What Does A Category 5 Cyclone REALLY Feel Like?

Scorpio put up two comments today that I thought had the makings of a terrific (in every sense) thread-starter, so I asked his permission. He agreed, then sent me some images, then some more words, and then – being the absolute gentleman he is – sent me the final product.

This is it.

And, Scorps, as Janice has already told you, writing about this kind of experience is cathartic – and I know Mrs Scorpio is in a position to make sure all of you get appropriate support if needed.

My very best wishes, and thanks.

(Image Credit: Brisbane Times)

This is a brief history of Cyclone Marcia and my experience of it.

Right up to late Friday night, the Weather Bureau were predicting that the recently developed category 1 cyclone would most likely further develop and hit the coast as a category 2 somewhere between St Lawrence and Double Island Point.

Then about 11.30pm they suddenly upgrade it to a category 5 monster. They advised everyone in St Lawrence to evacuate and head to the Cyclone shelter at Yeppoon. I don’t think the idiots at the Disaster Coordination Centre had any idea of how far it was from St Lawrence to Yeppoon (especially in the middle of the night with severe weather already hitting the region), and as it happened, the cyclone changed course, missing St Lawrence by a hundred kilometres and landed closer to Yeppoon.

Talk about asking people to jump out of the pan into the fire. It landed in the Shoalwater Bay area just north of Yeppoon and headed straight for Rockhampton. Because people in the predicted path were expecting at most, a category 2 cyclone that would quickly drop to a category 1 after landfall, (nowhere near as big a threat and less preparation needed) which would not be expected to be overly destructive or dangerous, we weren’t overly concerned. The concern grew as each update came through and it became evident that it was heading straight for us and it was a monster. There was no sleep that night.

As it moved over land, it slowed somewhat and lost some of its ferocity but caused tremendous damage as it moved ever closer to the city. Not long after we started to feel the increasing fury of the wind and vertical rain hitting the exposed windows like bullets (mixed with shredded leaves, branches and even grass) the power went off. All we could do once it hit, was sit tight in a safe part of the house and hope that the house wasn’t breached and explode like a bomb from the wind entering through the breach and blowing it apart. The other worry was the huge Racehorse tree at the front of the house.

This tree had quite a lean towards the house and has been of concern to me as a threat to the house during recent severe storm events. During the cyclone this became more so as some of the gusts, as the eye moved ever closer to us, were truly ferocious and this tree, which towered over the house was bending right over the roof line

I thought we were gone if it let go, which it must with this much force being applied to it. I moved everything valuable and precious away from that side of the house and waited with my daughters (Mrs Scorpio was at work) for the inevitable craaash!

A particularly fierce gust hit the house with a roar. The next thing there was this loud crashing sound over the roar of the storm and we looked out to see a huge branch had broken off the tree and had landed parallel with the front of the house. In the process of falling, it took out two pencil cedars and two palm trees and the foliage just brushed the rear of my daughter’s Suzuki Jimmy.

If it wasn’t for the larger of the pencil cedars holding the branch from rolling over, it would have crushed the car and damaged the house. The top foliage just brushed my neighbour’s vehicle, too. This tree is 2.5 metres circumference at the base and the branch which broke off, would be about 1.8 metres in circumference and when still attached to the tree, towered over my roof line on a two storied house. It landed about 4 metres away from where it broke off.

I have wanted to be rid of it for a long time but I would have had to get a permit from the Council to remove it and we were quoted in excess of $2,000 to have it removed. Beyond our financial ability, unfortunately.

We will still have to pay to get the remainder removed and now, as well as that, there are two towering trees at the rear that will have to have their remains removed. I’m unsure about my relationship with my neighbours at the back and on one side now, as they had quite some damage due to falling branches in their properties from MY trees.

I was doing well for the first part of the cyclone with branches breaking off and landing in the neighbour’s yards, but when the eye passed over and the wind came from the other direction, a pile of weakened branches landed in huge piles in my own back yard with some extras from the next street behind me.

The actual event is terrifying enough to go through, but I think what hits you the most is looking outside and seeing all that destruction and realising that the world as you knew it for so long and felt so comfortable in is now gone forever.

