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. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Another difficulty for the government to cope with in the Senate as Lazarus quits PUP.
    Maybe Andrew Robb has done some good with the China FTA.
    Fairfax covers Hockey vs Fairfax.
    Cabinet ministers are scurrying away from Hockey’s thought bubble n super.
    And Greg Jericho explains with typical thoroughness why it is such a harebrained proposition.
    Peter Wicks looks at Baird’s proposal to sell the poles and wires.
    Grattan on Friday looks at another week laden with gaffes.
    The 26 worst things the Liberals did yesterday.
    Stephen Koukoulas – tobacco consumption in Australia continues to plummet after the introduction of plain packaging.

  2. Section 2 . . .

    There are still problems within PM&C over wage negotiations.
    James Massola asks exactly when “good government” starts.
    How to raise a bully.
    We should take the UN report seriously.
    Did Abbott hang up on Andrews or did he have another Mark Riley moment?
    “View from the Street” looks at the stupid things politicians say.
    Alan Moir shows us Abbott’s own lifestyle choices. His depiction years ago of Abbott as the pugnacious Popeye has proved to be prescient.

    Ron Tandberg on Abbott’s position on aborigines.

    Dark work from Mark Knight.

    Abbott’s tumbleweed nation by David Pope.

    Middle East stuff from David Rowe. I can’t get this one.

  3. The PM has found a demographic he had overlooked insulting , the Irish in his St Patrick’s day. Didn’t watch the video but it has been described as patronizing. This is a vid cap from the video. He does look a bit of a goose.

  4. I’ve never listened to Jon Faine before, but because so many of you talk about his program I am giving him a go this morning. Is he always so rude and aggressive or is that just the style he reserves for Labor politicians? I don’t think I’ll bother with him again.

    Bill Shorten seems to be handling him well, I’d have hit in on the mouth by now.

  5. Heh, oh dear, Palmer’s not handling his party well. I wonder how long Dio Wang will last?

    A bit surprising that PUP isn’t running in the NSW election, although that might be down to them missing the deadline for party registration (still pretty sloppy of them).

  6. Palmer did say he would have PUP candidates running in NSW as endorsed independents. It hasn’t happened.

  7. Those cheese eating surrender monkey farmers are the experts. Part of the eventual 70 ton pile of manure dumped outside the French parliament.

  8. I hate when I wake up in the morning to find that another of my heroes has died. Last month it was Leonard Nimoy, earlier this week it was Stuart Wagstaff, and this morning I find out that Terry Pratchett has departed.

    As PTerry himself said “So much universe, and so little time.”

  9. Terry Pratchett was very angry that he was losing his grip on his intellectual life as he struggled with Alzheimers, so I hope he has found peace

  10. Everyone always rants about cancer being a horrible illness, but to me Alzheimers is much worse.

  11. Leone

    Faine is always like that when interviewing any Labor person. I thought Shorten did very well against the badgering. As usual all the LNP shills were primed to text and call in, because Faine said yesterday that Shorten was going to be on. I dislike Faine, but use his show as a way of finding out the lnp talking points.

  12. The head of the No Land Tax party sounds like a nutter who has a shed full of axes to grind and wants power.

    From The Oz –

    Ballot paper position ensures a good chance for former union man

    A FORMER union activist and ex-ALP member nicknamed “Mr Blue” has become the wildcard in the NSW election after his anti-land tax party took the top spot in the upper house ballot paper.

    Peter Jones, the No 1 candid­ate for the No Land Tax Party, not only stands a chance of winning a seat and holding the balance of power after the election, but could also conceivably influence results in the lower house.

    Mr Jones, whose wife was once a Labor candidate but is also on the No Land Tax Party’s ticket, says the members of his party would prefer Premier Mike Baird to win the election, and he would respect the Liberal mandate to sell the electricity businesses if the government was returned.

    He said he was in negotiation with the major parties about preferences, but gave an undertaking that the party would not give preferences to Labor or the Greens.

    However, given his party’s tax stance, he is likely to draw a small but possibly significant number of votes from the Coalition, particularly if he chooses to advocate voters not to allocate preferences.

    No 2 on the party’s ticket is Pat Carbone, a former friend of Labor powerbroker Joe Tripodi who led a group opposed to a Tripodi-aligned group’s plans to develop the Calabria Community Club.

    What makes Mr Jones’s negoti­ating position particularly strong is that the No Land Tax Party is running in all 93 lower house seats, indicating an unusual degree of organisation and reach for a micro-party. It costs about $29,000 to nominate in every seat and in the upper house.

    Running in every seat can maximise a party’s upper house result, although it’s unclear how many booths the party can staff on March 28. Many candidates’ addresses were not in the seat they nominated, raising questions about the effectiveness of their campaigns.

    If Mr Jones can secure a spot on the major parties’ how-to-vote cards, his chances of winning the 21st and last position in the upper house will improve drama­tically.

    Glenn Druery, the preference broker credited with getting the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir elected to the Senate with 0.5 per cent of the vote, said the No Land Tax Party stood a better chance than any other micro-party of winning a spot, althoug­h the Animal Justice Party was also a possibility.

    Mr Jones took an unfair dismissal case against the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union, after falling out with the head of the CEPU’s postal workers’ branch, Jim Metcher, who accused him of working against his re-election.

    Previously, Mr Jones — known in union circles as “Mr Blue’’ because of his fondness for blue shirts — had been Mr Metcher’s long-time chief political operative and numbers man.

    In 2007, senator Stephen Conroy accused him of “engineering electoral fraud” by organising people to collect ballot papers from unionists’ homes, despite a warning from the Australian Electoral Commission.

