Green Cross Australia (GCA) has worked with a team of staff, research experts, university interns and volunteers to develop a severe weather events database that includes over 3,000 floods, cyclones, severe thunderstorms, bushfires and storm surge events going back to 1850. Each of these events is listed across 3,275 suburbs that may have been impacted, based on the methodology described below.

If you know of an event that is not included in our events database, we would appreciate your help in developing our database by contacting us and sharing the details.  We will need to know what areas were affected, dates and a description of the event. 

Core data used in the Harden Up severe weather events database is sourced from a number of Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) databases and from the Attorney-General's Department Disasters Database which is managed by the Australian Emergency Management Institute.



Queensland has over 3,000 suburbs, and some postcodes cover more than 30 suburbs (a list of Queensland postcodes is here). The geographic size of some postcodes is very large compared to suburb boundaries. Because Harden Up offers a historical picture of local severe weather history, GCA has used suburbs rather than postcodes to list events so that we can drill down to a more meaningful local weather history for each location.

Harden Up lists events by suburb for community awareness and educational purposes using the Australia Post postcode/suburb list for Queensland which can be found here.



The primary source of flood data listed in the Harden Up database is the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) "Queensland Flood History" which is found here. The following methodology was used to identify why suburbs may have been impacted by each of the major floods listed by BoM.

Step 1: Identify which catchment(s) each flood drained into where clear historical information is available.

The Harden Up database records in which river catchment(s) a flooding event occurred in. A document surmising a history of major flood events in Queensland can be viewed here. This document lists flood events in Queensland from 1857 to 2010.

Queensland has forty three coastal and inland river catchments.

In order to identify which Queensland suburbs may have been impacted by each of these major historical floods, GCA staff and university interns reviewed the full text description for each event in the BoM archives to identify all regions, towns and/or suburb names mentioned. In this way we were able to identify all river catchments impacted by each flood.

Step 2: Identify which catchment(s) each flood drained into where unclear historical information is available.

In some cases BoM archives identify an approximate date and general area impacted, without naming specific locations. For these events, GCA identified each possible river impacted based on general locational descriptions (in some cases for older events, descriptions are as broad as "Southeast Queensland" or "Central Queensland", so all river catchments in the region may have been impacted).

To ascertain whether a river was impacted, GCA referred to historical BoM River Gauge Data for that river to see whether a major river gauge measure was triggered around the approximate date mentioned.

For example, the river gauge history for the Fitzroy River is here.

The previous flooding history for the Fitzroy River found on the above link indicates a major peak was recorded around 1919, when the river peaked above the 10 metre gauge height:

Example of Fitzroy river guage 

By reviewing similar river gauge data for all possible rivers impacted by each event, GCA was able to identify impacted river catchments for each of the major floods listed in the BOM major flood archives.

Step 3: Identify which suburbs may have been impacted by each flood.

GCA linked events to suburbs according to which suburbs are located within each river catchment area.

The Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) manages Queensland river catchment map boundaries, which are used by the research community including BoM. DERM river catchment areas can be found here. The number of suburbs listed within each catchment map varies widely from a handful in some cases, to over a dozen suburbs in other cases, depending on the distribution of population around each Queensland river.

Some local government authorities have developed and made available flood maps that enable the public to locate historical flooding patterns around rivers. Around 200 suburb level flood maps developed by Brisbane City Council are available in - for example, the flood map for Milton is pictured below.

Example of milton flood map

By using these types of maps where available, Queenslanders can build an understanding of the historical flood risks in their neighbourhood locations, and can better understand whether historical floods around their local river may have impacted on their homes or immediate neighborhood areas. However, flood maps are not available for all areas across Queensland, and new methodologies for flood maps are being developed through various inquiries including the Flood Insurance Inquiry.

Therefore in order to identify which suburbs may have been impacted in each historical flood listed in the Harden Up database, GCA has included all suburbs within each river catchment impacted for each event linked to that river catchment. This means that if your suburb is located within an affected drainage basin area, your suburb will be listed for that particular event, even if the flood waters may not have reached your home or immediate neighborhood.

Burnett Catchment



Find out more about East Coast Lows here.

Some of the more intense low pressure systems outside the tropics are capable of matching the power and destructive potential of many tropical cyclones. In a league of their own in this regard are the class of cyclones known as "East Coast Lows", which as their name implies, develop near the east coast between southern Queensland and Tasmania. For purposes of listing these events in the Harden Up database, they are classified as "severe thunderstorms".

BoM experts and insurers are focusing intensively on these kinds of events because of their potentially significant property and safety impacts. During 2012, BoM will release a new East Coast Low database and this will be incorporated into the Harden Up database in future.

The primary source of East Coast Low data listed in the Harden Up database currently is a database archive created by Jeff Callaghan - a retired senior BoM forecaster who is Chair of the Harden Up Steering Committee. You can download this archive here. Video interviews with Jeff Callaghan are found throughout the Harden Up Be Aware section.

