Tropical cyclone pathways of the Fitzroy Catchment, Queensland, Australia

Miss Jessie Gray1, Dr. Jasmine Jaffrés2, Dr. Chris  Cuff2, Dr. Cecily Rasmussen2

1Central Queensland University, Townsville, Australia, 2C&R Consulting, Townsville, Australia


The Fitzroy Basin is the largest river catchment along the east coast of Queensland and is a prime repository for extensive mineral exploration and agriculture activities. Historically, the impact of tropical cyclones (TC) across the Fitzroy catchment has been documented since the mid-1800s. TC tracks that have transgressed across the catchment have been anecdotally hypothesised to favour particular pathways and may have been a detrimental driver of intense rainfall and flood events. One example was TC Debbie (category 4) in 2017 (Australian Bureau of Meteorology 2018). In several locations, TC Debbie produced rainfall totals of close to 1000 millimetres over a two-day period and generated an estimated cost of over $2.5 billion worth of damages. Ultimately, the destruction from TCs is a concerning issue to Fitzroy communities as it impacts many environmental, economic and social revenues. This study identified potential TC pathways for the Fitzroy catchment from 1841 to 2020 using cluster analysis. Environmental and climate drivers for each cluster were explored, primarily focusing on TC occurrence during the different modes of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The historical variability of TC events was investigated and compared in relation to significant flooding events within the Fitzroy catchment. Notably, the knowledge and purpose of this study are to understand the historical variability of TC pathways in the Fitzroy Basin and assist in preparing and managing upcoming risks for future TC events.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology 2018, Tropical Cyclone Debbie Technical Report, Melbourne Australia


Jessie Gray is a 2nd year PhD student at Central Queensland University, in Townsville. Her PhD focuses on analysing the spatial and temporal characteristics of Tropical Cyclones and East coast lows