What is Severe Weather?

Severe weather can range from isolated thunderstorms with limited range and influence to intense low pressure systems which may affect thousands of square kilometres. (Image courtesy of EMA) 

Severe Weather reproduced with the
permission from EMA

On the Australian continent severe weather can range from isolated thunderstorms to intense low pressure systems affecting thousands of square kilometres. Large scale deep low pressure systems cause widespread flash flooding and gale to storm force winds extending over 400 to 1,000 square kilometres.

Severe weather includes:

  • intense low pressure systems
  • thunderstorms
  • lightning
  • hail
  • storm wind gusts
  • tornadoes.

Severe storms are estimated to cost A$284 million per annum Bureau of Transport and Economics, 2001. This represents one quarter of the average annual cost of natural disasters in Australia. In terms of insured costs, severe storms are responsible for more damage than tropical cyclones, earthquakes, floods or bushfires.

Interesting fact: Synoptic storms are capable of causing the most extensive damage of all severe weather events. The level of damage is generally minor and mainly affects vegetation and structures which are vulnerable due to local acceleration of the wind over the landscape. However the damage is often widespread, affecting hundreds to thousands of square kilometres.

Topic contact: hazards@ga.gov.au Last updated: July 13, 2011