The reminder is there every time you look out your windows or venture outside and go anywhere and see the havoc that is everywhere you go. Footpaths still piled up with broken and shattered trees, piles of water damaged personal belongings and smashed remains of parts of their houses and fences.

Something that helps in dealing with the shock of the experience and aftermath is realising how fortunate you are that you and your family survived at least physically unscathed, and that you didn’t suffer major damage to your house and personal treasures like many others did.

We had no electricity for eight days (there are still some waiting to get reconnected) You get a shock when you find out that your 2-burner gas cooker that was lovingly stored won’t work, but are thankful that a neighbour lends you a single burner and four cans of gas. Fortunately, my neighbour didn’t need it (his solar panels survived and he shared a generator with his brother). We used it sparingly because stocks of pressure pack burners and replacement cans became available the day we got the electricity back on.

The first three days after the cyclone we had maximum temperatures of 40C, 39.5C, and 39C, which meant that the keeping capacity of fridges and freezers was severely curtailed and food was spoiling faster than you could eat it. Once ice was available, it was not very cold, and because so many people were getting it at the same time it was already partly melted and didn’t last very long in your eskys.

The only benefit from the high temperatures was the cold showers weren’t all that cold, but it was murder trying to sleep with no aircon or fans. Night time was weird and confronting to some degree, for when you blew out the candles, it was the darkest of dark. No street lights, no lights to speak of from neighbouring houses, and no moon and star light getting through the thick cloud cover. Scary black.

Over the years, I’ve seen numerous accounts of people who expressed a wish to experience what it is like to live through a cyclone. A few who have done so have recorded that it was a stupid wish on their part and that it was a far more terrifying experience than they ever imagined it could be. All the ones that I have read about have been category 1 or 2 storms. I wonder how they would have handled a category 5 one.

Having been through a number of cyclones previously when I lived in Proserpine and further north in Cairns, I was surprised that, when the eye of the cyclone passed over us, it was still cloudy with occasional mild gusts of wind in between the stillness that is common.

As the cyclone passed over again, the wind gusts increased quite ferociously and then gradually tapered off until when the last of the northern part of the cyclone had passed, we even saw an odd patch of blue sky and the wind dropped enough to allow people to wander outside to inspect the damage. Some stupid people even tried to drive around to gawk but most of the roads were closed due to fallen trees and power poles and lines down everywhere.

The supermarkets in the area were victims of the power failure (over 60,000 premises lost power) and any remaining frozen and refrigerated foodstuffs spoiled and had to be thrown out. Altogether, there would have been many tons wasted. Most households would have lost much of their foodstuffs, and because of the hot conditions after, most fruit and vegetables in households and stores also spoiled.

Two supermarkets (yeah, Colesworth) were able to re-open after a few days with portable power and moderately restock from the north, and the iceworks got up and running with portable power. The demand for ice was huge and there was a two hour or more wait in line at the only two petrol stations for fuel (mostly needed for chainsaws to help clear the fallen trees everywhere).

When you experience something like this, you appreciate it when things get somewhat back to normal and you realise just how much of the comforts and convenience you miss when they are no longer available. Life is full of challenges and this provided the people of Capricornia with one that they are overcoming together by helping each other as best they can.

Good old Aussie mateship!

658 thoughts on “What Does A Category 5 Cyclone REALLY Feel Like?

  1. Kaffeeklatscher,

    She is mightily pissed off.

    The rest of her team left yesterday evening. Because she is the pressure checking “expert”, however, and the well’s pressure test hadn’t be done, the client wanted her to stay until the test was finished (all clear), by which time her plane had gone and the airport, not surprisingly, has been closed today.

    These companies certainly get their pound of flesh and then some out of their junior employees.

  2. Seeing as how Marn Fersn has been mentioned – I saw this yesterday. I wasn’t going to post it because it’s very OTT and I’m sick top death of and don’t agree with the ridiculous, constant Catholic agenda/Catholic bashing that keeps cropping up, in this and just about everywhere else, but it does make a valid point by comparing Krudd and Marn.

