Australia's annual monsoon season typically lasts from around November to April and is part of the usual evolution of the seasons, especially in northern Australia. In short, expect heavy rainfall during those months.

To keep everyone in the loop about what a monsoon is and how to prepare for monsoon season, we're going to take a deep dive into the topic and what you can do to stay safe when the rains come.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What is a monsoon?

A monsoon is defined as any seasonal wind reversal that occurs over tropical climates. In northern Australia, the prevailing wind is from the east or southeast for most of the year, but during active monsoon periods (which occur any time between November to April) the winds shift to become northwesterly at the surface.

As the Australian summer heats up, low pressure is created, which effectively draws the monsoon trough. The trough draws in moist air from the surrounding oceans and this influx of moist air is the monsoon.

The monsoon can either be in an active or inactive phase:

  • Active - Broad areas of cloud and rain, with sustained moderate to fresh northwesterly winds on the north side of the trough. Widespread heavy rainfall can result if the trough is close to, or over land

  • Inactive - The monsoon trough weakens or retreats to the north of Australia. It is characterised by light winds and isolated shower and thunderstorm activity.

So how does this affect Australia? Basically, expect cloudy conditions, lengthy periods of heavy rain, occasional thunderstorms and fresh to strong squally winds. This can often cause flooding in affected areas so it's important to prepare properly before the monsoon season begins.

What to do before a monsoon

There are several things you can do to prepare for monsoon season:

What to do during a monsoon

It's important to stay vigilant during a monsoon to ensure the safety of yourself and your family:

  • Tune in to warnings - contact family and neighbours to make sure they are aware

  • During lightning:

    • Stay inside - lightning can strike from as far as 16km away from rainfall so if you can hear thunder or have seen lightning, stay indoors.

    • Only use your phone if it’s an emergency.

    • Avoid plumbing - don’t touch faucets, put the washing on, have a shower, or wash your hands.

    • Stay away from windows.

    • Stay low.

  • During high winds:

    • Stay inside - avoid unnecessary travel as monsoon winds can cause extensive damage.

    • Stay away from trees - winds can knock trees and power lines down.

    • Stay away from windows.

    • Never touch a power line.

  • During dust storms:

    • Pull over immediately if driving.

    • Stay inside.

  • During flash flooding:

    • Do not drive through flood waters.

    • Stay inside.

    • Avoid unnecessary travel.

What to do after a monsoon

Monsoons can cause significant damage to buildings and vehicles and cut access to power and water supplies. Once the storm has passed, you will be able to assess any damage and clean up. The Australian Red Cross provides insightful information on how to clean up after a severe storm so head over here if you want to read more.

Some important things to be wary of after a monsoon:

  • Check for damage - Take photographs of any damage as proof and contact your insurance provider.

  • Clean up debris around your home - Check with your local government for advice on disposing of green waste and other materials such as asbestos fencing.

  • Continue to listen to local radio and check official websites for updated information or instructions.

  • Stay clear of creeks, drains, causeways, streams, fallen trees, and any damaged buildings.

  • Check in with your family, friends, and neighbours.

  • Avoid any power lines brought down during the storm and be careful of metal fences that may be in contact with the downed lines.

  • Never drive, ride, swim or walk in floodwater.

  • Contact the SES on 132 500 if you need emergency assistance with storm damage.

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: ABC, Bureau of Meteorology, and The Conversation

Image credit: Markus Branse at Flickr

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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