Pilbara residents and travellers in the region are being urged to prepare now for cyclones as the forecast for the upcoming season predicts an “average to above-average” number of cyclones, including an increased risk of one before Christmas. The Bureau of Meteorology this week released its Tropical Cyclone Outlook for the 2020-2021 season which shows a 60 per cent chance of an above- average number of tropical cyclones in waters off the North West coast. The average number per season is five cyclones. The outlook predicts WA will have two coastal impacts with a significant risk of at least one severe tropical cyclone with coastal impact during the season. With La Nina now established, there is also an increased risk of a cyclone before Christmas. Department of Fire and Emergency Services West Pilbara District offficer of natural hazard Paul Leiper said COVID-19 travel restrictions had led to an increase in intrastate tourism. “Across the Pilbara we have a lot more tourists travelling in the region at the moment and that’s likely to extend deeper into the year and into the Christmas period than normal given the restrictions on travel elsewhere,” he said. “Cyclones are not something you want to be in temporary accommodation for. It’s imperative that those who are travelling really assess their situation and have a plan and strategy to help them travel out of the region when a cyclone is approaching, earlier rather than later. “I implore all travellers to make sure they are staying aware of the situation around them. In order to get out of its way, there are hundreds if not thousands of kilometres that need to be travelled to be safe and that takes time.” Mr Leiper said residents needed to prepare by organising emergency kits, maintaining the home, tying down caravans, and cleaning up the garden. “It’s the time of year the community needs to start preparing their property or starting their planning phase, having conversations at home with family and conversations with their work,” he said.