SURVIVING CYCLONE SEASON
Written by TFM on 06/11/2023
Well, Halloween has come and gone, Christmas Decorations are in the Shops, the build up is well and truly under way and November signals the start of the Cyclone Season.
If you’re new to the NT and this is your first Cyclone Season, here’s a run down on what to expect and how you can be prepared.
The cyclone season in the Northern Territory typically spans from November to April. During this time, the Territory can be affected by severe storms, monsoonal rains, storm surge, flooding and of course tropical cyclones.
Cyclones are areas of low atmospheric pressure surrounded by high wind systems which rotate in a clockwise direction. They are graded according to their severity and wind velocity on a scale from Category 1 (least severe) to Category 5 (most severe). Cyclone Tracy was a category 4.
While many cyclones and storm fronts form over this time frame, few will cause much destruction. Category 5 cyclones are rare, however the boy-scouts motto of being prepared applies to all cyclones – seeing how much damage Cyclone Marcus caused in 2018 is a strong reminder not to be complacement.
Preparation Is the Key
Stay Informed: The first step in preparation is staying informed. Follow the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and listen to local news like 104One for cyclone updates. That way you have the latest information and any evacuation notices.
There are three warning levels
- Watch and Act
- Emergency Warning
A cyclone ADVICE has been issued – what do I do?
- Review your household emergency plan
- Check supplies in your cyclone kit and fill any water containers you may have
- Re-check your property for any loose material and tie down (or fill with water) any large or relatively light items such as boats and rubbish bins
- Fill your vehicles’ fuel tanks and jerry cans with fuel
- Ensure household members know what the strongest part of the house is and what to do in the event of a cyclone emergency warning
- Tune in to 104one or visit www.securent.nt.gov.au for further information and warnings
- Check neighbours are aware of the situation and are prepared
A cyclone WATCH AND ACT has been issued – what do I do?
- Activate your household emergency plan and finalise your emergency kit
- Collect children from school or childcare centres and go home
- Park vehicles under solid shelter (handbrake on and in gear)
- Secure outdoor furniture, garden items, caravans and boats
- Lock loose items inside • Close shutters and board up or block all windows
- Draw curtains and secure all external doors and windows
- Shelter and secure pets and animals
- Stay tuned to your local radio/television or visit www.securent.nt.gov.au for further information
- Fill your bathtubs and buckets with water
A cyclone EMERGENCY WARNING has been issued – what do I do?
- Shelter indoors now
- Listen for further advice from emergency services
Do you have a Cyclone Kit?
If you don’t, now is a great time to start preparing one with the essential supplies – here’s a handy checklist for what should be in your kit.
Emergency Kit Checklist
- Battery-operated radio with spare batteries
- Torch with spare batteries, candles and waterproof matches
- Three days of non-perishable foods and a can opener
- 10 litres of bottled water per person, per day
- First aid kit and manual with any essential medicines
- A change of warm clothes for each person and closed-in shoes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Toilet paper and essential toiletries, including sunscreen and insect repellent
- Special needs for infants, the aged and people with disabilities
- Important documents (birth & marriage certificates, driver’s licence, passports, insurance policies and photos)
- Sealable waterproof bags
- Mobile phone, charger and power bank
- Extra car and house keys
- A copy of your household plan
- Pet supplies
- Portable cooker (if using gas remember to have spare canisters or bottles)
- Cooking and eating utensils
Make sure your kit is in an easy to reach dry place and that every member of your house knows where to find it.
Did you know, cyclones are named to help identify them and reduce confusion? These days names alternate between male and female in alphabetical order, originally the custom was to use only female names, that was changed in 1975 when male names were included.
Is Your House Cyclone-Proof?
There’s no such thing as a cyclone proof house but you can reduce the chance of storm damage if you take care of your home and plan ahead.
Homes built in cyclone-prone areas of the NT since 1975 should be designed to withstand a mid-range category four cyclone. Category four cyclones have wind speeds of 225 kilometres per hour to 279kmh.
Other things to do to keep your home safe include:
- Make sure your treetops and branches are trimmed (only if they are not near power lines).
- Clear your property and balcony of loose material that could cause injury or damage during extreme winds.
- Check for signs of corrosion, rotten timber, termite attacks or loose fittings.
- Make sure your ORG (overflow relief gully) is clear from debris.
- Check your roof is secure
- Often the strongest room in your house to shelter in is your bathroom, internal laundry, hallway, closed storage rooms etc. Generally the smallest room with little or no windows.
- If you don’t’ have window shutters installed you can tape windows to provide an extra level of protection
- Decide whether you will shelter in your house or elsewhere.
Have you ever wondered why in the Southern Hemisphere we have cyclones, but the Western Pacific has Typhoons, and the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific have Hurricanes, they are all the same, just different names.
Stay safe, stay prepared, don’t be complacent.
Cyclone Marcus was one of the worst Cyclones to hit Darwin since Tracy in 1974, coming at the end of a solid wet season, it created 2,221 jobs logged with the City of Darwin, Over 10,000 trees fell on council land and open spaces, 26,000 plus homes lost power including those as far as Batchelor and Adelaide River and caused an estimated 97.46 million AUD in damages
The following images from Cyclone Marcus clean-up are shared from the ABC Darwin’s Facebook page.
Article complied from various sources including www.securent.gov.au