As the Queensland events of 2011 showed, cyclone risk along the coast of Queensland is real.

When a cyclone forms over the open ocean, the combination of strong winds and low atmospheric pressure causes sea levels to rise higher than normal. When a cyclone moves towards land, this can cause great destruction.  As the cyclone tracks towards the coast and the depth of the water becomes shallower, an ever-increasing surge of water, known as a cyclone storm tide or storm surge, causes coastal inundation and flooding.

To demonstrate how such a storm surge might affect a coastal city, CSIRO researchers have created a model using the North Queenland city of Townsville that shows how quickly water can move and how soon it reaches low lying homes and businesses. 

Watch the animation and hear practical preparation tips from Greg Goebel (former head of Red Cross Queensland), Dr David Henderson (Director of the James Cook University Cyclone Testing Unit), Jelenko Dragisic (CEO of Volunteering Queensland), Jeff Callaghan (retired BoM weather forecaster) and Mara Bun (CEO of Green Cross Australia).

The Harden Up - Protecting Queensland website features a database with more than 3000 major weather events over the past 150 years. We locate these events at the local suburb level in order to enable the community to self assess the hazards they are exposed to.

One particular event in far north Queensland stands out for its very significant impacts. In 1899, TC Mahina hit the Bathurst Bay area, creating a storm surge which could have been as high as 14.6m. You can find the case study on Mahina here.

Green Cross Australia is working with James Cook University  Professor Jon Nott to share his indepth understanding of Australia's tropical cyclone history and implications going forward with our community audience.

In 2001 Professor Nott published a seminal article in the Journal Nature titled 'High frequency of 'super-cyclones' along the Great Barrier Reef over the past 5000 years.' This  article provides great insight into the impacts and recurrence of major cyclones near the Great Barrier Reef before recorded history.