Blog posts and videos

Learn more about tropical cyclones and the Bureau's tropical cyclone warnings services from our videos and blog posts.

Tropical cyclone videos

Learn more through our videos

Tropical cyclone blogging

Articles about tropical cyclones from the Bureau's blog.

Tropical cyclones: your questions answered

14 May 2020

Tropical cyclones are one of nature's fiercest phenomena, and also one of its most fascinating. The intricacies of these spiralling wind and rain systems are almost enough to make your head spin! Here our meteorologists answer some of your common questions about tropical cyclones.

What causes a tropical low to become a cyclone?

18 October 2019

Eleven tropical cyclones form (on average) in the warm tropical waters around northern Australia each year. They bring with them extraordinary weather, including gale-force winds and heavy rainfall, and can cause serious destruction and devastation. So, how and where do they begin and what's needed for one to 'spin up'?

Know your lows: East Coast Lows (and lookalikes)

22 May 2019

An East Coast Low (ECL) is an intense low pressure system that causes severe weather over much of Australia's eastern seaboard, and the Tasman and Coral seas. ECLs hog the headlines, but where strong low pressure systems in the east are concerned, they're far from the only game in town. So, what exactly is an ECL—and what else is out there?

Record-breaking winds: remembering cyclone Vance

22 March 2019

It's 20 years ago today that severe tropical cyclone Vance tore across Western Australia's Pilbara coast near Exmouth.  Vance still holds the record for the highest wind gust ever recorded on the Australian mainland. So how did this storm evolve from humble beginnings in the Timor Sea near Darwin to become one of Australia's most powerful cyclones?

Explainer: 'bomb cyclones'—the intense winter storms that hit the US (and Australia too)

12 January 2018

The eastern United States experienced a very severe winter storm last week, which caused damaging winds, heavy snow and the highest tide on record for Boston. Meteorologists call this type of storm a 'bomb cyclone', or simply a 'bomb'. But what is it?

How do tropical cyclones get their names?

14 January 2016

Tropical cyclones are named to help with communication about these dangerous storms. Names also raise the profile of the cyclone, heightening public awareness and reducing confusion if multiple cyclones occur at the same time. So, how do cyclones get their names?

Tornado, twister, hurricane, tropical cyclone, typhoon—what's the difference?

05 November 2015

Always wanted to know your tropical cyclones from your typhoons? Your tornadoes from your twisters? It might be simpler than you think.

A look inside the structure of a tropical cyclone

19 November 2012

Over warm tropical oceans, a cluster of thunderstorms can start rotating around a common centre, due to the earth's rotation. If the conditions are just right, this process can sustain itself and create a tropical cyclone. At this stage, the tropical cyclone is like a giant, atmospheric heat engine. The moisture from the warm oceans is its fuel, generating huge amounts of energy.

From sea to shore: a story of storm surges in Australia

02 November 2015

Storm surges are powerful ocean movements caused by wind action and low pressure on the ocean's surface. This raises the sea level and strong winds at the coast that can create large waves, enhancing the impact. These types of events can swamp low-lying areas, sometimes for kilometres inland.

What is a tropical cyclone?

05 November 2015

Tropical cyclones are usually defined as low-pressure systems that form over warm, tropical waters. To an ordinary person, this definition makes them sound almost innocuous, but as anyone who has witnessed a cyclone knows, this is far from the case. They are violent, spiralling wind and rain systems that can wreak havoc at sea and on land, causing extensive flooding and foreshore erosion, wind damage and loss of property and life.

Ahead of the storm: How Australia benefits from global advances in cyclone forecasting

17 December 2014

Tropical cyclone forecasting has come an extremely long way in the four decades since cyclone Tracy – and Australia benefits from some of the best scientific and technological resources in the business.

Tropical cyclones at sea: the ocean below the storm

24 May 2017

Tropical cyclones can have savage effects as they cross the coastline, with the potential for torrential rain, flooding and destructive wind gusts to cause widespread damage to property and infrastructure. But they start life at sea and the interaction between cyclones and the ocean can be just as ferocious.

Tropical cyclones: just for the tropics?

05 April 2017

If you don’t live in Australia’s tropical zone, you might think tropical cyclones need only concern northerners—but it’s not quite as simple as that. While our tropics are most prone to the direct impact of tropical cyclones, they or their effects can be felt as far south as Perth on the west coast, and across the border into New South Wales on the east coast.

After the storm: How cyclone Tracy made meteorologists for life

23 December 2014

Three Bureau forecasters look back on a night that shook up their lives—and left an indelible mark on their careers.

Remembering cyclone Tracy: Lessons from a ‘perfect storm’

10 December 2014

When tropical cyclone Tracy crossed Darwin in the early hours of Christmas Day 1974, thousands of people’s lives were instantly and irrevocably changed—and a new chapter was born in Australian history.

Ingrid's impact - the tropical cyclone that crossed three states

20 November 2012

If you lived in Western Australia you could be forgiven for thinking that a tropical cyclone in Queensland was nothing to worry about. But in March 2005, tropical cyclone Ingrid changed all that. It made the record books by crossing three State and Territory coastlines as a severe tropical cyclone.

George Rutherford and his six cyclones

19 November 2012

The formation of a cyclone or two at one time isn't a far-fetched thought, yet six at one time can be far more than a handful or two.