    Martin Ferguson and Kevin Rudd are both turncoats, traitors and now self-proclaimed agents-provocateurs trying to do the bidding for the Baird government. Talk about hypocrisy…


    And it has this link –
    Martin Ferguson slams NSW union ‘misinformation’ campaign on poles and wires

    Some old stories for background.
    Abbott’s teary farewell to Marn –

    A load of bulldust from Mungo –

  3. Just watched an old episode of First Tuesday Book Club (or whatever it is called).

    One of the participants was Sandra Yates. She used the words “omnivorous” (in reading books) and “snotty” in the same sentence. What a woman!

  4. Nathan, Olwyn and Pam.

    Just a taste of what climate change has in store I fear.

    Hoping your DD can stay out of harms’s way, Fiona.

  5. I blame Labor for the perpetuation of the myth of Howard’s ‘brilliant’ economic management, and Krudd in particular.

    Beazley, as LOTO, should have addressed the lies, but didn’t have the stomach to do that. Some old fear of mentioning Keating or some such rubbish, I believe.

    Labor should have dealt with the myth in December 2007 and should have kept on trashing it. Instead they just let it go. Krudd was too busy sucking up to the Liberal Party and appointing failed ministers to cushy posts to be interested in getting the truth out there.

    Now we are stuck with it. It doesn’t matter how manytimes you bring up the truth, the figures, the statistics, it’s now accepted fact – Howard was a brilliant economic manager, interest rates are always lower under a Coalition governtment, only the Coalition can look after the economy.

    I just hope that another Hokey budget will be the myth slayer.

  6. Thank you everyone.

    I’m sure she will be fine – physically.


    About to leave Lothlorien.

  7. Fiona

    They sure do. On the plus side she’ll rack up a few brownie points with the company. Earmuffs on to get some sleep.

    The senior staff can also cop some crap. Years ago a large cyclone was bearing down on a Rankin A. Due to helicopter probs not everyone could be evacuated. The left behind the “staff” the senior people.

    A noble sacrifice as they were not sure if Rankin A could handle that strength of storm. I think it was still “leaning” at the time.

  8. This idea of allowing first home buyers to access super is one of the dumbest ideas ever. The big winners will be vendors and real estate agents.
    The fact that the Tories are actually thinking about this shows that they are either stupid or crooked (how many Liberal MPs own real estate?)

  9. I have two experiences of cyclones.

    This one http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/max.shtml. I was ensconced in a concrete building in Darwin so no problems at all.

    The other one was on a cruise ship coming across the Tasman (1975). Not a big one but enough so that 9 off 10 didn’t turn up for breakfast. The eerie part was being in the eye: absolute calm and no noise.

  10. As PJW said this morning – or was it yesterday? – the COALition just doesn’t “get” superannuation.

    Any more than they “get” climate change, indigenous Australians, people who really need the welfare safety net, and I could go on and on but we are all more than capable of adding to the list of stuff they just don’t understand.

  11. Also I can’t believe I haven’t commented on the title post but wow, Scorpio, that was a terrible, horrifying ordeal and I’m glad that you got through it. And it really opened my eyes that most of the problems come afterwards with the infrastructure knocked out, and that it can be a long-term thing too.

    I was frightened about the prospect of a cyclone hitting Townsville when I lived there from 2000-2004. None did hit, but there was a terrible monsoon that hit in 2004, and that was bad enough.

    But it’s good to hear that in this day and age, what with constant stories and claims that society seems to be breaking down and becoming more selfish and insular, that people still do pull together after disasters.

  12. A lot of nonsense has been talked about how the movie of The Lord of the Rings was a very bad imitation of the book.

    I disagree. I read the book first and am glad I did. Apart from leaving out Tom Bombadil the film was true to the book.

    Cate Blanchett’s role got some stick as well. I don’t know why.

    I fear The Hobbit may not be good.

    Someone pointed out that the film of LotR covered 10 pages of the book in one minute and that TH covered half-a-page in one minute.

  13. Fight in progress

    The consortium that was charged with building the East West Link toll road has drawn down $475 million from its financiers since the contract was signed, the Victorian Government says.

    The figure is the first confirmation of the amount the consortium may have spent on the cancelled road project.

    However, it is still unclear whether the consortium has spent the full amount or what compensation it is seeking from the Victorian Government.


