Cyclones and other disasters

Cyclones

A tropical cyclone is a massive collection of whirling wind and dense cloud mass, spiralling clockwise around a central eye of exceptional low pressure. With winds reaching speeds in excess of 200km/h, cyclones can be extremely dangerous. On average, 10 cyclones occur in the Australian region each year. The Bureau of Meteorology keeps the public informed by issuing cyclone watches and warnings.

Cyclone Categories

The severity of a tropical cyclone is measured by a category determined by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). Cyclone categories range from 1 for weaker cyclones to 5 for the most severe cyclones. This helps the community assess the severity of the cyclone and take appropriate actions.

Things to do once a cyclone warning is issued

When the cyclone impact is imminent:

  • Turn off power, water or gas if advised by the Local Disaster Management Group or Ergon Energy.
  • Turn off outdoor LPG tanks to reduce the risk of fire if tanks are damaged or dislodged.
  • Unplug small appliances. Appliances may be affected by power surges, as the cyclone approaches.
  • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.
  • Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, sinks, plastic bottles, cooking pots and any other safe storage containers.
  • Turn off major appliances if the power is lost. Power surges when electricity is restored may cause damage to your appliances if left on.
  • Retrieve your emergency kit and ensure this is close by at all times.

During a cyclone:

  • Stay in the strongest room of your house. This should be on ground level in a small interior room, unless there is a risk of flooding when the first floor would be safer.
  • Choose a room or place in your house which has as many walls as possible between you and the outside winds.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Protect yourself from flying objects by lying on the floor under a table or other sturdy object. Cover yourself with a mattress, rugs, or blankets.
  • Be aware that during the eye of the cyclone, winds will seem to stop, then return fiercely in the opposite direction.
  • Be aware of possible flooding. Most cyclones regardless of intensity drop large amounts of rain and cause severe flooding even when they are no longer a cyclone.

After a cyclone:

  • Do not venture outside until you have heard the official word that the cyclone has passed. The calm may just be the eye or the cyclone may turn and hit your area a second time.
  • Continue to listen for weather warnings and advice. The cyclone may redevelop or turn direction threatening your area again. Flooding is also likely. Officials will issue public safety notices on such things as contaminated water supplies.
  • Help injured or trapped neighbours. If the situation is life threatening, call '000'.
  • Check to see if neighbours, especially those with special needs, require assistance. This will help relieve the strain on emergency services, who will be stretched to the limit.
  • Be wary of fallen power lines and notify Ergon Energy. Treat all power lines as live and keep your distance.
  • Look for fire hazards, mainly broken or leaking gas lines and gas cylinders.
  • If there is a sewage overflow on your property, notify the council.
  • Take pictures of the damage to your home for evidence in insurance claims.
  • If the power has been out for some time, perishable food may have started to go off. Throw out any food that came into contact with floodwater.
  • Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until authorities have advised supplies are safe.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Arrange to have one family member or friend outside of the impacted area call others to let them know of your situation. Demands on the telephone system for emergency calls will be high and parts of the system may be damaged.