Severe weather knowledge centre

Learn about coastal hazards and severe weather including thunderstorms, tornadoes and east coast lows

Photo of several bright lightning strikes in the night sky over the Melbourne city skyline.

Severe weather includes severe thunderstorms, which can bring phenomena including lightning, heavy rainfall, damaging winds and large hail

Storms, coastal hazards and severe weather in Australia

Severe weather can threaten lives and cause significant damage and destruction. It can bring hazardous weather conditions, such as:

  • lightning
  • large hail or giant hail
  • tornadoes
  • very heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding
  • intense rainfall that may lead to flash flooding
  • damaging or destructive winds
  • storm surge, damaging surf and abnormally high tides
  • blizzards in alpine areas.

Severe weather patterns

Typical weather patterns that can lead to severe weather or coastal hazards include:

  • active and recently decayed tropical cyclones moving inland or into southern regions, sometimes interacting with cold fronts
  • monsoon lows producing widespread gales and/or heavy rain in the tropics
  • deep low pressure systems called east coast lows that can form in the Tasman Sea and affect the east coast of Australia
  • vigorous squally cold fronts
  • strong pressure gradients causing land gales – particularly in exposed alpine regions
  • distant tropical cyclones or other low pressure systems producing ocean swells at Australian shores, causing damaging or dangerous surf
  • broad, moist cloudbands extending from the tropics to southern Australia, causing heavy rainfall
  • winds strengthening down the slopes of higher areas. This can cause damaging wind gusts called downslope winds.

East coast lows

Find out how east coast lows form and why they’re dangerous.

Learn about east coast lows


Find out about types of thunderstorms and how they form.

Learn about thunderstorms


Find out about tornadoes in Australia and how they form.

Learn about tornadoes

Tropical severe thunderstorms

Learn about the features of severe thunderstorms in the Australian tropics.

Learn about tropical severe thunderstorms

Severe weather and coastal hazard warning services

Learn about types of warnings, what’s included and where to find safety information.

Learn about severe weather and thunderstorm warnings

Past severe thunderstorms report

Read a selection of reports about past severe thunderstorms in Australia.

Explore past severe thunderstorms


Severe weather warnings

View the National warnings summary.