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Virtual hailstorms aim to help us prepare for the real thing

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Ever wondered what it must feel like to be caught in a category five cyclone or surrounded by floodwaters? Now you can find out – virtually.

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A trio of videos, developed with 3D animation, has been released ahead of Queensland’s storm season and just as large areas of the State are inundated with floodwaters and torrential rainfall.

The realistic series of videos were developed by Get Ready Queensland in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology as a warning for people and to highlight the risks of extreme weather.

The three videos cover severe storms, cyclones and flooding.

Each begins with a nice day and, using clever animation, simulates how a storm or cyclone can progress from mild to deadly. Floodwaters rise above the narrator’s head, houses are destroyed, vehicles swept away and rain sheets sideways while wind howls. As the storm gets worse the narrator is dwarfed by the torrent of floodwater.

In another, the narrator inside his house, shelters from a storm, which gets and worse. Giant hailstones smash the windows and blast through the roof.

The dramatic images are aimed at alerting Queenslanders to the dangers and vagaries of the weather and encouraging them to be prepared.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles says that research shows complacency is the greatest challenge when encouraging people to prepare for severe weather events.

“More than 40 per cent of Queenslanders will wait until a disaster event is almost upon the before they take steps to prepare, which is often too late,” Mr Miles said.

And he says the videos are especially important for new arrivals to Queensland who may not have experienced the State’s wild weather.

The videos aim to simulate the intensity and impact of extreme weather events and also the speed.

The cyclone video takes the viewer through the impact of a category one cyclone through to a category five. A caravan is blown away, trees are ripped from the ground, a roof is torn off a house and then the flooding starts, complete with a crocodile in the floodwaters.

Senior Meteorologist Laura Boekel, who appears in the tropical cyclone video, says the videos were based on the latest science and were co-produced and narrated by fellow bureau experts Jess Carey and David Grant.

“With many Queenslanders already experiencing the impacts of severe weather, the release of these three videos is a timely reminder that everybody should be planning ahead to keep themselves, their family and friends and all community members safe,” Boekel said.

She said the visuals were created with the use of a green screen and showed how dangerous weather hazards can be – from how easily a car can be swept away in flood waters, to the size of giant hail that can smash windows or the types of wind damage a category five cyclone can cause.

The extreme weather videos will feature on BOM and Get Ready Queensland social media platforms from Wednesday.

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