New Zealand, where I hail from, doesn’t see too many cyclones. I remember ‘extra tropical cyclone Bola’ in 1988, and well, that’s about it. Upon learning about the possibility of a cyclone forming off the coast of Townsville this week, I was filled with both anticipation and fear.
What would it be like to sit inside your home and watch the trees bend in-half in the wind, the rain come sheeting in horizontally, the floodwaters rise and isolate entire neighbourhoods, and have a whole day off work (without any power)?
The tropical low (to be named Dylan) was aiming directly for Townsville and was gearing up to be a doozie. The system also coincided with the highest tides in a year, with the storm surge expected to add up to an extra metre in some cases. For much of Townsville, which sits close to sea level, this meant seawater flooding up the stormwater network and estuarine creeks flowing through the central city and surrounding suburbs.
Thankfully, despite all my preparation and accidently leaving the dog outside, Cyclone Dylan passed Townsville by and made landfall south of Bowen. This meant we largely missed out on the wind and rain, with only 37 mm recorded at the Townsville airport. The tides were only moderately affected by the storm surge, with an extra 0.5 m added onto Thursdays 3.9 m king tide. Whilst this meant flooded cars and properties in some areas, along Townsville’s beaches it provided a much needed injection of sand in a modified coastal system often recording a net sand loss.
Now we wait to see what happens with the tropical lows still sitting out there in the coral sea...
The storm surge caused flooding on Boundary Road in South Townsville
View from the Alluvium Townsville office on 30th January 2014 as Cyclone Dylan closes in