Cyclones are a part of life for people living in Queensland’s coastal areas.
In Queensland, communities within 50 kilometres of the coastline heading north from Bundaberg are most susceptible to cyclones, however accompanying wind and rain from weakening cyclones can affect communities throughout all parts of Queensland.
What is a cyclone, a storm surge and a storm tide?
The Bureau of Meteorology provides the following explanations to explain how cyclones, storm surges and storm tides work hand in hand to create at times catastrophic conditions.
Cyclones are powerful weather systems that can cause significant damage to the built and natural environments. They develop from low pressure systems that develop over warm oceans in the tropics, and generally intensify over several days, generating severe winds, strong rain and flooding. Cyclones produce very strong and potentially destructive winds that rotate clockwise around a calm centre (the ‘eye’).
A storm surge is a rise above the normal water level along a shore resulting from strong onshore winds and / or reduced atmospheric pressure. Storm surges accompany a tropical cyclone as it comes ashore. They may also be formed by intense low-pressure systems in non-tropical areas.
The combination of storm surge and normal (astronomical) tide is known as a storm tide. The worst impacts occur when the storm surge arrives on top of a high tide. When this happens, the storm tide can reach areas that might otherwise have been safe.
Understand your risk
Queensland homes within 50 kilometres of the coastline north from Bundaberg need to be strong enough to withstand cyclonic winds. In addition, homes located within 100 to 200 metres of an open shoreline are at risk of impacts from breaking waves caused by storm tide.
To understand your storm tide risk, you can request a Coastal Hazard Property Map which shows the estimated storm tide levels for your particular property. You can also talk to a coastal engineer who can confirm whether your property is likely to be impacted by waves during a storm tide.
Damage and impact
As a cyclone approaches, the wind and rain gradually increases over several hours. Winds caused by cyclones are powerful enough to break large trees, roll over sea containers, and blow away unsecured caravans, garden sheds and poorly constructed roofed patios. Strong winds associated with cyclones can cause extensive property damage and turn loose items into wind-borne debris that cause further building damage. Slow moving cyclones can take many hours to move past a particular location, causing extreme wind and rain that can last up to 12 hours.
Understanding tropical cyclone categories
The severity of cyclones are expressed as categories one to five. The Bureau of Meteorology explains below.
Category wind gusts (km/h) and typical impact
|Category||Strongest Gust||Typical effects|
|1 - Tropical Cyclone||
Less than 125 km/h
|Minimal house damage. Damage to some crops, trees and caravans. Boats may drag moorings.|
|2 - Tropical Cyclone||
|Minor house damage. Significant damage to signs, trees and caravans. Heavy damage to some crops. Risk of power failure. Small boats may break moorings.|
|3 - Severe Tropical Cyclone||
Very destructive winds
|Some roof and structural damage. Some caravans destroyed. Power failure likely.|
|4 - Severe Tropical Cyclone||
Very destructive winds
|Significant roofing and structural damage. Many caravans destroyed and blown away. Dangerous airborne debris. Widespread power failures.|
|5 - Severe Tropical Cyclone||
More than 280 km/h
Extremely destructive winds
|Extremely dangerous with widespread destruction.|
Steps to reduce the impact of cyclones and storm surges
If you live in a cyclone prone area, the following steps will help you reduce your risk.
Find out more and Get Ready
Check out these other pages and resources to help you Get Ready.