Even though a cyclone can be known by many names—tropical cyclones, typhoon, hurricane, storms, tropical storms or superstorms, they are synonymous for one thing—they are deadly and highly unpredictable. They are also costly thanks to their devastating effects on lives, infrastructure and crops.
This post features some of the worst ever cyclones to hit the Australian coast since the early 1970s—and serves as a reminder that we should always stay prepared.
Cyclone Tracy (1974)
Considered a category four, Tracy descended upon Darwin in the Northern Territory on a Christmas Eve. It’s still considered one of the most destructive in Australian history as it came accompanied by severe winds moving at speeds of 250 km/h. Seventy one people lot their lives and thousands more were injured. Out of 43,000 people, 25,000 were rendered homeless, as per reports by the Australian government.
Cyclone Yasi (2011)
This was a category five that tracked across the far north Queensland coast near Mission Beach on the morning of February 3, 2011, producing severe wind gusts moving at 285 km/h. The massive storm damaged homes, destroyed crops and shattered marinas and island resorts. The damaged caused exceeded $800 million.
Cyclone Ada (1970)
This was a category four that left 14 people dead when it ravaged through Daydream, Hayman and South Molle islands in the Whitsundays of Queensland. The damage bill amounted to $390 million.
Cyclone Althea (1971)
This was a category four cyclone and was considered one of the worst to have affected the Queensland coast at the time. Three people lost their lives in Townsville and losses from damaged property were estimated at $50 million.
Cyclone Larry (2006)
Larry crossed the northern Queensland coast around Innisfail in form category 4 system on March of that year. Larry was considered the worst to have hit Queensland in more than 7 decades. About 10,000 homes were damaged and crops destroyed. The federal government estimated the overall loss at $1.5 billion. No deaths or serious injuries were reported.
Cyclone Ingrid (2005)
The category four Ingrid was unique because it made a landfall in three states and territories. Ingrid tracked the far north Queensland coast near the Lockhart River and intensified into category five by the time it struck the Northern Territory coastline before reducing to category four again as it tracked through Kimberly coast in WA.
Cyclone Emily (1972)
This category four system crossed the Queensland coast, south east of Gladstone. The strong winds only damaged sheds and trees even though it had generated violent seas that caused the death of eight seamen in three separate incidents along the central and southern Queensland coasts.
Cyclone Monica (2006)
This became the 17th and apparently last cyclone of the 2005-06 period. Monica terrorised the northern parts of Australia for more than a fortnight after being birthed off the south east tip of PNG. Starting as category one, Monica strengthened into a wild category five system before tracking near Maningrida, in the Northern Territory. No serious injuries or deaths were reported except minor damage to infrastructure.
Cyclone Alby (1978)
Coming as a category four, Alby tracked near the south west corner of WA killing five people and causing widespread but minor damage in the south-west parts. The damage bill amounted to $39 million as per 2003 dollars.
Cyclone Winifred (1986)
This category three system evolved into a cyclone January 3 approximately 450km north of Cairns. It tracked through the coast situated south of Innisfall on February 1, causing three deaths . The damage cost was estimated between $130 and $150 million with crop losses alone accounting for nearly $90 million.