WHERE have all the cyclones gone?
If you were one of the millions of Australians who sweltered through the relentless heat of the season dubbed the “angry summer” by climatologists, you would be forgiven for not noticing the tropics have been unusually quiet this year.
More than 200 weather records tumbled across Australia this summer, according to the Climate Council, and, just six days into autumn, Cyclone Blanche brought with her yet another, when she became the first of the season to make landfall
Blanche crossed the northern coast of Western Australia as a category two storm on March 6, the latest the season’s first cyclone has made landfall in Australian history, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
It was just the third tropical low that has formed into a cyclone this season, which began on November 1, well down on the long-term season average of 11.
It is the second consecutive year Australia’s cyclone count has been chronically low.
Last year, there were just three for the entire season, itself a record for the quietest cyclone count in the country’s history.
That, however, did not particularly surprise scientists at the bureau.
They had tipped before the season began that numbers would be low, due to the ongoing effects of an El Nino weather pattern that brings dry air, which is not conducive to the formation of a high-energy cyclone.
This year, on the other hand, the low numbers have blindsided them.
Dr Andrew Watkins the manager of climate prediction services at the bureau, said scientists are, at present, trying to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
He said it has also attracted intrigue from international meteorologists, with visitors from the United States and the United Kingdom travelling to Australia to try to work out just what is going on.