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Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory

6 Cyclone Tracy, 1974

The cyclone season in the Northern Territory extends from November to April. In that time an average of 13 cyclones may form in the Australian region. Many cause little damage and, when they pass over land, gradually degenerate into rain depressions.

The Bureau of Meteorology maintains tropical warning centres in Darwin, Brisbane and Perth. These centres monitor the development of cyclones and issue warnings as appropriate (usually a 'cyclone watch' or, in more immediate circumstances, a 'cyclone warning').

The naming of cyclones in Australia began in 1964, and for the first 12 years only female names were used. After Cyclone Tracy it was decided to alternate between male and female names.

Since 1956 the Bureau has created a case history for each cyclone containing material such as rainfall, wind and pressure readings, damage reports, press clippings, satellite photographs and copies of warnings issued. In researching a book on Northern Territory cyclones, Bureau of Meteorology staff member Kevin Murphy collected an array of secondary sources, some of which date from as early as 1839.1 These are now held by the National Archives in Darwin.

Select records relating to the monitoring of cyclones
National Archives, Darwin
Bureau of Meteorology – case histories for tropical cyclones (includes notes used for K Murphy Big Blow Up North), 1956–ongoing E490


Chapter notes | All notes

1 Published in 1984 under the title Big Blow Up North.


Chapter 6
Cyclone Tracy, 1974