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Sarah Gardner

on 12 April 2013

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Cyclone Tracy

On the 22nd of December a Cyclone had formed, and was situated 180km NW of Cape Don and was moving WSW.

On the 23rd of December the cyclone was about 100km west of Snake Bay. Destructive winds up to 90km/h - 130km/h and flood rains were expected in Bathurst and Melville Islands.

On the 24th December, radar observations showed that Tracy had changed directions and was moving south. At 9am, Tracy was situated 115km WNW of Darwin. At 12:30pm a cyclone warning was issued when it was confirmed that Tracy was heading directly towards Darwin. By 10pm cyclone Tracy was certainly going to hit.

On the 25th of December, Cyclone Tracy passed directly over Darwin just after midnight. Tracy had passed completely by around 7am the next morning. The wind speed of cyclone Tracy reached up to 250 km/hr. In addition, up to 255mm of rain fell within the first 24hrs. Cycoiudf Heathers google earth video Cyclone Tracy was a Category 4 cyclone (on the Australian cyclone intensity scale), which formed on the 20th of December 1974. It hit Darwin on the 24th of December to the 25th.

On the 22nd of December, a broadcast stated that Cyclone Tracy posed no immediate threat to Darwin. However, early on the 24th of December, Tracy moved in a Southeasterly direction, straight towards Darwin.

Tracy reached winds of up to 240km/h, caused substantial destruction in Darwin and killed 71 people. Any tropical cyclone that forms is measured according to an intensity scale, which uses a category system. A category is determined based on estimated maximum wind gusts.

Cyclone Selma had been predicted to hit Darwin earlier in the month of December, 1974, but it instead went north and dissipated without affecting Darwin in any way.

On the 20th of December 1974, a tropical low pressure system formed in the Arafura Sea (about 700 Kilometers NE of Darwin).

On the 21st of December, a tropical low was 250km NNE of Croker Island. There was a possibility of a tropical cyclone developing. In the evening an infrared satellite image showed that the low pressure had developed further and that spiralling clouds could be observed. BEFORE CYCONE TRACY PATH OF CYCLONE TRACY Cyclone Tracy killed 71 people, caused $837 million in damage, and destroyed more than 70% of Darwin's buildings, including 80% of houses. More than 41 000 out of 47 000 people living in Darwin became homeless. Over 30 000 people were evacuated. Most people were evacuated to Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs and Sydney. Many never returned to the city. After the cyclone passed, the city was rebuilt using more modern materials and better building techniques. There were significant economic, social and environmental impacts as a result of Tropical Cyclone Tracy.

Economic Impacts:
1. Estimated cost of disaster was $950 million
2. Darwin's population went from 45000 to 10500 as many evacuees did not return. This had a major impact on the local economy
3. Major damage to infrastructure (roads, electricity supply etc)
4. Up to 80% of buildings were destroyed. Only 6% of Darwin's houses were considered immediately habitable. In the northern suburbs of Darwin, close to 100% of all residential properties were ruined.

Social Impacts:
1. Claimed 71 lives
2. Approximately 650 people were treated for injuries
3. More than 41 000 people living in Darwin became homeless
4. More than 35000 people evacuated

Environmental Impacts:
1. Large amounts of vegetation destroyed (thousands of trees) Management strategies/ preventative measures to reduce the impact

During a natural disaster it is important to have management strategies to keep people safe. This includes:

Forecasting: Local television stations need to forecast the weather and individuals need to make sure they watch it. This is so that everyone can be aware of the weather. Forecasting is linked to warning

Warning: Warning is linked to forecasting and involves knowing what the weather will be like in the near future. It is important for government bodies and councils to make everyone aware and it’s important for individuals to be aware: watching the news, listening to the radio, etc.

Evacuation: Have well publicised evacuation points in cities and practice emergency procedures in groups and buildings so that everyone can be evacuated quickly and safely. This is linked to warning as people need to be aware. Everyone must know evacuation procedures.

SOURCES USED AND WHY: The sources used were-


This source provided useful information on the weather before and after Cyclone Tracy.


This document provided a good summary of Cyclone Tracy, giving lots of detail and information from different resources.


This source provided useful information, which I thought would be accurate because it is a government site. After Cyclone Tracy Shelter: This is linked to evacuation, as people may need to be evacuated to the closest shelter. The buildings and shelters need to be hardy and big enough to hold enough people, and have the right resources. Everyone needs to make sure they know where the shelters are.

Land-use planning: When deciding what to do with a piece of land, make sure you have assessed it thoroughly. The local council or government needs to do this. If things have been built in unsuitable locations, everyone needs to be aware of this.

Building Design and Construction: Buildings must be designed to withstand violent weather. Government bodies and councils must make sure of this. Strong materials must also be used. Shelters must be the strongest.

Preparedness behaviours: This is linked to evacuation and warning. Everyone must know what to do when the cyclone comes or when there is a cyclone warning. Local groups, businesses and schools much make sure they practice evacuation in the case of a sudden emergency. People must be able to leave their homes and belongings suddenly.

Vulnerable populations: Everyone must be aware of vulnerable people such as the elderly, disabled, young children, or pregnant women. Extra care must be taken by everyone in getting them to safety and they must be accounted for in all calculations.

Risk perception: It is very important to know what you are facing so that you know how long it will last, and the damage it will do. This links to every single one of the other management strategies as it affects all of them.
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