Real-Life Cyclone Stories

Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Queensland - February 2011

On 3 February 2011, Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasi - a massive 1450 km in diameter - crossed the Queensland coast at approximately 25 km per hour and with wind gusts of 285 km per hour (though no equipment was able to directly measure the winds). Thousands of people were evacuated from Cairns as it was feared the city could take a direct hit.

Yasi struck Mission Beach, near Cardwell, and the World Heritage-listed Hinchinbrook Island. It flattened sugar cane and banana crops, huge areas of trees and many buildings, though no one was killed. The cyclone was so powerful that it didn't completely disperse until it reached the centre of Australia, near Alice Springs. It's estimated Cyclone Yasi cost $3.6 billion in damage - the most costly cyclone in Australia to date. 

Tropical Cyclone Larry, Queensland – March 2006

Tropical Cyclone Larry devastated far north Queensland when it hit on 20 March 2006.

Cyclone Larry developed in the Coral Sea and was carefully monitored by the Bureau of Meteorology, until it was officially determined to be a Category 3 cyclone. The next 48 hours were crucial in ensuring people were evacuated and took the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Cyclone Larry was increasing in wind speed and was upgraded to a Category 4 cyclone with wind speeds up to 240 km per hour. It hit Innisfail in the early hours of 20 March and continued to cause destruction and flooding as it moved west and began to weaken as it entered the Atherton Tablelands.

No lives were lost, but the total cost of damage was calculated to be over half a billion dollars. Fields of crops were flattened by the winds, buildings ripped apart and beaches eroded

 Damage to a local school

Tropical Cyclone Bobby, Western Australia – February 1995

This was a Category 4 tropical cyclone that eventuated in the west over the Timor Sea near Darwin.

Cyclone Bobby travelled south along the west coast of Australia and passed near Onslow on the 24 February 1995. It caused considerable damage to homes and buildings. Cyclone Bobby also brought heavy rains which flooded and damaged roads, bridges, crops and severely affected the mining industry.

During this time, there were two fishing trawlers and a bulk carrier at sea. The carrier ran aground and both fishing trawlers sank, resulting in the loss of seven lives.

Tropical Cyclone Tracy, Northern Territory – December 1974

Tropical Cyclone Tracy was a devastating blow to Darwin. On the 20 December 1974, a low pressure system developed in the Arafura Sea, which lies between Darwin and Papua New Guinea. By the next day, Tropical Cyclone Tracy was formed and a warning was sent out.

Over the next two days heavy rains and strong winds were reported and Cyclone Tracy edged closer to Darwin. Due to the time of the year, and the reduced threat of severe cyclones, residents took a relaxed approach to the warnings. When Cyclone Tracy struck Darwin in the early hours of Christmas Day, at estimated wind speeds of 250 km per hour, it brought heavy rains and destructive winds.

Forty-nine people lost their lives in Darwin and another 16 were lost at sea. Hundreds were injured and of the city's 11,200 homes, only 400 remained. Due to the lack of food, shelter, water, medical aid and the threats of the spread of diseases, 35,000 people were evacuated.