Tropical Cyclones in the Northern Territory

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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.


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

Graph below: Northern region cyclone frequency per year from 1964 to 2015. Severe cyclones are shown in red.

Frequency by month

Graph below: Number of tropical cyclones in the Northern region, by month and including category, from 1964 to 2015.

Graph below: Cyclones per month in Northern Region and Gulf of Carpentaria, from 1964 to 2015.

Graph below: Cyclones per month in Timor Sea, from 1964 to 2015.

Graph below: Cyclones per month in Arafura Sea, from 1964 to 2015.

Graph below: Cyclones per month in Gulf of Carpentaria, from 1964 to 2015.

Frequency by severity

Of the 125 cyclones recorded in the Northern Region (including entire Gulf of Carpentaria) from 1964 to 2015, only 32 were severe (category 3, 4 or 5).

Graph of the number of cyclones by category from 1964 - 2015


Northern region cyclone history

Selected reports

Tropical Cyclone Grant 25 - 26 December 2011
Tropical Cyclone Carlos 16 - 17 February 2011
Tropical Cyclone Paul 28 - 30 March 2010
Tropical Cyclone Helen 01 - 07 January 2008
Tropical Cyclone Monica 17 - 27 April 2006
Tropical Cyclone Ingrid 6 - 17 March 2005
Tropical Cyclone Thelma 6 -12 December 1998
Tropical Cyclone Tracy 20 - 25 December 1974