    7.5 did a bit on this. There was a suggestion that Parliament could legislate for that compensation letter to be illegal. Apparently, investors are horrified. 😆 😆 😆

  14. The fix is in. I wonder if he got the Gillian Triggs option

    The secretary of the agriculture department, Dr Paul Grimes, is expected to leave his job on Friday after an unexpected absence following his request for an extraordinary Senate committee hearing to provide information “highly pertinent” to a long-running saga involving his minister, Barnaby Joyce.

    Grimes is the second agriculture department head to leave under the Abbott government after the Coalition sacked his predecessor Andrew Metcalfe upon taking office.

    Guardian Australia revealed this week that the prime minister’s department contacted Grimes “a number of times” after he requested the extraordinary Senate committee hearing to provide information about a controversy involving changes to the Hansard .


  15. Ducky,

    That side (aka “compensation”) letter strikes me as being seriously shonky.

    I’m sure others more learned than moi in the mysterious ways in which governments move could comment further.

    CTar, are you about?

  16. Babbage is a respected name in computers and calculators. Hockey not so much

  17. Fiona,

    I think it may have been written during the caretaker (joke!) period.

  18. It’s great to see Dan Andrews coming out to stick it to Abbott today. That letter was brilliant and that revelation that Abbott had another ‘Mark Riley’ moment on the phone should raise a few eyebrows.

    While it is a bit tiresome seeing the Liberals constantly bitch about the E-W link, if they keep it up until the next election, after Andrews has just got on with the job of governing, his government will probably be returned with a swing toward it.

    The project’s already revealed to be a con and an economic disaster with nasty tolls kept secret from voters, so it just beggars belief that the Liberals are still throwing a tantrum about it.

  19. Kirsdarke,

    Implications for 2016 Federal election in Victoria.

    Tony Abort is burning all of his bridges at a great rate.

  20. Sarah Henderson gorn?

    Andrew Robb gorn??

    Even better, Frydenberg gorn???

    (yeah yeah, wishful thinking)

  21. I naow, Ducky, I naow.

    However, many more doctors’ husbands and wives need to vote with moi to achieve that desired end.

  22. At this rate, the Liberals will be lucky to hold more than 5 seats in Melbourne (the obligatory blue-ribbon Goldstein, Higgins, Kooyong, Flinders, Menzies), although if Abbott’s still in, even one of those might switch.

  23. Kirsdarke,

    Flinders isn’t an obligatory blue-ribbon, and the previous and present pretenders cannot be regarded as stellar representatives.

  24. I also realise it’s very wishful thinking on my part to hope that the COALition might lose its grip on Kooyong.

    Almost as sweet, however, would be to see young master Frydenberg reduced to preferences from a range of maniacs.

  25. @Fiona

    Ah, I thought since Flinders contained all the posh Mornington Peninsula suburbs that it’d be pretty unlikely to fall to Labor any time soon. Hopefully I’m wrong about that.

  26. Kirsdarke,

    I wouldn’t want to flag Flinders as even a possible for the ALP, but it does have west-side Westernport towns that aren’t exactly thriving at the moment.

    Also, a lot of the “locals” on the Melbourne side of the bay are more likely enrolled in their eastern/south-eastern electorates.

    We shall see what we shall see.

  27. Cyclone Olwyn has passed Barrow Island.

    DD will probably be back in Perth sometime tomorrow.

  28. Tlbd,
    Yep, house prices would balloon. It’s year 11 or 12 economics: more money available with no change in supply means prices rise.
    Either the Liberal don’t know this, or they do and are trying to get this result. I don’t know which is worse.

  29. AJ,

    This is one of the rare occasions where I am prepared to suggest that ignorance is slightly less dangerous than deliberate manipulation.

  30. “I fear The Hobbit may not be good”

    it wasn’t. It should have been just one movie. Stretching one not very big book out to make three long movies was ridiculous. Too long drawn out, and with a pointless female ‘warrior maiden’ character added just so there could be a girl. I didn’t mind the first movie, but I had my doubts about how Peter Jackson would be able to stretch what was left out to make two more installments. It just didn’t work. The second movie was tedious, not even the very dishy Richard Armitage helped make it bearable. I couldn’t be bothered with the third movie, from all reports it was boring as….just one long battle with very dodgy special effects.

    Don’t waste your time seeing it. Just re-read the book.

