In Queensland, tropical cyclones pose a serious risk to homes,
business, and communities. Many lives have been lost at sea and
also on land, so preparing your family for cyclones is really
important. You can prepare for your family by completing a Harden Up
On average, 4.7 cyclones affect Queensland's weather each year,
with almost twice as many occurring during a La Nina weather
pattern, which caused the severe weather events during the summer
of 2010-2011. Cyclones bring destructive winds and could cause a
storm surge as they cross the coastline. The extent of destructive
winds varies between cyclones and a Tropical Cyclone Category
System classifies cyclones form a scale of 1 to 5. Category 5 is
the most destructive, with typical gusts over open flat land of
more than 280 km/h.
Cyclone Larry, which devastated areas between
Babinda and Tully in March 2006, and Cyclone Yasi,
which devastated Tully Heads and Cardwell in 2011, both became
marginal category 5 tropical cyclones for a few hours.
Tropical cyclones are dangerous for three reasons. First they
produce destructive winds, second they bring heavy rainfall and
consequently flooding, and third a cyclone could cause a storm
surge and inundate low-lying coastal areas. Wind gusts associated
with cyclones range from 90km/h up to 280 km/h, which destroy
property and propel building debris, whole houses, and trees like
missiles, sometimes with lethal consequences.
If you decide to stay within your home when a cyclone is
approaching, make sure that each family members understands that
destructive winds will decrease significantly as the eye of the
storm passes, only to be followed by the same destructive winds,
but in the opposite direction. Your local ABC radio station will
provide updates and warnings. Keep everyone inside until local
authorities advise that it's safe to venture outside
Ensure that your Harden Up plan is up-to-date and that each
member of your household knows where the your emergency kit is
stored and what to do in an emergency. Develop an
Evacuation Plan with your family or
household. Identify the nearest high ground and the safest
routes to that place. Await advice from local authorities about the
need to evacuate.
A tropical cyclone watch is issued for coastal communities when
the onset of gales is expected within 48 hours, but not within 24
hours. When a cyclone watch is issued, you've usually got one or
two days to prepare. However, cyclones are unpredictable and can
change course rapidly, so prepare your family as soon as a cyclone
watch is issued for your area.
- You and your family should recheck your property for any loose
material and store items, which might become missiles in strong
winds, in a safe place.
- Get to your nearest service station and fill your vehicles'
- Check your Emergency Kit and fill water
- Ensure household members know which room you've chosen as your
'safe room' (the strongest part of the house without external
windows), which is where you'll shelter.
- Talk to your family about what to do in the event of a cyclone
warning or an evacuation.
- Tune to your local ABC radio or TV for further information and
- Check that neighbours are aware of the situation and are
preparing in a similar fashion. Ask them if they need assistance
with shifting heavy outdoor items.
A tropical cyclone warning is issued for coastal communities
when the onset of gales is expected within 24 hours, or is already
occurring. Your local authority or council will provide essential
direction as the event evolves. The following actions may be
- If requested by local authorities, collect children from school
or childcare centre and go home.
- Park vehicles under solid shelter, with the hand brake on and
- Put wooden or plastic outdoor furniture in your pool or inside
with other loose items.
- Close shutters or board-up or heavily tape all windows. Draw
curtains and lock doors.
- Pack an Evacuation Kit of warm clothes, essential
medications, baby formula, nappies, valuables, important papers,
photos and mementos in waterproof bags to be taken with your
- Remain indoors with your pets.
- Stay tuned to your local ABC radio or TV for further
Based on predicted wind speeds and storm surge heights,
evacuation may be necessary. Official advice will be given on local
radio and TV regarding safe routes to evacuation centres and when
- Wear closed in shoes and tough clothing for protection.
- Lock doors; turn off power, gas, and water; take your
Emergency Kit and Evacuation Kit with
- If evacuating inland (out of town), take pets and leave early
to avoid heavy traffic, flooding and wind hazards.
- If evacuating to a public shelter or higher location, follow
police and State Emergency Services (SES) directions.
- If going to a public shelter, take bedding needs, and books or
games for children.
- I haven't been able to relocate pets earlier, lock them inside
and with plenty of food and water.
If you shelter-in-place when the cyclone strikes
- Disconnect all electrical appliances. Listen to your
battery-operated radio for updates.
- Stay inside and shelter in your 'safe room' in the strongest
part of the building.
- Be sure to keep your Emergency Kit and
Evacuation Kit with you.
- If the building starts to break up, protect yourself with
mattresses, rugs or blankets under a strong table or bench or hold
onto a solid fixture, such as a post or water pipe.
- Beware the calm 'eye' or middle the cyclone. If the wind drops,
don't assume the cyclone is over, because violent winds will soon
resume from another direction.
- Wait for the official 'all clear' from authorities before going
outside to assess damage.
- If you are out driving, park the car with the handbrake on and
in gear and remain in the vehicle. Park well away from the sea and
clear of trees, power lines, rivers and creeks.
After the cyclone
- Don't go outside until authorities advise that the cyclone has
passed and your region is safe.
- Check for any gas leaks.
- Don't use electric appliances if wet.
- Listen to local ABC radio for official warnings and
- If you have to evacuate, or did so earlier, don't return until
advised. Use the recommended route and don't rush.
- Beware of damaged power lines, bridges, buildings, trees, and
don't enter floodwaters.
- Continue to follow advice from authorities and all warnings and
don't go sightseeing.
- Check your neighbours are safe and offer assistance where
- To avoid network congestion, only make essential phone calls,
to ensure all your family members are safe.
The Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS) is sounded by radio
and TV stations prior to reading out the tropical cyclone warning
for a category 2 or higher cyclone.
When a cyclone approaches the coast and a storm surge is likely
to cause inundation, your local Disaster Management Group will
coordinate the evacuation of vulnerable areas. Early evacuation is
important because the storm surge precedes the cyclone crossing the
coast and could swamp coastal areas destroying roads and bridges
making evacuation hazardous if not impossible. The retreating surge
or ebb surge can cause further damage.