The affected area for each East Coast Low event was determined by referring to the corresponding BoM daily rainfall records, which are found here. GCA identified geographical areas that received significant rainfall on the day(s) listed in each archive event using these BoM rainfall records.

Over the next twelve months, in addition to incorporating the upcoming BoM East Coast Low archive into the Harden Up database, GCA will work to refine geographic impact areas using more refined geo-spatially located daily rainfall plot data.



Find out more about severe storms here.

The primary source of severe storm information in the Harden Up database is an archive created by Jeff Callaghan, a retired senior BOM forecaster who is Chairman of the Harden Up Steering Committee. You can download this archive here.

GCA determined which areas were impacted during each event by reviewing the historical archive text descriptions. In cases where only one location was mentioned, the event was attributed to all suburbs within a 10km radius of that location on Google Earth.

Proserpine Hailstorm (28 Nov 2005)

In some cases, more than one location is identified in the event archive description. In these cases, the event was recorded as a series of event locations each with their own 10km radius.



Storm surge events often accompany cyclones. The source information for storm surge events was the cyclone database (more detail on that below). The events where a storm surge was described in the report were extracted from the cyclone event list to form the storm surge database. This database currently contains 80 recorded storm surge events.

These events where located at the point of the major storm surge listed, and a 10 kilometres radius was drawn around this point to identify the relevant suburbs.

For more information on some particular storm surges, see the two archive documents in the resources section and the bottom of this page, which provide details of storm surges which occurred in the Gulf of Carpentaria.



The Harden Up Queensland bushfire database needs further development.

GCA has sourced major historical bushfires from the following references:

GCA carefully reviewed the available text descriptions for each event listed in each of these three references areas. In cases where a burnt area was specified, an area of that size (around the latitude and longitude mark identified as the main location) was specified.

Bushfires with no specified burnt area were assumed to have an impact radius of 5km around the main location.

For bushfires larger than this - over a number of towns - an impact area was drawn around the towns listed, and the a fire is listed for all suburbs within this area in the Harden Up database.

CGA and our research partners are keenly interested in developing our historical understanding of major historical Queensland bushfires. GCA is engaging with the Rural Fire Association of Queensland and other stakeholders to further develop the Harden Up Bushfire database.

If you have historical bushfire information please let us know by contacting GCA at



The main source of information about cyclone tracks in the Harden Up database is the "BoM Tropical Cyclone Track Database". You can find out more about historical BoM cyclone information here.

Two cyclone archives included in the Harden Up database can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

The Bureau of Meteorology provided GCA with a database covering all recorded tropical cyclone tracks over the region south of the equator between 90E and 160E. For the Harden Up project, all cyclone tracks that cross the QLD State boundary were selected. The corridor width for each of these cyclone paths was conservatively chosen to be the maximum width of recorded gale force winds (this is the mean radius from the system centre of the extent of winds, gale force 17m/s or above).

Before 1985, recorded gale force winds are not specified in the BoM Tropical Cyclone Track Database. GCA selected a nominal radius of 200km (the approximate average of recorded data) around the cyclone track. These cyclone track corridors were then overlayed against the QLD suburb locations in order to determine which suburbs may have been affected by a specific cyclone.

Cyclone Path (Jan 1910)

In a number of cases, a written description of cyclone effects is recorded, but the cyclones did not reach Queensland but rather veered offshore. In some of these cases, a map indicating the coastal affected area was available from BoM and suburbs within this map are listed in the Harden Up database. Where this was not the case, GCA estimated which coastal area was most impacted by an offshore event recorded, and a standard radius of 25km around the described location was applied for purposes of listing the suburbs in the Harden Up database.

Cyclone Dinah Impact Area

For all cyclone events a centre point, or main impact location is specified as one latitude/longitude mark. When you click on the 'more' link, this is the location that will display on the map alongside the event details. For example the central impact location for Cyclone Yasi is near Mission beach as shown in the "Region Map" at the left of the Cyclone Yasi case study page:

 Example of Yasi location



This section provides metadata information ("data about data") for the datasets referred to above.


DERM Catchment Maps (or Drainage Basins)

Date downloaded: September 2011

Description: The boundaries and names of the Queensland Drainage Basins are as defined by the Australian Water Resources Management Committee (WRMC). Information includes the name and number of each drainage basin. The capture scale for this dataset is 1:100 000. This data was downloaded in September 2011. The data is publicly available here:


BoM Flood History

Date range: 1941 - present


BoM River Gauge Data

Date range: 1890 - present


BoM Detailed Reports on Notable Queensland Floods

Date range: 1958 - present


ARCHIVE: Known Impacts of Tropical Cyclones, East Coast, 1858-2008

ARCHIVE: Known Impacts of Tropical Cyclones, Gulf of Carpentaria, 1885-2007


QLD suburb locations

Queensland suburbs were identified using the Australia Post listing of postcodes and suburbs located here: