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How to prepare for cyclone season



Cyclone season is upon us and the Bureau of Meteorology has released its outlook for the 2019/2020 season which runs from November to April.

Cyclones can wreak havoc for the maritime industry, so it’s essential to be prepared to ensure the safety of your commercial vessels.

On average, between 9 and 11 tropical cyclones form each season in the Australian region, 4 typically make landfall. This season the BOM estimates that across Australia as a whole, there is a 65% chance of fewer tropical cyclones than average, influenced by a combination of higher than normal air-pressure over northern Australia and neutral El Niño sea surface temperature conditions in the Pacific.

However, while there are fewer tropical cyclones expected in the Australian region and fewer crossing the coast, cyclones will still be forming offshore, leading to damaging winds, large and dangerous waves, and storm surges.

The BOM has reported that the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is affecting the Australian monsoonal trough this season, which in conjunction with a strong positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), is inhibiting the usual rainfall of the Northern Tropical Wet Season and so we can anticipate a later arrival of heavy rain.

As we all know, when it comes to the weather it’s safer to expect the unexpected, so it’s essential to maintain and keep up to date contingencies, such as your Cyclone Safety Management and Procedures Plan, to protect your vessels.

Learn how to prepare and respond appropriately to extreme weather events by consulting your region’s ‘Extreme Weather Event Contingency Plan’ to access communication frequencies, personnel contacts and port/marina information relevant to your location, available here.

You can reduce risks and operational disruptions by keeping your vessel/s and all its systems and equipment well maintained and fully functional. In addition, you can:

  • Ensure your vessel is in a water-tight, seaworthy state
  • Ensure your mooring arrangements are up to the job at hand
  • Reduce wind loadings, particularly when the vessel is unattended
  • Secure your tender and all of the hatches
  • Double up on mooring lines and check they are the correct size and in working condition
  • Check all bilge pumps (including automatic) work, all weatherproof storm covers are in good order where applicable, and that all self-draining holes are clear
  • Leave your contact details on the vessel for emergency services in case it goes adrift
  • Make sure your insurance policy is current

Even with modern technology, the intensity, size, and location of cyclones are difficult to predict exactly, so stay up to date with the forecast regularly here or by dialing your local Marine Warnings hotline.

Speak to your local broker today about how one of our specialist Marine Protect policies can cover you during this cyclone season.