Tropical Cyclones in the Northern Territory

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Introduction

Tropical cyclones pose a serious threat to Northern Territory communities and industry. Much of the Northern territory coastline being close to the equator, is in a region where cyclones tend to form. This can be an advantage as a cyclone forming near the coast will often cross the coast before it has a chance to substantially intensify. The drawback is that when a cyclone develops near the coast there will not be as much warning opportunity for communities in its path.

See also: Map of the Australia cyclone regions

Cyclone Season

Tropical cyclones in our region mostly form from lows within the monsoon trough, between November and April.

Climatology

Cyclone frequency

There are on average 7.7 days per season when a cyclone exists in the Northern Region. The northwestern Gulf of Carpentaria near Gove has the highest concentration of cyclone days. The Gulf of Carpentaria averages two cyclones a year, while the Arafura and Timor Seas average one a year. Cyclones in the Gulf of Carpentaria move very erratically, whereas those in the Arafura and Timor Seas tend to follow more regular tracks to the southwest. Over half the cyclones generated in the Northern Region move either southwest or southeast into adjoining regions.

Frequency by year

Image below: Graph of Northern region cyclone frequency per year from 1963 to 2006. Severe cyclones are shown in red.

Frequency by month

Graph below: Number of tropical cyclones in the Northern region, per month, from 1963 to 2006.

Frequency by severity

Of the 104 cyclones recorded in the Northern Region (including entire Gulf of Carpentaria) from 1963 to 2006, only 31 were severe (category 3, 4 or 5).

Graph of the number of cyclones by category from 1960 - 2007

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Northern region cyclone history

Selected reports

Tropical Cyclone Helen 01 - 07 January 2008
Tropical Cyclone Monica 17 - 27 April 2006
Tropical Cyclone Ingrid 6 - 17 March 2005
Tropical Cyclone Steve 27 Feb - 11 Mar 2000
Tropical Cyclone Thelma 6 -12 December 1998
Tropical Cyclone Tracy 20 - 25 December 1974

Cyclone tracks and details

Northern region cyclone tracks and details

Image below: Tropical cyclone tracks for cyclones that formed or moved through the Northern region from 1970 - 2004. (See also: Tropical cyclones since 1906: Search for cyclones by season and location.)