Severe Weather

Severe storms and severe weather can be unpredictable and can occur with little warning.

Storms have potential to cause substantial damage to homes and vehicles caused by heavy winds and large hail. They can damage significant structures such as powerlines, trees and other large objects that can be collected by large winds.

Typical weather patterns that can cause severe weather
  • Recently decayed tropical cyclones moving inland or into southern regions - sometimes interacting with cold fronts
  • Monsoon lows producing widespread gales and/or rain in the tropics
  • "East coast lows": Deep low pressure systems that can form in the Tasman Sea and affect the east coast of Australia
  • Vigorous squally cold fronts
  • Strong pressure gradients, often due to cold fronts, causing land gales - particularly in exposed alpine regions
  • Locally intense rainfall that can cause flash flooding
  • Powerful swell driven by storm winds well away from the coast that can contribute to dangerous surf
  • Combined occurrence of large surf at times of very high tides

The Bureau of Meteorology issues severe weather warnings whenever severe weather is occurring in an area or is expected to develop or move into an area. The warnings describe the area under threat and the expected hazards. Warnings are issued with varying lead-times, depending on the weather situation, and range from just an hour or two up to about 24 hours. 

Severe Weather Warnings are issued for:
  • Sustained winds of gale force (63 km/h) or more
  • Wind gusts of 90 km/h or more (100 km/h or more in Tasmania)
  • Very heavy rain that may lead to flash flooding
  • Widespread blizzards in Alpine areas
  • Very large waves and high tides expected to cause unusually damaging or dangerous conditions on the coast
Severe Weather Warnings can contain the following information:
  • Standard Emergency Warning Signal (SEWS) - sounded only for the most serious events
  • List of severe weather phenomena expected in the warning area
  • Threat area
  • Warning issue time
  • (Usually) Description of the weather pattern, including forecast developments of significant weather systems
  • Description of the threat
  • Action statements
  • Advice of next issue time
What can I do to prepare for severe weather?
Monitor Conditions

In coastal areas, large waves and high tides can lead to coastal erosion and flooding during severe weather.

To help you prepare for Storms this season, visit Get Ready Queensland – Storm.

Disasters and Emergencies