Climate Watch Dave McRae 9dated 16th March 05)
Cyclone Ingrid has brought welcome rain (and some not welcome damage) to parts of north Queensland over the last fortnight. Many producers though have been disappointed that it has headed in a westerly direction instead of further south into inland Queensland.
However this fits in with the synoptic and sea surface temperature patterns associated with the borderline El Niño event that has been present over the last 6 to 9 months in the Pacific Ocean. Research shows that cyclone activity tends to either move away from the eastern Australian coast into the central Pacific or cross the coast over Western Australia and the NT during El Niño (or borderline El Niño) events.
It will be interesting to see what Ingrid does over the next few weeks as cyclones in our region can last for a few days or up to two to three weeks with changes in any direction possible including sharp turns and even loops.
At the start of the cyclone season last year the Bureau of Meteorology www.bom.gov.au http://www.bom.gov.au> stated that based on the best available information the lengthy run of relatively quiet cyclone seasons was likely to continue for Queensland with the number of tropical cyclones in the Coral Sea this season having only an outside chance of exceeding 2 or 3, and not all will cross the coast.
In a reflection of the lack of cyclone activity the Bureau also stated that the last 15 years have been relatively quiet in terms of both cyclone activity in the Coral Sea and the incidence of significant cyclone impacts along the Queensland coast with the past 3 cyclone seasons being particularly unusual in that only 1 cyclone has crossed the east Queensland coast ("Fritz" a low Category 1 in the far north last February).
For more information on cyclones try the Queensland Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre at www.bom.gov.au/weather/qld/cyclone http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/qld/cyclone>
As of the 16th March the 30-day average of the SOI has risen to minus 19.7. While the SOI has remained in negative at least it has started to head in the right direction.