How many people die from a tropical cyclone in Australia each year?

These days, very few people die from tropical cyclones in Australia.The highest death toll from any cyclone to hit Australia was when Cyclone Mahina hit in 1899. The figure of over 400 deaths - most of which were crew out in a pearling fleet or local indigenous people - has never been repeated in Australia's history.

The second worst cyclone occurred in 1918, when 37 people died in Innisfail and another 30-40 people died in outlying areas, as the result of an unnamed cyclone which simply became known as Cyclone Innisfail. Almost equal with this cyclone was Tropical Cyclone Tracy, which hit Darwin in 1974. This killed 71.

Outside of those two cyclones, death tolls have remained low, and in most cases, no one is killed. Other cyclones which have caused deaths include:

  • Cyclone Alba in 1970 - 14 deaths
  • Cyclone Althea in 1971 - 3 deaths
  • Cyclone Emily in 1972 - 8 deaths, all seamen off the coast of Queensland
  • Cyclone Alby in 1978 - 5 deaths
  • Cyclone Bobby in 1995 - 7 deaths
As safety standards for housing have been implemented in recent decades, the death toll has dropped remarkably, with no deaths in the last twenty years. There was one disputed death in Cyclone Larry, 2006, but investigations ruled out a connection to the cyclone.

However, just because there have been fewer dead does not mean that the Australian environment has come off lightly. Australia has up to fifteen cyclones hit along its coastline every year, and between them, these other cyclones cause billions of dollars worth of damage to farms and agriculture, businesses, housing and infrastructure.