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Reef Report for Friday, January 14, 2005

Tropical Cyclone Temporarily Disrupts Diving on the Northern Great Barrier Reef

Tropical cyclone Kerry, as of today is well off the coast of Australia, over 1,100 km west of the Great Barrier Reef. Current forecasts call for the storm to remain at cyclone strength for the next three days, and while the recent path of the storm for initially was towards the Australian coast, the storm then took a sharp right turn to the south, and is now hundreds of kilometers South of the Cairns. © MetSat The paths of cyclones are unpredicible, think of all the twists and turns a spinning top can take and you have a good idea how difficult it is to predict the pathways of these storms.

This storm has effected diving on the reef, mostly due to the winds that spiral out from the storm. While not hazardous on the reef, they can make the trip out and back to the reef uncomfortable, and can reduce underwater visibility. Some dive operators have cancelled their trips between the 10th and 14th of January in response. As of this update dive operations in Cairns are back to normal.

Cyclones are something to consider when traveling in the tropics anywhere in the world. Most tropical areas have a cyclone season, a time of the year when the chance of these storms is higher.

In Australia this season is December through March. Historically, an average of four cyclones form in the Coral Sea west of Queensland. They travel in all sorts of directions, even changing directions, and many do not ever cross the Australian coast. Over the past fifteen years this frequency has been less, in fact there has been only one cyclone has crossed the lengthily Eastern Australian coastline.

So what about planning to travel to Queensland during this time of the year? The reef is still here, the water is really comfortable and warm, and the diving is great, except during and the days after a cyclone. We recommend that you enjoy the reef, but keep in mind there is some small chance that your diving might be canceled or disrupted by a storm. Read the cancellation policies for any trips you book, and protect your investment by taking out a travelerís insurance policy that will reimburse you should your trip be cancelled by weather.

There is some good news about such storms. They come during the warmest time of the year, and the winds mix warm surface waters with cooler, deeper waters, and can help protect corals from coral bleaching.

More Information:

More information on cyclones in Australia.

This seasonís cyclone predictions.

Current cyclone warnings.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

Index of all reef reports.

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