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Coastal hazards - storm tide inundation

Severe meteorological events such as tropical cyclones are often accompanied by a temporary local rise in sea level known as storm surge. This surge is usually caused by strong onshore winds exerting a stress on the sea surface, which causes water to accumulate against the coast. Additionally, the low atmospheric pressure within the cyclone can allow a small rise in water level.

As a cyclone moves into shallow coastal waters, the nearshore seabed and coastline shape modify the surge and may result in a substantial amplification of its height. When combined with the normally occurring astronomical tide, this phenomenon is referred to as storm tide.

Storm tides can have devastating consequences on coastal communities and the environment, causing dangerous levels of flooding in low-lying coastal areas. The greatest potential for loss of life related to a cyclone is from the associated storm tide. Mitigation measures including prevention and community preparedness can reduce the severity or eliminate this risk. Effective land use planning can limit, and over time, reduce the impacts of storm tide inundation.

The Coastal hazards guideline provides further information about how areas vulnerable to storm tide inundation are identified.

Information on the Queensland government’s storm tide monitoring program is available on the storm tide monitoring program page.

Last updated
15 September 2016