    Mr Jones said he had been a whistleblower inside the union and his advice to anyone contemplating that was: “Don’t do it.”

    In 1998, he was accused of ALP branch-stacking and involvement in a postal union election when Liberal party mem­ber Quentin Cook tried to run.

    In parliament, Liberal MLC John Ryan said: “It has been proven in court that the result was manip­ulated, and that one of the manipulators was this person called Peter Jones … the padding of the electoral roll is Mr Jones’s indisputable signature.”


    Our local No Land Tax candidate, a Paul Grasso, lives in Fivedock, in Sydney. I don’t think he will do well here, the locals don’t like voting for people from ‘away’, especially not if they have woggy sounding names.

  13. Grand Prix followers should be pleased to know that attendance is down this year, if street parking around here is any indication.

    Just collected a new pair of sunglasses because the lenses on the old ones crazed. the information pamphlet advises not storing sunglasses in hot places like your car on a hot day. Do you think the sunglass technology is fit for purpose in Australian conditions?

  14. No Land Tax Party

    Could it be funded by the hopeful buyers of the NSW electricity transmission grid?

  15. State politics: does it really really matter these days?
    They all have to go cap in hand to Canberra for real money on infrastructure. They all have to respond to Canberra cuts to health and education and science. In the end, for the big stuff, they are all behoven to the national Government.
    Yes, they have to manage budgets,local councils,loren nora, and make sure the trains and busses and trams work.
    Baird or Foley? It matters less than it once did.
    And that’s a pity given the excruciating leadership in Canberra from Mr Bean.

  16. FTA – new added benefits clause included – has to be in return for something – hmmmm

  17. Faine is tough on all pollies. Probably the least biased interviewer on radio.

    Remember, he was reprimanded for pointing out the Gillard innuendo campaign was a load of tripe.

  18. Any of you tech-saavy guys tell me how to convert a document scanned as an image (jpeg?/Gif?) on a Brother multi-function device over to a “Word document” ?…would much appreciate it..

  19. Silly Abbott wanting to look a bit of a Greenie with his green tie. Not really interested in the Irish. He had to mention the English amongst others. He couldn’t solely make it an Irish Day. Abbott allways wants to offend.

  20. jaycee

    Just save the scan, then open the image and copy and paste into the Word document?

  21. Bananas making more friends in Indonesia

    Indonesia has rebuked Australia for telling the media it had offered to pay the cost of two drug traffickers’ life imprisonment if they were spared from the death penalty.

    Details of Australian offers to spare Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, including correspondence between the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, and her Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, were published on Thursday.

    The men were sentenced to death for their roles in the so-called Bali Nine heroin smuggling plot in 2005.

    Bishop’s earlier offer of a prisoner exchange deal was rejected and she is now awaiting a response on an offer to cover the cost of the life imprisonment of Chan and Sukumaran.
    Asked about the offer on Thursday, an Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir, said the matter was not open for negotiation.

    “I want to stress that it is not a matter of negotiation as has been said by the president and the foreign minister,” he told reporters in Jakarta. “This is a matter of law enforcement.”

    He was also keen to keep diplomatic correspondence on the subject private.

    “Official communication between governments, especially between foreign ministers or between two heads of state, as diplomacy or relationship between two countries, ethically, is something secret in nature,” he said.

    “That’s why Indonesia would never reveal the content of a letter or communication between two ministers or two heads of state.

    “We regret when friendly countries do their diplomacy through the media.”


  22. WA knows how to do cyclones. Everyone gets a go. Cyclone Olwyn is predicted to track along the coast all the way to Perth.

  23. Tried that CTar’…but it still opens as a PDF document and as such, I cannot edit !

  24. Was told I have to download a “OCR software” thingo…but they want a fortune for that..and as it is an older model scanner…?…Are there any sources of free downloads for OCR?

  25. Damn! This diagram shows that the cyclone that’s just off the far north Qld coast, is feeding into, and most definitely, increasing the severity of Cyclone Pam, that’s in the process of giving Vanuatu a hell of a belting.

    There’s definitely some very strange things happening to our climate.

    [ CARE Australia’s program director in Port Vila, Inga Mepham, said Pam could likely be the worst cyclone to have ever struck Vanuatu.

    “At least half the population is going to be impacted or have the cyclone go right over them, and the rest are going to be impacted severely. ]


  26. kaffeeklatscher,

    [ WA knows how to do cyclones. Everyone gets a go. Cyclone Olwyn is predicted to track along the coast all the way to Perth. ]

    That’s your way, isn’t it? And it looks like it is following Fiona’s DD down there from Barrow Island.

    Batten down the hatches people & stay safe!

  27. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/politics-news/glenn-lazarus-quits-palmer-united-party/story-fn59nqld-1227260738558 no paywall

    http://www.afr.com/p/national/glenn_lazarus_defection_leaves_clive_9MUTVM8kpA82lGVzZcX0fI no paywall




    If you look at https://twitter.com/redrabbleroz other tweets from last night, there is more

  28. What? No offer of another position?

    The secretary of the agriculture department, Dr Paul Grimes, has been sacked because there was “no realistic prospect” he could have a “relationship of strong mutual confidence” with his minister, Barnaby Joyce.

    Grimes took unexpected leave last Friday after his request for an extraordinary Senate committee hearing to provide information “highly pertinent” to a long-running saga involving changes to Hansard by Joyce.

    In a statement Joyce said Grimes was “standing down as secretary” after a report from the secretary of the department of prime minister and cabinet, Michael Thawley – with which Grimes had agreed – “that a relationship of strong mutual confidence between the secretary and myself was not a realistic prospect”.


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