Preparing for severe weather

Severe weather season in Queensland is from November to April. In Queensland, severe weather includes tropical cyclones, severe storms and flooding.

Boat operators need to make all possible preparations for severe weather. Boat owners are responsible for maintaining their boat and property to survive severe weather.

Plan ahead before you go out on the water

Always check marine weather forecasts before you go boating. Keep checking them while you are on the water.

From 1 November, 2019 Maritime Safety Queensland ceased its dial-up maritime weather service.

The Bureau of Meteorology provides Queensland Marine Warnings by dialling 1300 659 210. Check with your service provider for call costs. Higher rates apply for mobile phone and pay phones.

Services are also available on the Bureau of Meteorology Marine and Ocean page for the latest weather forecasting. Check out the MetEye forecast maps which are adjusted by meteorologists to better represent expected weather. It also allows you to better select the weather information you want for your boating area.

Weather information is regularly broadcast on VHF radio channel 67 by some volunteer marine organisations. Broadcast schedules vary from station to station. Channel 67 is also monitored by some volunteer organisations who can give individual forecasts on request.

Marine forecasts are accurate when predicting major weather events, such as cyclones, but are sometimes less accurate when predicting local severe weather, such as strong winds in storms. Be prepared for sudden unexpected weather changes.

What to do if you are going away during severe weather season

If you are going away from November to April, make sure you do one of the following before you leave:

  • Lodge a completed 'Authorisation to move vessel' form at your local volunteer marine organisation (if they provide the service) with a key for your boat, in case there is a harbour evacuation.
  • Leave a key and contact details with a responsible (and licensed) person, telling them when and where your boat needs to be moved if there is a severe weather warning.

What if I am out on a boat during severe weather?

Personal safety is the number one priority at all times. Use common sense if you are stuck in severe weather.

At the first sign of bad or severe weather while you are on the water, make sure everyone on board is wearing a personal flotation device or life jacket.

If you cannot get back to your normal mooring or boat ramp, look for shelter in rivers or creeks with a mangrove fringe to act as a buffer zone from the wind.

Remember that heavy rain will increase the flow of ebb tides in any creeks or rivers.

If you are in a marina or hardstand area, ask the manager for instructions. Follow evacuation advice from police and emergency services.

Contingency plans

Tropical cyclones in Queensland can have more unpredictable paths than in other parts of the world. They can last from a few days up to several weeks.

Maritime Safety Queensland has published Extreme Weather Event Contingency Plans to tell you what to do if a cyclone warning is posted and how to respond to the different warning and/or alert levels.

Boat owners have responsibilities under each level. Make sure you know these to take the best safety precautions for your boat and surrounding infrastructure.

Extreme Weather Event Contingency plan 2023–2024

The Extreme Weather Event Contingency plan 2023–2024 utilises emergency management concepts such as, a comprehensive all agencies approach and principles to best manage emergent events. 

Port specific extreme weather event contingency plans (appendices)

Cairns region

Townsville region

Mackay region

Gladstone region

Brisbane region

What do I need to do during severe weather season?


  • Get a copy of the Extreme Weather Event Contingency Plan for your area and read it.
  • Explore your suggested shelter area or inlet before cyclone season starts.
  • Update your contact details with the authorities.
  • Organise options to move your boat if you will be away during severe weather season.
  • Keep a record of emergency telephone numbers handy (for example, regional harbour master, volunteer marine rescue organisations, Queensland Police Service).


  • Know when and where your vessel needs to be during an evacuation.
  • Have plenty of line to secure your boat (rope has more ‘give’ than chain).
  • Secure loose articles below deck.
  • Secure all hatches.
  • Check your boat is watertight.
  • Reduce wind loading and remove furled sails and covers, bimini tops and any clears.


  • Obey and follow all directions issued by the regional harbour master or others as delegated.
  • Do not leave your cyclone mooring until the regional harbour master has given the all clear.

Prepare, plan and obey these simple rules and you could prevent damage to your boat and others.

A penalty up to 200 penalty units is applicable for not following the directions of a harbour master.

More information about preparing for severe weather is available from your closest Maritime Safety Queensland regional office.

More information about cyclones is on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

Last updated
06 December 2023