Severe windstorms and thunderstorms can occur anywhere in Australia, and do so more than any other major natural emergency.
Severe storms occur at any time of the year and can cause flash flooding, landslip and lightning strikes, disrupt communities through the loss of income, injury, life, property damage, agricultural and stock losses, and cause disruption to major services such as electricity and water.
Some storms may be more localised, that is, they may occur in one area such as the northern area of the Shire, or they may be larger in scale and occur across the entire Shire.
Severe storms can cause trees and branches to fall across roads and railway lines, on people, cars, and buildings; flash floods can block roads and wash cars and people away; large hail can cause damage to cars and property; and lightning can strike people, buildings, trees and power lines.
There are a number of factors we recommend you consider when preparing for severe storms:
Severe storm categories
Severe storms can occur in two categories, severe thunderstorms and windstorms, and each carries a high risk of personal injury and sometimes death.
A severe thunderstorm is usually a short-lived storm over a small area and is characterised by any of the following:
- heavy rain resulting in flash flooding
- lightning strikes and thunder
- large hail stones
- destructive wind gusts, or
Windstorms can affect large areas and can last for up to three days. They are characterised by winds of 62 kilometre per hour and greater.
For more information about severe storm categories visit the Bureau of Meteorology website.
Weather reports and storm warnings
Storm warnings are advised through ABC radio, news, internet and the Bureau of Meteorology.Severe thunderstorms usually last for an hour over an area of only 10 kilometres, therefore making it challenging to issue a timely severe thunderstorm warning (in most cases the warnings are quite short with only a 20-minute lead time). It is still a good idea to keep track of weather forecasts and warnings.
If a storm warning is issued for your area you can receive up-to-date information from the Bureau of Meteorology or ABC Radio also provides weather forecasts for Victoria.
What to do before, during and after a severe storm
Severe storms are challenging to predict, so it is unlikely that you will receive warnings in time to prepare appropriately. It is therefore better to ensure you are prepared ahead of time, for example, having an emergency kit ready at all times will ensure you and your family have supplies in case a severe storm causes disruption to your power, or access to and from your property.
Be aware that severe storms use up many local resources, and the best thing for you and your family, is to be responsible for your safety. While the SES will eventually attend to your requests, there will be many people all requiring assistance also. If you are well prepared for severe storms, you will feel less stressed.
Before – prevent and prepare
Prevent- You cannot prevent a storm occurring; however, there are things you can do to reduce the impact of a severe storm on you and your family.
Make sure your property is generally tidy, for example, don’t leave gardening tools outside after use, clean guttering and downpipes frequently, ensure tree branches are trimmed.
Prepare- You will need to develop a well thought out personal emergency plan; involve everyone who lives in the house and make sure you all agree on the plan. Understand the nature and history of storms in your area, and stay alert for storm warnings.
Make sure your emergency kit is up to date, check 'use by' dates on food and bottled water, replace if necessary. Check that you have adequate insurance cover for your home and contents.
During – respond
When you receive a warning make sure you prepare your property as per the warning. Make sure your emergency kit is easy to find and maybe contact friends and family to tell them where you are. Stay indoors while the storm is passing through.
After – recover
Whether you or your community have been directly affected by a storm, you may require assistance afterwards. Many services are available to you depending on the severity of the storm; you can call Council on (03) 5494 1200 for information on those services.