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AE 499 – Expression: — Up a Storm

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of The Aussie English Podcast where I teach you how to use — Up a Storm like a native speaker.

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AE 499 – Expression: — Up a Storm 

We’ve been talking a bit this week about the 40th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy, the devastating cyclone in Darwin, and a caller mentioned, (it) might have been Annette, talking about the sound that was captured by a bishop at that time, Bishop Ted Collins, and the noise. We’ve managed to track it down. Here’s a bit of that noise that ripped through Darwin close to Christmas in 1974.


G’day, you mob! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone who wants to learn advanced English, obviously, too with a tiny little hint of Australian English in there as well, although, it may not be that tiny at times. Depends. Depends.

Anyway, so, the intro scene there, guys, the intro scene was from a radio segment from 2GB Sydney that was aired in 2014. You can probably check out 2GB if you’re in the Sydney area and it was on the YouTube channel Des Poeling-Oer. (I’m) not sure how to pronounce his name, but there will be a link in the transcript if you would like to check out that entire video, although, it was a short one.

But yeah, that was about Cyclone Tracy, which took place in northern Australia, in the Northern Territory, back in the 70s. But we’ll get into that in today’s fact.

Anyway, guys, this is the Aussie English Podcast. This is where I try to help English learners who’ve come to Australia, but elsewhere in the world as well, learn advanced English. So, I’m interested in trying to help you sound more like a native speaker when you learn English, when you’re speaking English, ok? So, that’s the whole point of these episodes. So, obviously you’re listening to the Aussie English Podcast, if you would like to get access to the transcripts and the MP3s unlimited access so that you can download these, make sure you go to and you can sign up there for the price of a coffee per month and you’ll be able to download these anytime, anywhere and practice wherever you want.

Also, the Podcast is brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom, guys. Now, this is where I put all the other content the courses, the videos, the other bonus MP3s, the exercises, the quizzes, everything else that I create I put into the Aussie English Classroom in the form of a course. Except there are many, many, many, courses. So, each week for these expression episodes I create three videos at the moment for pronunciation, for expressions and for vocab and then I guide you through 10 or so different pieces of vocab expressions etc. and I try and help you expand your English so, if you want to join up there, you will get access to this episode’s bonus content as well as previous episodes. You’ll also get access to the interview course that I have in there with other Australians and the pronunciation course so, that you can work on your English pronunciation. Just go to, don’t get it confused with the podcast website of hit sign up, you can enroll and it’s just one dollar for your first month so, give that a go! Anyway, guys, let’s get into today’s joke.

So, today’s expression is obviously about the weather, it’s about storms. So, I thought I’d try and find a joke that is related to the weather. So, here’s the joke: what does a cloud wear under its raincoat? What does a cloud wear under its rain coat? Are you ready? Thunderwear. Thunderwear. I told Kel this one earlier today and she was very underwhelmed with the joke. She was like… *claps*.

What does a cloud wear under its raincoat? Thunderwear. So, it’s a pun on the word ‘underwear’ and the word ‘thunder’, right? From a cloud, thunder that comes from a storm cloud. Anyway, dumb jokes aside, let’s get into today’s expression, guys.

Today’s expression is to ‘verb’ Something, ‘verb’, ‘verb’, ‘verb’ + up a storm, right? So, up a storm, but there’s often a verb before the expression ‘up a storm’, ok? We’ll get into that in a sec. This one was from Zinnia who suggested this in the Aussie English Classroom, a Facebook group we all voted. Good job Zinnia, she won!

So, ‘up a storm’ it’s an interesting expression, because this expression, the first part of it can change. So, you might hear this as to cook up a storm, to dance up a storm, to work up a storm, to kick up a storm, to stir up a storm. The verb at the start there can change, ok? But before we get into how it is defined, let’s talk about the words in this expression.

So, obviously, the first word can be a verb of some kind that can change and the definition of that verb is going to depend on the verb.

But the word ‘up’, the word ‘up’ here isn’t literally talking about the direction upwards, right? So, like, above you, in that direction, the opposite of down or downwards. In this case, the word up is a preposition and it’s part of a phrasal verb. To cook up, to dance up, to work up, to kick up. And in this case, it means to something into a desired or proper condition, right? So, if you cook something up, you are changing something so, that it is cooked. You are completely cooking that thing so, that is how ‘up’ is working here, when it’s combined with a verb, it’s kind of like to completion or into a desired state or proper condition.

The other word in here ‘a storm’, right? ‘Storm’ is a violent disturbance of the atmosphere, with strong winds, usually rain, thunder, lightning, and snow, but no thunderwear, right? So, often you know, there’s storms. There was a storm here last night with a lot of rain that came, though, and there was a lot of wind. Fortunately, though, there was no lightning or thunder and there’s never been any snow, not at least here, not at least here.

So, the definition of the expression, right? ‘— up a storm’, but with a verb before it. So, as I said, it’s interesting because it can change, you could say Cook up a storm, dance up a storm, work up a storm, kick up a storm, but the most common one here I’ll ever hear is ‘cook up a storm’. I think this tends to be the most common one that you’ll hear and it may seem confusing, right. It’s effectively acting like an adverb though, up a storm, right? You’re adding it to have before it it’s modifying the verb. And so, ‘— up a storm’ is added to mean the action of the verb, to a great amount, with fury, with intensity. So, you’re doing something, the verb, you’re doing that verb with enthusiastic spirit, to great amounts.

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If you’re cooking up a storm, you are cooking something up a lot in a furious manner. If you are working up a storm, you’re working something up to a great degree, in an enthusiastic spirit, ok? But it can kind of change the meaning depending on the verb you use. You cook up a storm, you can imagine you are cooking a large amount of food all at once, you’re preparing a great deal of food. If you talk up a storm, you are talking to a great extent. You are talking to a great amount, with a lot of intensity. If you kick up a storm, in this case, if you kick something up, it’s more that you’re creating a situation in which people are very angry or upset or critical so, you’re like causing a fuss, ok?

