Australian Geographic, Timeline Australia’s worst cyclones, website viewed 29 April 2011. Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland 9(3): 9–29. The National Museum of Australia acknowledges First Australians and recognises their continuous connection to country, community and culture. Information about emergencies, disasters and disaster resilience comes from many sources. Recently, researchers have found historical evidence to suggest that Porter actually recorded a much lower pressure — 26 inches (880 hPa) — but that no-one at the time believed such a measure was possible. 1899: Cyclone Mahina at Bathurst Bay in Queensland is Australia’s deadliest, with over 300 deaths. On 4 March 1899 this category 5 cyclone caused one of Australia's worst natural disasters killing over 400 people and destroying the pearling fleet berthed at Bathurst Bay. In 1899, when radio communication was still in its infancy, weather forecasts and warnings were communicated to ships at sea via visual signals from a station. More than 300 people died, the great majority of whom were divers and seamen from South-East Asia, the Torres Strait and Pacific islands who worked on the Thursday Island pearling fleet. He also noted the development of a second cyclone, Nachon, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The cyclone is considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in Australia’s history. If the pressure of Mahina did fall to 880 hPa, this would make it one of the most intense tropical cyclones ever recorded and, according to current research, capable of producing a sea-water inundation of 13 metres. Of the Bathurst Bay schooners, only Crest of the Wave survived because its captain, William Porter, a New Zealander, cut down its mast to prevent it from capsizing. The cyclone is considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in Australia’s history.
More than 300 people died, the great majority of whom were divers and seamen from South-East Asia, the Torres Strait and Pacific islands who worked on the Thursday Island pearling fleet. Ship’s captains who were out of range of these signals had to rely on their own experience and barometer readings to predict bad weather and take action to protect their crew and vessels. Australia Government, Natural disasters in Australia, website viewed 29 April 2011. Witnesses who visited the area shortly afterwards, reported seeing grass ripped from the ground and dolphin carcasses six metres above sea level. On 4 March 1899, a Category Five cyclone hit Bathurst Bay with winds reaching 260 kilometres per hour. L'onde de tempête de 14,6 mètres qui a déferlé avec ce cyclone est réputée comme étant la plus importante de l'histoire écrite mondiale1.
Mahina was a Category 5 cyclone, as are all cyclones with a central pressure of 929 hectopascals (hPa) or less.
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