News Geoscience Australia informing improved cyclone preparation on the Gold Coast

Published:19 June 2024

Satellite data showing a cyclone moving across Queensland

When Geoscience Australia produced the latest scientific advice about the risks and potential impacts of severe wind in Southern Queensland, the City of Gold Coast picked up the ball and ran with it.

South East Queenslanders are regularly impacted by damaging winds from thunderstorms and tropical cyclones and know they pose significant risk to people’s lives and property. The City of Gold Coast also knows that understanding this risk is the first step in making changes that can improve safety. That’s why they looked to Geoscience Australia to get the most up-to-date information on severe wind hazard.

Geoscience Australia’s Atmospheric Hazards Team Lead, Craig Arthur, explained that the region has high population density and a major proportion of Queensland’s community infrastructure, with severe storms historically damaging older residential housing.

“In 2020, we produced a Severe Wind Hazard Assessment for the whole of Queensland which analysed the possible consequences of severe tropical cyclones to selected communities across the state,” Mr Arthur said.

“One of the main findings was that the level of risk posed by severe winds was not well understood, and there was only limited research and information available for communities to draw upon when planning strategies for mitigating severe wind risks. The risks in South East Queensland were considered especially high, compared to other regions.”

The natural next step was to produce a Severe Wind Hazard Assessment targeted to South East Queensland.

“For this specific regional assessment, our scientists worked with a number of local government areas to develop an accurate and reliable picture of the level of risk posed by cyclones and severe wind events in the specific area,” Mr Arthur explained.

The assessment improved the understanding of which areas were most at risk and what would be exposed to the risk in those locations.

“We know that local governments have limited budgets so this assessment allows them to really target the improvements that will have the most impact to making their communities safer.

“That’s our role: we make sure that whatever decisions are made, can be made based on robust scientific findings.”

Now, the City of Gold Coast is putting this into action with Program AIR.

“Program AIR is a 5-year initiative that aims to prepare for the impacts of severe wind and tropical cyclone events by focusing on protecting critical infrastructure and services, increasing community readiness and resilience, and safeguarding the Gold Coast way of life,” Chief Executive Officer, City of Gold Coast Tim Baker said.

Mr Baker expanded saying “To achieve this, the City is focusing on three key streams – Advocacy, Information and Resilience (AIR).”

“The key objectives of Program AIR are to advocate for more resilient building design standards in South East Queensland and explore grant funding opportunities for Gold Coast home owners, as well as increase community awareness of the risk of severe wind events.”

“We are working at both a community and individual level and work towards strengthening the resilience of City-owned buildings so they may be used as places of refuge during severe wind and cyclone events in the future,” Mr Baker said.

Mr Arthur spoke enthusiastically about Program AIR and its objectives.

“This is an excellent example of science being put to work to help protect people, property and infrastructure,” he said.

“Geoscience Australia is about putting Earth science to work on the challenges that we face every day, and this is a great example of how that works in practice.”

“We can’t prevent cyclones and thunderstorms from happening, but we can use our expertise to understand how they are likely to affect the areas they hit, and this means that state and local governments can plan.”

The Severe Wind Hazard Assessment for South East Queensland is available here. For more information about Program AIR contact the City of Gold Coast at