  31. The Liberals like high house prices. Remember during Howard’s time someone asked him what he was going to do about the sky-rocketing house prices at the time? His reply was –
    “I haven’t found anybody stopping me in the streets, shaking their fists and saying John, I’m angry that the value of my house has gone up,”

    Howard eventually came to see there was a problem, but there wasn’t much his government could do to fix it.

  32. Sadly for me, the best bits of the third Hobbit movie were the teeny-tiny cameos of Billy Connolly as Dain of the Iron Hills.

    There is some justification to consider the first three movies as merely a different telling of the “end of the Third Age of Middle Earth” by a different hand than Prof. Tolkien. I can go with that.
    But sad to say, though I enjoyed the three Hobbit movies for their choice of actors, it was more in the ‘fan-fiction’ class of writing at times, (enjoyable for sheer awfulness *G*) and yet more evidence that sometimes writers/directors should have the fortitude to tell the accountants where to go jump.

  33. At this rate, the Liberals will be lucky to hold more than 5 seats in Melbourne (the obligatory blue-ribbon Goldstein, Higgins, Kooyong, Flinders, Menzies), although if Abbott’s still in, even one of those might switch.

    I think that McMillan might be a seat to watch, especially if Broadbent decides to retire.

  34. The NE has done it again.

    Australian PM criticised for ‘patronising’ St Patrick’s Day message

    Preparations for St Patrick’s Day events in Australia turned controversial today with the prime minister Tony Abbott’s video message to Irish ex-pats being called ‘patronising’, and Sinn Féin taking legal action over its exclusion from the Perth parade.
    The Melbourne-based Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce and the Lansdowne Club in Sydney are both holding sold-out St Patrick’s Day business lunches on Friday, with close to 1,000 people attending each event, but Australian Mr Abbott is unable to attend either function.
    Instead he has made a St Patrick’s Day message video which has been posted on the Liberal Party’s YouTube site.

    An Irish businessman in Australia, who has seen the video, says the prime minister’s message is “patronising”


  35. Curioz,

    I was extremely reluctant to watch the movies of the book – The Lord of the Rings had been and still is a precious work for me.

    Due to my daughter’s insistence, I did watch the first two films, but haven’t viewed the last.

    Sheer laziness.

    I have no intention of watching The Hobbit, for obvious reasons.

  36. Leone – OH and I planned to see the third Hobbit movie at Christmas, but we didn’t get around to it.
    I’m hoping the “Extended Edition” box set will fill in some of the gaps (or edit out the crappy bits.) Three movies was stretching it – and the additional material – too far; two movies would have been better.

    Compromises are to be expected with any film adaptation, especially one with Wallywood holding the purse strings… LOTR was the same: edit out Legolas shield-surfing, and you’re nearly there.

  37. Sadly for me, the best bits of the third Hobbit movie were the teeny-tiny cameos of Billy Connolly as Dain of the Iron Hills.

    Spoilers! 😉

  38. Did anyone else see 7:30 tonight?
    The story on Melbournes east-west link was truly one of the most pathetic attempts at journalism I’ve ever seen.
    Why did that useless reporter try and badger Daniel Andrews for saying that the contract wasn’t worth the paper it was written on yet they allowed the former treasurer, the man responsible for signing such a irresponsible contract, a free kick in criticising the ALP govt.
    Given that the former treasurer obviously put himself up for comment why was it be beyond a reporter at what is apparently one of Australia’s leading news shows to ask him the simple question of why he signed such an appalling contract in the first place which could cost Victorian taxpayers over a billion dollars?
    Seriously, How far has that show degenerated when I can get more detailed and fair analysis and reporting from ABC3 news. A news programme aimed at children.

  39. Spoilers! 😉

    P.S. Never let Americans near anything with suspense.

    It’s bad enough having “next time” spoilers – “in this season” spoilers are taking the piss! 😦
    They didn’t do “next week, Joffrey dies!” spoilers, so why trash 8-10 weeks of ratings?
    (“Too popular to be axed – but we can fix that…”?)

  40. Further on the NSW election, I have a suspicion that the No Land Tax party might be Glenn Druery’s latest pet project for microparty influence. And since it has the number 1 position on the upper house ballot, as well as a candidate in all 93 lower house seats, it might end up with a seat in the upper house. Hopefully not at the expense of the good guys

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