Australia is affected by extreme weather throughout the year, with electrical storms being the most common natural hazard as well as causing the most damage (in terms of insurance costs).
Tropical cyclones are not as frequent in comparison, primarily occurring within the official Australian cyclone season that runs from November to April.
There are numerous ways to prep your home in order to stay safe and protected when these extreme weather events hit your area. Understanding these weather events and prepping your home goes along way to minimising the amount of damage that may occur.
How Are Tropical Cyclones Formed?
The formation of a tropical cyclone is dependent upon several factors. The first is water temperature of at least 26.5°C, to a depth of at least 50m, is required to create an unstable atmosphere that can maintain convection and thunderstorms for a long period of time.
A tropical depression or tropical storm is required before a cyclone can develop, as cyclones do not form spontaneously but rather develop from pre-existing storms.
The power of a tropical cyclone comes from the heat created by condensation, so a rapid decrease in temperature combined with height is another factor.
A large amount of moisture is fundamental to fuelling the storm; so high humidity is essential, as can be found in the tropics and north, northwest and northeastern parts of Australia.
Tropical cyclones generally need to be at least 555km away from the equator in order for the Coriolis effect to facilitate the circulation within the cyclone.
This is how a cyclone forms and why there is so much ferocity behind one when it hits land.
What Causes Electrical Storms?
Electrical storms, also known as thunderstorms, most frequently occur throughout Australia, particularly in Queensland and Western Australia.
The initial stage of a thunderstorm is the formation of cumulus clouds, as a large amount of moisture is lifted into the atmosphere. The moisture cools and condenses into liquid forming clouds, and in doing so latent heat is released.
This heat warms the air, making it less dense than the dry air that surrounds it. Once the warm air rises and meets a level of still warmer air above it, the storm matures and is forced to spread out horizontally.
The water droplets held within the clouds join, becoming larger and heavier, eventually freezing into ice particles. If there is minimal wind shear and a weak updraft, the storm will tend to dissipate rather quickly, producing heavy rain only.
However, if the updraft keeps the ice particles up long enough, they become so big that they do not melt while falling; hail is caused.
Lightning – the principal hazard of electrical storms – is caused by the discharge of a large, built up electrical charge within the storm. This is created by static electricity that arises when supercooled water droplets collide with ice crystals. This is why these types of storms are so frequent during the summer months.
How To Prep Your Home For A Major Weather Event
Preparations for extreme weather should include the following:
- Remove overhanging branches from trees near your house or surrounding buildings and overhead power lines.
- Get a builder to check the roof regularly, as well as to secure windows and doors with shutters.
- Clear gutters and drainpipes to help water drain quickly.
- Check the foundations and supporting structures of your house for corrosion or infestation regularly, as these areas can be one of the first to falter during a major storm.,
- Always check your insurance policy covers you for natural disasters, and that your home insurance wording includes debris clean up and removal.
If you’re looking for the right builder that understands the insurance process, check out our directory of qualified tradespeople right now.