Do you know what to do when a Cyclone Warning or Cyclone Watch is issued? Because of their potential to cause harm to people, buildings and surrounding structures, the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology will issue a watch or a warning. The aim of watches and warnings is to prompt residents into action that will keep them safe.
If you live in an area that cyclones may affect, it is important that you understand the difference between the two so you are prepared. Typically, the differences are:
Usually, a watch means there is a threat of a cyclone within that set period. When this happens, the watch alerts occur every six hours until the threat dissipates. If there is a need to issue a warning, the frequency of updates increases to every three hours. Overall, the aim is to get the message out quickly and to give local residents the chance to prepare.
The amount of information you will receive depends on where you live, the threat level, and the category (power) of the cyclone. However, it can include:
Your information may also include a map, allowing you to determine how close you are to the cyclone's most destructive area.
Watches give you more time to prepare so that you can minimise cyclone damage and keep yourself and your family safe. Make it a habit to keep prepared, especially during the Wet Season, so that you're ready for a cyclone before it appears. If you're in the midst of a watch, you should:
Your cyclone watch alert is your chance to prepare. Make the most of it.
Warnings mean that threats and danger are imminent. Therefore, it's time to take action. If a warning occurs, you may want to:
When or if a cyclone does hit, its severity will determine your next actions. While some may find their local emergency services evacuate them, others will have to move themselves to the safest points of their homes to remain safe until rescue arrives. Staying away from windows, remaining in hallways, or sheltering in bathrooms is advisable.
Finally, if the cyclone does arrive, don't venture outdoors until the authorities give the all clear. Minimise the use of mobile phones and preserve them for checking on updates. Remember, a drop in the wind may just indicate that the eye of the cyclone is passing over your area and winds could very quickly pick back up.
Always remember that preparation and common sense are key. If you are unsure whether it is safe to leave your home, wait for the professionals to provide advice.