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Storm tide inundation

Key finding

Storm tide inundations continue to impact the coast.

Storm tide inundation or coastal flooding by the sea is caused by an abnormal elevation of the sea level over expected tide levels. Severe weather events, including cyclones in central and northern Queensland and east coast lows in southern Queensland, typically cause storm tides. Queensland’s coast is vulnerable to storm tide inundation as low sandy landforms dominate much of the coast.

Storm tides can be destructive for human settlements. Large areas of major urban centres Cairns, Townsville and Mackay are at risk of storm tide inundation.

Coastal ecosystems can be seriously impacted but usually recover naturally. Sand deposits driven onshore can build up coastal landforms.

The effects of Cyclone Debbie and its aftermath caused the largest inundation by storm tide in Queensland in 2016-2017. The cyclone made landfall near Airlie Beach on 28 March 2017. Laguna Quays recorded the highest storm tide level at 0.91m above the highest astronomical tide.  Large waves and high-water levels seriously affected communities including Midge Point and Shute Harbour.

The risks from storm tides have been investigated for most coastal areas. This information assists with evacuation planning and development regulations.

More information:

Indicator: Coastal hazards — storm tide inundation incidences

Major storm tide inundation for 2012–2017.

Download data from Queensland Government data

Last updated 14 July 2020