As of 15 May 2018, Queensland had a population of 5,000,000, concentrated along the coast and particularly in the state's South East. The capital and largest city in the state is Brisbane, Australia's third-largest city. Often referred to as the "Sunshine State", Queensland is home to 10 of Australia's 30 largest cities and is the nation's third-largest economy. Tourism in the state, fuelled largely by its warm climate, is a major industry.
The meteorological instability in the region resulted in the formation of at least five supercell thunderstorms in the space of around three hours. The storms, which spawned progressively further up the coast from Brisbane to Gladstone as the afternoon progressed, left a trail of damage resulting from hail, rain and wind. The event has been described as "one of the most widespread [outbreaks of severe thunderstorms] recorded" by veteran meteorologist Richard Whitaker.