PHOTO: The Gates of Wivenhoe recently opened for the first time in 10 years
Premier Anna Bligh has today directed all State Government agencies to be on alert and prepared over summer after a senior meteorologist briefed Cabinet about one of the most potentially busy storm seasons since the 1970s.
Ms Bligh said all departments that would need to jump into action should any area experience a cyclone or flooding – including Emergency Services, Main Roads, Local Government, Transport and Public Works – would be ready to work together to respond to storm or flood damage. Bureau of Meteorology Regional Director Jim Davidson today told Cabinet Ministers that Queensland could experience up to six cyclones over summer and well above average rainfalls.
The Premier said the prediction meant all Queenslanders should be prepared for not only cyclonic conditions but potential flooding. “That includes government departments and tomorrow annual pre-season meetings start in such areas as Innisfail and Charters Towers, including representatives of key government agencies,” Ms Bligh said. “The last thing we want to do is create panic but with these type of predictions, forewarned is forearmed. “That’s why today I’ve directed all Ministers to work with Directors General to ensure suitably senior staff are on duty and available throughout the summer storm season.
“That means taking an active role in rostering for senior staff over the Christmas and New Year period and through the school holidays, both centrally and at a regional level. “Preparation is the key to safety and it’s imperative that we are all on the same page not only to respond in the event of a disaster but to get accurate and timely warnings out to any community under potential threat of cyclone or flood.
“Jim has told us today that we have not seen predictions for up to six cyclones off our coast since the 1970s and also that there is a 75 per cent chance that we will experience much higher than average rainfall and we are actively heeding those warnings.” Mr Davidson said the prediction came because the state was in a La Nina climate phase – which he expects will remain the dominating influence through the spring and summer months – and which are usually associated with above normal rainfall across much of Queensland and enhanced tropical cyclone activity in the Coral Sea.
Mr Davidson said: “What this translates to is where historically we could expect an average of four cyclones a season in the Coral Sea, we now expect the number to be potentially higher, but the number of cyclones actually making landfall can be quite variable from season to season. “However, under these conditions, we have a good chance of a cyclone crossing the coast before the year is out.”
In addition to the Bureau’s website at http://www.bom.gov.au/, the latest information on Tropical Cyclones is readily available by dialling 1300 659 212, and on Flood Warnings by dialling 1300 659 219.