Cyclone Tracy - Christmas Day 1974

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Cyclone Tracy - Christmas Day 1974

Post by Troppoz » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:16 pm

On the morning of the 39th anniversary of Australias worst natural disaster, and with your own scary Christmas weather in the UK I thought Id post some video and an original news reel from the event with some footage of the aftermath of the cyclone.

Even though the "official" recording was winds of 217km/hr (the anonemeter was destroyed at that point) Ive recently read that a detailed analysis of the wind speeds has revised them upwards to over 300km/hr sustained winds with gusts over 350km/hr and even a possibility of close to 400km/hr! This puts it right up there with Typhoon Haiyan as one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record!

Its believed that a number of tornadoes were embedded around the eye wall which accounts for a lot of the extreme, and unusual, destruction. For example our house lost its roof and most walls and our neighbours on one side were left with nothing but a floor, yet the neighbours on the other side only had a few dents in their roof from flying debris! Steel girders an inch thick were twisted and snapped like they were made of putty and I remember a fridge embedded in a water tower 20 metres from the ground, only a tornado can create that sort of lift.

The destruction was near complete with 95% of houses, including mine, completely destroyed after 8 hours of those winds and 75 people officially listed as dead, though rumours still fly that the true death toll was in the hundreds. Our family was safe but our dog and our budgies were lost, not to mention all of our Christmas presents. We were basically left with the clothes on our back, no food, no water, no sanitation, nothing! We were in the same position as 45000 others though and there were families who lost much much more...

Anyway, here it is and keep in mind that much of this footage was taken in the weeks after the cyclone so a lot of the debris had been cleared by this stage. The level of total destruction has been compared to the destruction of Hiroshima in WWII with very few buildings left standing... Apparently not only were all the leaves and branches stripped from the few trees that werent uprooted but even the grass was stripped from the earth and not a single piece of green was left.

Cyclone Tracy was a phenomenal and unique weather event that rewrote the record books...

This video has personal accounts and some extraordinary photgraphs of the destruction:


Re: Cyclone Tracy - Christmas Day 1974

Post by billdango » Tue Dec 24, 2013 10:02 am

I missed that Cyclone as I left Darwin the Christmas before [1973] but I did get clobbered by a Cyclone in Townsville in 1972
But I was back in the UK by the following Christmas.

It was on the news channels here and I did wonder what happened to the Greek family I stayed with at 8 Maclacklan st [Darwin].

I was unable to contact them after that but hopefully they survived and are still alive somewhere else.

I see on google earth that most of Maclacklan st has been rebuilt and the original house [which stood on the corner] is now gone.

rgds billdango :(


Re: Cyclone Tracy - Christmas Day 1974

Post by Troppoz » Wed Dec 25, 2013 7:10 pm

You got out at the right time Bill!

That cyclone in Townsville was Cyclone Althea, up until Tracy had the record for the lowest air pressure ever recorded on the Australian mainland. Not for long, Tracy not only beat the record but smashed it! It was an extraordinary meteorological event on a world scale and nothing has really compared to it since in terms of its structure and it gave rise to the new term "microcane", in diameter it was the smallest tropical cyclone on record until 2008. All that destructive power just concentrated in a small area!

Mclachlan St and that whole area would be unrecognisable to you now, what Cyclone Tracy didnt destroy property developers did. The city area is basically 30 story buildings now and its become quite a bustling little place. I like it, Darwin might have lost a lot of its old charms but its a vibrant modern city these days. It would have quadrupled in size since you were here.

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