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Storm tide inundation incidences

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 (a storm surge) over normal 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 the coast.

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

Coastal ecosystems can be seriously impacted but usually recover naturally. Beneficial effects include sand deposits driven onshore to build up coastal landforms.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor caused a storm surge of 1.8 metres (m) at Burketown, 300 kilometres east of landfall, while Mornington Island recorded a 1.7m surge. Severe Tropical Cyclone Oma caused storm surges of up to 0.88m along the southern Queensland coast with storm tide levels just exceeding the level of highest astronomical tide along much of this coast.

The risks from storm tides have been investigated by most coastal local governments. This information assists with evacuation planning, development assessment and planning.

More information:

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals’ targets


Download data from Queensland Government data


Significant storm tide inundation events for 2018–2020.