Cyclones and Storms
What to do in severe weather events
Cyclones and Storms – What you Must Know
The tropical cyclone season generally runs from November to end of April, with details provided around October each year. The Bureau of Meteorology estimates that two to four cyclones will form in the Coral Sea each season, although it is not possible to accurately know the number of cyclones or their force until they form. The only thing we know for sure is that cyclones happen every year, and we need to be prepared.
Tropical Cyclone Advice
A tropical cyclone watch is issued for coastal communities when the onset of gales is expected within 48 hours, but not within 24 hours. A tropical cyclone warning is issued for coastal communities when the onset of gales is expected within 24 hours or is already occurring.
You can find more information on the Bureau of Meteorology website:
The intensity of a cyclone is categorised from 1 (weak) to 5 (strong):
- Category 1: Negligible house damage, damage to some crops, trees and caravans. Boats maydrag their mooring. Gales have gusts to 125km/h (strong gales).
- Category 2: Minor house damage and damage to signs, trees and caravans. Heavy damage to crops. Risk of power failure. Small crafts may break their moorings. Destructive winds with gusts of 125 to 169km/hr.
- Category 3: Some roof and structural damage. Some caravans destroyed and likely power failure. Very destructive winds with gusts of 170 to 224 km/hr.
- Category 4: Significant roofing loss and structural damage. Caravans destroyed and dangerous airborne debris. Widespread power failures. Very destructive winds with gusts of 225 to 279 km/hr.
- Category 5: Extremely dangerous with widespread destruction. Very destructive winds with gusts of more than 280 km/hr.
The Queensland Government State Disaster Management Group suggests that your Cyclone Kit has two parts:
- an Emergency Kit, which can be prepared in advance and useful for any emergency; and
- an Evacuation Kit, which is packed at the time of the event
As you prepare your kits, also consider preparing a cyclone plan (see below).
Preparing an Emergency Kit
This is a version of a regular camping kit and includes:
- A portable radio and a torch, both with spare batteries.
- Fresh water and canned food. If you have pets, put some food a side for them too.
- Matches, fuel lamp, portable stove, cooking gear, utensils and waterproof containers and bag
- A first aid kit and first aid manual.
- Some cash (ATMs and EFTPOS won’t work if the power is down).
- Emergency phone numbers, including police, ambulance, emergency services, and electrical/gas service. Include the contact details of family or friends outside your area who can act as a contact point if your family becomes separated.
- Masking tape, tarps, ropes and other items to ‘batten down’.
Preparing an Evacuation Kit
Your evacuation kit should fit in a waterproof container. Aside from including your emergency kit, it should also contain:
- Warm clothes
- Essential medications
- Important papers, like your house and content insurance policy, passport.
- Small keepsakes you cannot live without, such as photographs.
Preparing a Cyclone Plan
A cyclone plan includes:
- Location of gas/electricity turn off valves or switches and how to turn them off.
- Strong areas of the house where you can weather the storm, like the bathroom or hallway.
- Enough insurance coverage. Make sure you understand the details regarding cyclones or floods.
- Arrangement with a friend or family who will act as your outside contact point
- Track and Threat Map to track the Cyclone Warning Centre’s Watches and Warnings.
- Discussing with your family about cyclones and storms.
- Discussing with your neighbours, particularly elderly or those who are new to the neighbourhood, to check they are prepared.
You can find more information, on the Queensland Government’s Get Ready website
Be Prepared Before the Cyclone Hits
- Check that your home is in sound conditions, paying attention to roof and leaves:
- Trim any tree branches hanging over the roof
- Clear your property of any loose items that could become airborne during a storm
- Review your Emergency Kit when warned that your area may get hit.
- Store all outdoor loose items inside the house, unless your garden shed is cyclone proof. Put garden furniture in the pool (the wind won’t blow them away), and fill your garbage bins with water.
- Fuel vehicles and park them under solid cover (avoid trees).
- Board up windows or use heavy-duty tape.
- Pack your evacuation kit, including your emergency kit.
- Disconnect all electrical appliances and turn off gas. Official evacuation notices may be broadcasted on television and radio stations.
- Leave as early as possible as there will be congestion. Wear closed shoes and protective clothing. Take your Evacuation Kit with you.
When the Cyclone Hits
- If you are driving, stop, park in a sheltered zone away from water, trees and power lines. Stay inside your car.\
- In a house, keep away from windows and stay put in the strongest part of the house.
- Put your pets in a room, away from the rest of the family.
- If the house starts to break up, protect yourself best you can with mattresses or rugs, take refuge under a strong table or hold on to a solid fixture like a pipe.
- Keep listening to radio updates and advice
- Be aware of the eye of the cyclone, when winds drop suddenly. They will soon start from the opposite direction.
After the Event
- Stay inside until officially advised to. Or if you’ve evacuated, stay away until there is official notice that it is safe to do so.
- Refrain from roaming the neighbourhood to check damage. You’ll only expose yourself and others to unnecessary risks.
- Check for gas leaks but stay away from electrical appliances as they most likely will be wet.
- Beware of fallen power lines, big or small, damaged infrastructure like bridges, roads, and buildings.
- Avoid making unnecessary calls.
Emergency Contact Numbers
- Police, Fire and Ambulance – call 000
- Hotline numbers for Local Government Emergency Coordination Centre and Disaster Evacuation Centres are advertised on radio and television if activated