Weather Blog: Mark Australia Day with a crash course in Australian weather

Earlier today on NBC2 News at 3pm, our team marked Australia Day with a wild weather overview in the “land underfoot”. Australia is a large country whose weather is as varied in many respects as the United States. But Australia’s position south of the equator means that from the perspective of a Floridian line, the weather can sometimes look like it’s moving in reverse or upside down!


In the United States, most weather systems like those we see in winter are typically oriented with an area of ​​low atmospheric pressure with a cold front extending south and southwest from the low. In Australia it is the opposite, as low pressure areas often have their associated cold fronts extending north and northeast away from the centre.

The map below from Australian Bureau of Meteorology (Aussie is equivalent to the national weather service in the US). The black “L” represents the region of lowest pressure, the cold front map shows the extent of the boundary away from it. Very different from what you see in the weather news on TV in Florida!


In areas north of the equator such as in Florida, winds blow around areas of low pressure (also known as storm systems) counterclockwise while high pressure areas ( usually indicates calm weather) rotates clockwise. In regions south of the equator, the opposite is true. The low-pressure storm systems here rotate clockwise while on the other hand, the high-pressure areas encourage winds to move in an anti-clockwise direction.

The reason for the reversal of wind direction between the northern and southern hemispheres is due to the rotation of the Earth. It’s called the Coriolis Effect, and it’s why hurricanes move north and northwest away from the equator in the northern half of the Earth and south off the equator in the northern half. south of the Earth. You can read more about what makes the Coriolis Effect so important here.


Because Australia is south of the equator, their seasons are variable compared to what we experience elsewhere in the world. While we lean away from the Sun in January in the middle of our winter, Australia leans towards the Sun. This means January is summer there, delivering the hottest temperatures of the year. It also means the height of the tropical season now, not in August and September like in Florida during our summer and fall.

Australia is no stranger to tropical cyclones (in the US we call them hurricanes). Each season, which runs from November 1 to April, has an average of 6 to 10 systems forming near or impacting the continent.

It’s important to point out that unlike in the US, where the southeastern and eastern parts of the country are most affected by tropical weather, Australia’s most prone to tropical cyclones are along its northern coast, especially in northwestern Australia. The reason for this is because of the Coriolis Effect that we described earlier in this article. As tropical systems form and move away from the equator in the southern hemisphere, it requires them to split south and southwest, which means you’re more likely to be hit by hurricanes in remote places. than north in Australia.

The image below from the Australian government shows the plot of all tropical cyclones that formed near Australia between 1970 and 2006. Notice the huge difference between north and south!

You can watch a video of the Australian tropical cyclone forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology here.


While no country on Earth has seen more tornadoes than the US, Australia gets their fair share, However, it should be noted that much of Australia is fairly sparsely populated, as major coastal cities are home to more Australians. But estimates put annual tornado tally at more than 100 per year.

A particularly strong tornado hit Queensland in late 2021. You can watch local news and watch video of the tornado here.

https://nbc-2.com/weather/weather-blog/2022/01/26/weather-blog-mark-australia-day-with-a-crash-course-in-aussie-weather/ Weather Blog: Mark Australia Day with a crash course in Australian weather

Tom Vazquez

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