an increased risk from a trifecta of natural disasters this summer, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

There is a heightened risk of cyclones, bushfires and flooding for Queenslanders and residents are being told to get ready.

The BOM said an average to slightly-above-average number of tropical cyclones are expected to form in the Australian region this season.

The season, which runs from November through to April, usually results in around 11 cyclones impacting Australian waters, with about four crossing the coast.

BOM senior meteorologist Laura Boekel said the season usually peaks in February, but that Queenslanders should be preparing now.

"From November our tropical cyclone season starts — that runs from November through to April and we typically see the peak of that in February," she said.

"The outlook this year is that we could see more tropical cyclones than we usually see in a typical year.

"The details of location, intensity and timing, that's the information that we don't have. 

"We get that closer to the event but I guess that just really enhances that message around getting ready and making sure you're prepared no matter where you're located.

"It just takes one severe weather event to be life threatening and that's why we're urging Queenslanders to get ready." 

BOM data shows at least one tropical cyclone a year has crossed the coast since records began in the 1970s.

'Considerable' flood risk

This year's outlook is influenced by double the normal risk of a La Niña forming, warmer than average ocean temperatures to the north of Australia and a negative Indian Ocean Dipole.

Ms Boekel said there is also a "considerable" risk of flooding this season.

"We're seeing different conditions this year where flooding may peak earlier and may be more prolonged," she said.

"A lot of catchments in the south and south-east [are] already wet, wetter than what we would see this time of year, so that means they may respond to rainfall a lot quicker."

Southern and central Queensland areas with low rainfall face a higher bushfire risk. (Supplied: Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.)

Risk of bushfires in southern and central regions

Low rainfall has heightened the bushfire risk in the Wide Bay and Capricornia regions.

"That's enhanced bushfire risk this season due to the dry nature of the forest up there," Ms Boekel said.

"In the south and south-east, we're also seeing grass growth due to that rainfall so that area is also at risk of bushfires this season.

"We're asking all Queenslanders to know your weather, know your risk and get ready today."

The severe weather outlook was launched today and conjunction with "Get Ready Queensland Week".

Rosalie and nearby Milton State School were severely hit by Brisbane's 2011 floods. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan said today's launch at Milton State School, which was severely damaged in the 2011 floods, was a reminder of the extreme weather Queenslanders need to prepare for.

"We also know a lot of people have moved to Queensland from interstate this year and we welcome these new residents to our great state with open arms, but we also want them to be aware that in Queensland, disaster can strike anywhere and at any time," Mr Ryan said.

"Research shows 57 per cent of Queenslanders have an emergency plan, which is up from around 18 per cent eight years ago but there is plenty of room for improvement.

"Just last season alone, Queensland was hit by 11 natural disaster events across 50 local government areas including a hailstorm, bushfires, floods and cyclones.

"Unfortunately, it's not a matter of if but when severe weather strikes somewhere in Queensland and that's exactly why we all need to be prepared.

Johnathan Thurston says he wants Queenslanders to be ready for what's coming. (ABC News: Alice Pavlovic)

"Get Ready Queensland Week is about raising awareness to start preparing your families, pets, households and even your neighbours for severe weather and the Get Ready Queensland website has all the information to guide you."

Rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston is the Get Ready Queensland ambassador and urged residents to take three simple steps.

"I've seen it a couple of years ago with the floods in Townsville many of our community were battered from those floods.

"It doesn't matter if you're in Townsville or the south-east, it can be bushfires it can be floods … as a proud Queenslander I'll make sure Queenslanders are ready for when disaster strikes."


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