Cyclone Debbie: Sonification Background Report

This report examines the formation and impacts of Cyclone Debbie, the most powerful storm to make landfall in Queensland.

Making landfall on the 28 March 2017, Debbie caused widespread devastation and flooding, resulting in the second highest damage bill of any extreme weather event to hit Australia. Her high wind speeds and rainfall wrecked havoc from North Queensland, right through to Northern New South Wales. Given the widespread impacts, this storm was an obvious choice to be the first Australian cyclone sonified.

It also explores the process of data sonification, a process of taking data collected every 6 hours from Debbie’s formation and creating an audio track representing the storm's latitude, longitude, circularity and central air pressure.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Cyclone Debbie was the first cyclone since the 2014-15 season to reach severe status (Category 3 (AUS) or more).
  • Cyclone Debbie was the most powerful storm to make landfall in Queensland (QLD) since Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
  • Debbie had the highest ever recorded windspeed in Queensland, 263km/h at Hamilton Island.
  • Debbie has the second highest damage bill of any cyclone in Australia at $1.56 billion.
  • Debbie made landfall at 12:40pm Tuesday 28 March 2017 at Airlie Beach, 50km southeast of Bowen as a Category 4.
  • The maximum category of the cyclone was 4 with maximum sustained wind speeds of 195 km/h, gusts of 260 km/h, and a lowest central pressure of 943 hPA.
  • More than 65,000 homes were without power in North Queensland.
  • Major flooding over huge parts of southern Queensland and New South Wales (NSW).
  • The highest recorded 24 rainfall recorded during the event was 646mm at Clarke range.
  • In March 2018 the name Debbie was retired from naming in Australia due to its severity.

For more information please download the full Cyclone Debbie: Sonification background report here.