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NT braces for 'active' cyclone season

AAP logoAAP 10/10/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

The days of 'cyclone parties', where Territorians load up on booze and bunker down to wait out tropical storms are over, the head of NT emergency services says.

"This is serious business," NT Police, Emergency and Fire Services chief officer Andrew Warton said.

"When we say 'stock up', we mean... have you got sufficient supplies to survive by yourself if you have to? In a severe weather event it is highly likely that help may not arrive for anything up to 72 hours."

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts an average to above-average tropical cyclone season in the Top End this year, and for an earlier start.

In an average season, about 11 cyclones form in the Australian region between November and April. On average, four of these will make landfall.

Mr Warton is warning people not to get complacent, saying everybody needs to make an emergency plan, pack survival kits and clear their gardens.

"When there's objects in your backyard, they get picked up by wind, sometimes in excess of 150 or 160km/h," he said,

"They turn into missiles. They cause damage, and they can cause deaths."

Todd Smith, the bureau's regional director for the NT, says a return to a more active tropical cyclone season is being fuelled by neutral to weak La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean.

"Our ocean temperatures across northern Australia are well above average, in fact they've been record warm for some months now," he said.

Last year, the number of cyclones in Australia hit a record low with just three forming and one small cyclone crossing the coastline in WA.

It was even quieter in the Territory, with no cyclones in the Northern region for only the second time in the past decade.

Mr Smith warned the chances of that happening again are slim.

In an average year there are two to three cyclones in the Top End's waters, and at least one will usually make landfall.

Cyclone season typically begins around Christmas, but the BoM expects an earlier start this year following the early onset of the wet season.

"We had a record wet September for the Northern Territory," Mr Smith said.

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