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Cyclones and severe storms

Cyclones and severe storms can produce hail, flooding rains, lightning, winds greater than 200km/h and storm surge.

Pay attention to weather forecasts during storm season (November–April)—keeping informed will help you protect your family and property.

Prepare your home for cyclones and severe storms before they happen.

When you hear a severe storm or cyclone warning

  • Stay tuned in to warnings
  • Contact family and neighbours to make sure everyone knows
  • Shelter and secure animals
  • Secure outdoor furniture, and any other loose outside items
  • If you have a swimming pool, submerge plastic outdoor furniture to prevent it flying around in high winds
  • Move wheelie bins inside or fill with water
  • Park vehicles under shelter or cover with firmly tied tarpaulins or blankets
  • Unplug all electrical items, aerials and computer modems
  • Turn off electricity and gas main supplies if instructed by authorities
  • Fill buckets and baths with clean water in case the water supply becomes. restricted (make sure you have water purification tablets to make water drinkable)
  • Secure windows
  • If windows have shutters, close them
  • Tape other windows (without shutters) in a criss-crossing pattern using strong packing tape
  • Close curtains or blinds
  • If you have a boat, secure it.

Evacuate or stay at home?

Find out from your council if your home is in a storm tide evacuation area. If it is, stay with friends or family who live in secure accommodation, in an area further inland and on higher ground.

If you don't live in a storm tide evacuation area, staying in your home is often the best option. However, if you live in a home built before 1982, or have special needs, it may be safer to stay with family or friends in a newer home.

Make sure you have an evacuation plan and kit.

During a severe storm or cyclone

If at home:

  • stay tuned in to warnings (keep a battery-powered radio in your emergency kit)
  • activate your emergency plan
  • stay inside and shelter well clear of windows, doors and skylights
  • don't use a landline telephone or taps during a severe storm—lightning can travel down phone lines and plumbing.
  • If the building starts to break up, shelter in the strongest part (cellar, internal room, hallway or built-in wardrobe) under a mattress, strong table or bench.

If outdoors, seek solid enclosed shelter.

If driving, stop clear of trees, power lines and streams.

After a cyclone

The time immediately after a cyclone is often as dangerous as the event itself. People have been injured or killed while sightseeing in the aftermath.

Once authorities have advised that the cyclone has passed, remember to:

  • listen to your radio and remain indoors until advised it is safe to go outside
  • use recommended safe routes to return to your home
  • not go sightseeing
  • check on your neighbours if necessary
  • not use electrical appliances that have been wet, until they are checked for safety
  • boil or purify your water until supplies are declared safe
  • stay away from damaged powerlines, fallen trees and flood water
  • contact your local council if you need help, or if your home is uninhabitable due to cyclone damage.

More information

Cyclone watches and cyclone warnings—what's the difference?

The Bureau of Meteorology issues cyclone 'watches' or 'warnings' depending on how immediate the threat is.

Cyclone watch—issued when cyclonic winds are expected within 24 to 48 hours.

Cyclone warning—issued when cyclonic winds are expected within 24 hours.

Beware the calm eye of the cyclone

Some people go outside in the eye of a cyclone, mistakenly believing that the cyclone has passed. The eye is in the centre of the cyclone and can vary in size, from 10km to 100km, depending on the severity of the storm.

Due to the least amount of air pressure in the eye, it produces clear weather with light wind, no clouds, no rain and some sunshine. But, the storm is not over yet, it is only the middle of the storm.

Depending on the wind gusts, the eye may pass in a few minutes or in a few hours. Stay inside until you hear official advice that it’s safe to go outside.

Don't ignore the dangers

Don't drive through floodwater

Each year, emergency services receive calls for help from people who have ignored traffic signs and road closures and become stranded in floodwater—putting themselves and their rescuers at risk. Think about the consequences of your actions. Don't risk your life or the lives of others.

Don't play in or around floodwater

Children drown every year in floods. Warn children of the dangers—don’t let them play in or around floodwater.

Last updated
19 November, 2015

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