Severe storms in Australia

Severe storms in Australia

Severe storms in Australia refers to the storms including cyclones which have caused severe damage in Australia.

The first storm recorded in Australia was a shipwreck in 1622.

Australian Capital Territory

On 31 December 2006 a huge thunderstorm caused havoc in the southern part of Canberra - inner suburbs and Tuggeranong. Thunderstorms occurred nearly daily until 27 February 2007 when a SuperCell storm hit Canberra City, dumping nearly one metre of ice in Civic. This ice was so heavy the newly built shopping centre's roof collapsed, birds were killed in the hail produced from the SuperCell (Northborne Avenue), and people were stranded. The following day (29th February) many homes in Canberra were subjected to flash flooding, caused either by storm water infrastructure's inability to cope or through mud slides from cleared land. November to February is traditionally the thunderstorm season. As reported by the Bureau of Meteorology, February 2007 had a record number of thunderstorms [Cite web |url= |title=Record Stormy February in Canberra]

There were heavy storms which hit Canberra and the surrounding New South Wales region on 2 December 2005. The storms were the worst emergency to hit Canberra since the 2003 Canberra bushfires. The storms caused much damage to houses and property, and one man was killed by a falling tree in the suburb of Curtin. The storm hit Canberra at about 4.30pm, and moved south-eastwards across the city. There were 51 Canberra suburbs which reported damage during the storm, the most extensive being in Fyshwick estimated to be $3-4 million in damage. The ACT Emergency Services received about 200 calls for help during the storm, with the NSW SES getting more than 500 calls. Thousands of houses lost power, with ACTEW saying that about 5% of the network had been affected. The storm was rated as one of the biggest ever to hit the ACT.

From 1988 to 2005 there had been ten storms previous to the 2nd of December storm to hit the ACT. Five people were injured in the suburb of Chisholm in 1990 by a tornado which damaged 37 houses. Two hundred houses were damaged by a severe storm in 2001.

27,000 people were affected by a severe storm in January 1996.

In 1971 a flash flood in the Woden Valley killed seven people, injured 15 and affected 500 people. The insurance damage was estimated at $9 million (1971 dollars). [Cite web |url= |title=Woden Valley, Canberra, ACT: Flash Flood |work=EMA Disasters Database |publisher=Australian Government: Emergency Management Australia]

New South Wales

Cyclonic effects in the North coast, New South Wales killed 46 people in 1923.

On 21 January 1991 severe thunderstorms moved across the northern suburbs of Sydney during the afternoon. Strong winds and large hail stones caused extensive damage. Hail stones up to 7 cm in diameter and flash flooding was reported in several locations. Some areas received more than 35 mm of rain in 6 minutes and more than 60 mm in half an hour. Areas of most severe damage stretched from the Warrawee-Turramurra area to Duffys Forest, with significant damage occurring to property in the Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby and Warringah council areas. More than 7,000 houses were damaged. The total estimated insurance payout for the storm was estimated at $215 million [Bureau of Meteorology storm report, 21st January 1991 ] .

Australia's most costly natural disaster in dollar terms was a severe hail storm over Sydney on 14 April 1999. Hail the size of cricket balls fell in a damage path that extended from Bundeena in the south to Darling Point in the North and from Sydenham in the west to Bondi Junction in the east. In total, over 20,000 properties and 40,000 vehicles were damaged during the storm with more than 25 aircraft damaged at Sydney Airport. [Cite web |url= |title=The Sydney Hailstorm - 14 April 1999 |publisher=Bureau of Meterology]

A severe storm in the Hunter Valley, Sydney and central western regions killed 3 people in November 2001. A storm in January 2005 killed three and injured 12 with the damage bill estimated at $216.7m. [Cite web |url= |title= Hunter (incl Port Stephens) Sydney and Central Western Regions, NSW: Severe Storms (incl Tornadoes & Hail) |work=EMA Disasters Database |publisher=Australian Government: Emergency Management Australia]

A Piper Chieftain light aircraft crashed west of Condobolin in December 2005 during storms killing Peter Menegazzo, one of Australia's biggest landowners and his wife.

