Historical Case Studies of Extreme Events: Meteorological Context

Author: NCCARF
Year: 2011

This factsheet provides brief descriptions of each of the meteorological contexts explored in the Historical Case Studies of Extreme Events Project, including: drought, heatwaves, east coast lows, Queensland floods, tropical cyclones, and storm tides. Drought: defined by the Bureau of Meteorology defines drought as a prolonged abnormally dry period when there is not enough water for users normal needs. The long-term effects of drought are examined in two case studies on small inland agricultural and mining communities. Heatwaves – prolonged periods of excessive and unusual heat – occurred in Adelaide and Melbourne of early 2009. The case study examples considered in the case study on the 2008 Queensland floods are examples of riverine flooding. A storm tide occurs when a storm surge coincides with the normal (astronomical) high tide. A series of severe storm tides occurred along Australias east coast from the 1950s-1970s. East Cold Lows (ECLs), such as the Pasha Bulker storm that struck Newcastle in 2007, are intense, relatively small, low-pressure systems associated with high seas, large amounts of very intense rainfall, and high wind speeds (but typically lower than those in a tropical cyclone). A tropical cyclone is an intense low pressure system that forms over tropical or sub-tropical waters, and gains its energy from the warmth of those waters. Cyclone Tracy, which struck Darwin in 1974, was one of Australias most destructive cyclone events.

Download publicationView Resource