East Coast Lows and the Newcastle-Central Coast 'Pasha Bulker' storm

Media type: 
Fact sheets
Danielle Verdon-Kidd
Anthony Kiem
Garry Willgoose
Philip Haines
University of Newcastle
New South Wales

The June 2007 storm (the Pasha Bulker storm) was one of the most significant meteorological events in Australia’s history. It was the 4th largest general insurance loss (inflation adjusted) since systematic insurance records were started in 1968. The storm consisted of three distinct impacts (1) flash flooding in the urban area of Newcastle (and as far south as the Central Coast, impacting 800,000 people) on the night of 8 June (about 1 in 100 year return period) (2) more general flooding on the Hunter River 3 days later (about 1 in 40 return period, impacting about 100,000 people) and (3) high winds and wave heights on the night of 8 June (the worst in the Newcastle-Sydney region since the “Sygna” storm in 1974, also an east coast low). While the media focus was on the grounded “Pasha Bulker” and the Hunter floods, most insurance losses resulted from the 8 June flash flooding, as did the 5 fatalities. The Hunter floods were successfully managed by the extensive flood mitigation measures installed along the Hunter. Significant economic losses and social disruption occurred as a knock-on effects of the loss of critical infrastructure (300,000 people without mains electricity for 4 days, some for up to a month; the coal export chain halted for two weeks, etc). Of note is that the worst flooding impact was in the Newcastle CBD, which is undergoing active urban revitalisation with Federal and State Government financial support, and it is thus a possible case study of adoption of adaptation measures as part of urban redevelopment (though this aspect is outside the scope of this project)

Please cite as:
Verdon-Kidd, D, Kiem, AS, Willgoose, G & Haines, P 2010, East Coast Lows and the Newcastle/Central Coast Pasha Bulker storm, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 61 pp.

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Photo by PJ Rosenberger