A major storm in the Hunter Valley, Central Coast and Sydney killed 9 people in June, 2007. The storm caused extensive damage to the Newcastle, Wyong and Gosford areas, and in the following days caused major floods in the Hunter region including Maitland and flash flooding in other parts of the region. Electricity supplies were extensively damaged. The resultant swell from the storm on June 8 caused oil tanker Pasha Bulker to run aground off Newcastle's Nobbys Beach.

Northern Territory

Cyclone Tracy was a tropical cyclone that devastated Darwin, Australia, from December 24 to December 25, 1974. It killed 71 people and destroyed over 70 percent of Darwin's buildings, leaving over 20,000 people homeless. Most of Darwin's population was evacuated to Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs and Sydney, and many never returned to Darwin.


18 were killed in Townsville in 1896.

Cyclone Mahina, in March 1899, resulted in the greatest death toll of any natural disaster in Australian history. Over 400 people lost their lives. The storm decimated a pearling fleet at Bathurst Bay in Queensland and deaths included the crews of around 100 vessels and an estimated 100 local aborigines.

There were two strong cyclones on the Queensland coast in 1918. The Mackay Cyclone struck the Queensland coast, particularly Mackay on 30 January, 1918. There was a cyclone and storm surge with death toll estimated between 77 and 100 in the 1918 Innisfail Cyclone, Queensland coast, particularly Innisfail.

In 1934 a Cyclone Northern Queensland killed 99 people in March, 1934. [Cite web |url= |title=Cape York - Townsville, Qld: Cyclone (incl Storm Surges) |work=EMA Disasters Database |publisher=Australian Government: Emergency Management Australia]

The Gold Coast Cyclone struck the Gold Coast and northern New South Wales killing 26 people in February, 1954. In 1969 there was a storm at Kempsey that killed 21 because of the loss of a ship.


An unusually intense low-pressure system developed over Eastern Bass Strait on 2nd February 2005. After a spell of warm days with a north to north easterly airflow over much of eastern Australia, the region suffered the effects of one of the most intense summer time weather systems on record. Southern NSW, South Australia and Tasmania also received substantial rainfall during this event, however the highest rainfalls were concentrated in Victoria. The event made February 2005, Victoria's wettest February since 1973 and the 7th wettest in the last 106 years. The cold air associated with this system also assisted in the month of February in Victoria being its coolest since 1954. Many rainfall and temperature records were broken in the course of the event as the system passed across eastern Australia.

The system brought abnormally low temperatures and severe storms with gale and storm force winds to most parts of the region. However, the continuous rainfall for about 30 hours was perhaps the most significant feature produced by the low-pressure system. The rainfall resulted in widespread flooding, particularly over Central Victoria and West and South Gippsland. Unseasonable snowfalls were observed on the Australian Alps. Although low-pressure systems in February are not uncommon, the slow and westward moving nature of this particular system was extraordinary. The centre of the low developed and deepened over Melbourne with very little movement. The combination of extreme rainfall and lashing winds caused destruction.Victoria is a high area for severe storms.

Western Australia

A Cyclone at Eighty Mile Beach killed 140 people in 1884. A Cyclone near Roebourne and Geraldton killed 61-71 people in 1894.

A Cyclone in Broome killed 141 people in March, 1935. [Cite web |url= |title=Tropical Cyclones Affecting Broome |publisher=Bureau of Meterology ]

ee also

* List of disasters in Australia by death toll

External links

* [ Australian Goevernment Emergency Management Australia Disasters Database with a record of many of the disasters that have affected Australia]
* [,10117,17444259-2,00.html News story]
* [,5744,17443539%255E2702,00.html Three die as mini-tornado wreaks havoc]
* [,5936,17445955%255E1702,00.html Damage could cost millions]


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