In February 2015 Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia swept across large sections of north eastern Queensland leaving behind a path of destruction. In forested areas the impacts could be seen in the form of massive defoliation, uprooted trees, snapped off stems and fallen branches. After addressing the immediate clean up needs, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services began to consider the impact the cyclone might have on the next bushfire season and beyond. As little information on such impact was available, QFES commission the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC to undertake a field study and to collect and analyse fuel loads at a number of sites in the cyclones’ path. This study, conducted by Jim Gould, showed the increased fuel loading resulting from the cyclone could impede access to fire lines and increase fire spread and fire intensity by 1-5 and 2.5 fold respectively. Not only has the study provided specific information on potential fire behaviour in these areas in the coming fire season, but it has also led to the development of a new visual field guide that complements the existing suite of fuel hazard guides and can be used to assess the impacts of future cyclones (or other storm events).
Outputs from the project include a report and a Hazard Note summarising the findings.