Storm Damage: A History Of Wild Weather In Queensland

by Jamie Grant on December 10, 2013

Severe storm damage is something that Queenslanders have had to deal with all too frequently during the summer season. Trees uprooted or dangerously damaged, branches torn off and flung through the air, or roofs ripped from houses. The damage bills can run into the billions of dollars and the long-term impacts on local communities are devastating.

A typical News report that follows these Storm Events.

Storms have ripped along the coast of Queensland from time immemorial inundating the flood plains and causing deluge down the mountains. We have only really been recording the history of storms in Queensland for just over 100 years and over that time we have witnessed some incredibly destructive storms with high winds and lashing rain carve a path through towns, crops and forests.

Now the largest or most powerful storms are not necessarily the most destructive ones. We can measure the power and intensity of storms and even measure the whipping winds that can tear the roof off your house within a split second. Big storms, or cyclones can have wind speeds up to 407 Kilometres per hour (this was the fastest wind speed ever recorded and belonged to Cyclone Olivia which hit Australia back in 1966, the most powerful storm ever recorded.)

Winds at this speed, particularly when they are loaded with rain or even hail can be devastating to anything in its path. Cyclone Olivia caused some millions of dollars to Oilrigs in her path yet caused no loss of life or significant property damage in communities. The difference between the power of a storm and the destruction it causes relies on one major factor – The path the storm takes. Many massive storms are brewed, build up and blow out all far from land out in the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes these storms have no more effect on human civilization than a large swell for surfers, or a particularly rainy week. Other storms that may be rated much lower on the SSHS (Saffir- Simpson Hurricane Scale) but due to their path they may cut a swathe through human civilisation and caused untold damage, death and destruction. The SSHS scale has five levels, with the lowest level being a category one storm that has winds up to around 130 Kilometres per hour. The highest level of Cyclone is a category five Cyclone, these are monstrous storms with high driving winds that have gusts more than 279 Km/H. Whilst this is the highest rating we can give a cyclone, there is a larger breed of tropical storm out there: The Super Cyclone!

The Super Cyclone!

The Super Cyclone

The Super Cyclone

Through our recorded history there have been a few Super Cyclones, these once in a hundred-year event have been the largest, most power and most destructive storms we have ever seen. The first of these super cyclones ever recorded in Australia was Cyclone Mahina in 1899. This huge storm is one of the least well remembered in Australian history, yet Super Cyclone Mahina was the deadliest in postcolonial history, In fact Cyclone Mahina is still Australia’s largest natural disaster on modern records. There was an estimated death toll from this super storm that is believed to have reached around 410 people. Most of these deaths came from mariners in the area whose boats were crushed, sunk, or driven on to the Great Barrier Reef. The estimated death toll from seafaring was quoted at 307 souls lost at sea. The remaining deaths were of the local indigenous people some of whom were attempting to assist the stricken at sea and lost their lives attempting to help the colonials.

Human lives were not the only ones at peril in this monster Cyclone. On Flinders Island there were confirmed sightings of dolphins lodged 15 metres up the cliff face and were dumped there by a wave reaching nearly 50 feet in height. The massive waves reached deep inland, with reports of fish, dolphins and sharks lodged in trees up to five Kilometres inland. An eyewitness who survived the storm was Constable J.M Kenny who was camped at Barrow Point, some 12 metres above sea level, reported that a great wave washed his camp away.

Despite modern talk of climate change, which the author does give credence to, we have never in Australia seen a storm in Australia that has been anywhere near as deadly as Super Cyclone Mahina.

Storms all along the Eastern Seaboard of Queensland are well known for developing into Cyclones and devastating coastal towns. But the most well remembered as a sad day was the 3rd of February 2011 when Cyclone Yasi made landfall near Mission Beach where wind gusts reached a recorded 290 Kilometres per hour! The storm surge reached three hundred metres inland and the wave got to seven metres in height.

Over thirty thousand locals were evacuated to safety, and it is because of this propitious action on behalf of the Bligh Government at the time that insured that the death toll was isolated to a single incident, where a man died from asphyxiation due to the fumes from the petrol driven generator he was running in his cramped quarters. Although the death toll from this Cyclone Yasi was low for a storm of its kind, the financial cost was the largest that Australia has ever had to bear. Estimates vary as to the total cost of this natural disaster, but conservative estimates rate it at about 3.5 billion dollars. With a repair bill of well over 2 billion and an estimated loss to the lucrative tourist industry of well over a billion dollars this was a disaster that Queensland is still in recovery from.

Storm damage is something that Queenslanders have to deal with every year, it may be some branches get torn loose and are lodged in your roof, or a whole tree may be pushed over. No matter how the storm damage occurs there is always the inevitable emergency clean up and repairs, which are conducted by the State Emergency Service and experienced tree removal experts. This long and laborious process seems endless when with the coming of the next season another batch of huge storms roll in again.

Due to the regular nature of the severe storms that blast Brisbane, it is essential to prepare for these harsh weather events by having the trees around your home pruned or lopped. Unstable branches on large Gum Trees can become dislodged during powerful winds and cause damage to homes.

It is always a really clever idea to have the phone numbers handy of a good Tree Lopper in Brisbane handy for emergency storm tree work or Emergency Tree removal Brisbane Northside. Visit this website for

Storm Damage: A History Of Wild Weather In Queensland.
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Storm Damage: A History Of Wild Weather In Queensland.
A History Of Wild Weather In Queensland. Trees uprooted or dangerously damaged, branches torn off and flung through the air, or roofs ripped from houses. The damage bills can run into the billions of dollars.

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