So, let’s go through three examples using three different versions of this expression. So, this is how I would use these in day to day life, ok? So, the three examples will be for cook up a storm, talk up a storm and kick up a storm.

So, number one: cook up a storm: and this is a true story. So, Kel and I are getting married in the next month and my mum is very keen to have a really big family party of some kind, to have all my family and friends over, my extended family and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, third cousins. She wants all of those people over at the house to introduce Kel to them, to the entire family. So, she’s invited them all over to our place in Ocean Grove for a Brazilian style barbecue, because Kel is Brazilian, they want to cook up some Brazilian food. So, they’ve decided to theme it with a Brazilian theme and they’re going to cook up a bunch of Brazilian foods from recipes that they get online. So, hopefully that means lots of farofa, feijão, and churrasco. So, that is like… Farofa is this kind of cassava flour powder that you add to food and it’s really tasty. Feijão is beans, black beans, and churrasco is just barbecued meat. So, hopefully will have lots of that. So, because they are planning to cook up a lot of food and for so many people at the party I’m sure on the day they’ll be cooking up a storm, right? They’ll be cooking up a storm in the kitchen, they’ll be cooking loads of food up, they’ll be doing it with intensity, with fury, with enthusiastic spirit. I hope that while they’re preparing this food, they’re going to be cooking up a storm.

Number two: to talk up a storm. To talk up a storm. My sister got pregnant last year, ok? She had a bun in the oven. She was up the duff. She was pregnant and nine months later, obviously, she had a baby. This was in November last year and her daughter is named Isabell. So, my niece is now almost a year old. She is beginning to walk, she can say a few words, you know, things like ‘mama’, ‘dada’, but I’m sure that in no time at all she’s going to be able to talk up a storm, right? She’s going to be able to learn to speak. She’ll start talking everyone’s heads off, she’ll start saying all these other words and so, she’ll be talking, she’ll be speaking non-stop, all the time, enthusiastically, to a great extent, she’ll be talking up a storm.

And, example number three: to kick up a storm. So, in this case, imagine you are going into the city one day for a bit of retail therapy, and retail therapy is something that women quite often use. They use this expression retail therapy to refer to buying clothes or buying things when they’re upset or they’re in a bad mood or they’re sad, right? So, imagine you’re a girl, you’ve broken up with your boyfriend, you’re feeling really bad after the breakup, you want to cheer yourself up, you might go out and have a bit of retail therapy, right? Because you going to buy some stuff in retail. So, if when you go out to get some clothes, some food, some whatever it is that you want to buy for your house or for yourself, you go into the city and there’s a massive protest going on in the street. Thousands of people holding up signs, holding up placards, shouting slogans, are making a lot of noise, and you might want to know what all the fuss is about. You might want to know why they’re kicking up such a storm. So, what’s all the fuss about? Why are they protesting? Why are they kicking up a storm? So, if you find out it’s a relatively trivial matter. Maybe, you know, they want a 1% increase in the wages of teachers. And you think that’s not really important. You might say they’re kicking up a storm over nothing and that these protests are nothing but a storm in a teacup, meaning they’re a very small problem. They’re very trivial, it’s not a big issue, they’re kicking up a fuss over nothing. They’re making a mountain out of a molehill, they’re kicking up a storm over a very trivial matter.

So, hopefully now, guys, you understand the expression ‘Something + up a storm’, right? To cook up a storm, to talk up a storm, to kick up a storm. When we add ‘up a storm’ as an adverb to a verb before it, it means that we’re doing that verb to a great degree, with fury, with intensity, or with enthusiastic spirit, ok? So, as usual, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise, guys. So, in this one I use the example to cook up a storm and I want you to listen and repeat after me and practice your English pronunciation, ok? Let’s go!


To cook

To cook up

To cook up a

To cook up a storm x 5

Good job! Now, let’s practice using ‘to kick up a storm’ in the future continuous tense, ok? For example: I will be kicking up a storm. I’ll be kicking up a storm. However, this time, I’m going to use contractions and connected speech as I would when I’m normally speaking English at a natural pace, right? At a natural speed. So, try and pay attention to how these words link together and how the changes in sound occur. And if you want to get access to the exercise, the video where I break this down step by step, don’t forget to join the Aussie English Classroom, remember, it’s just one dollars for your first month at and you’ll get access to this video, in the course, as well as all the previous courses where I break down exactly how I am changing my pronunciation when I’m speaking more naturally, how these connections in words occur, how the contractions occur. Ok? So, let’s go.

Tomorrow, I’ll be kicking up a storm.

Tomorrow, you’ll be kicking up a storm.

Tomorrow, she’ll be kicking up a storm.

Tomorrow, he’ll be kicking up a storm.

Tomorrow, we’ll be kicking up a storm.

Tomorrow, they’ll be kicking up a storm.

Tomorrow, it’ll be kicking up a storm.

Good job there, guys! Good job! You may think why am I using words like tomorrow in these sentences when we use certain tenses like I’ll be kicking, I’ll be doing, I’ll be thinking, because it’s placing it in the future, I think it’s always important to try and give context in the sentence itself so that you attach the tense with a time, ok? So, that’s why I tend to try and use words like tomorrow, yesterday, next year, until tomorrow, etc., to place those verb tenses in context.

Anyway, guys, let’s get into the Aussie English fact for today and then we can finish up and there’s a phrasal verb with up. Alright, so, now I want to talk about Cyclone Tracy.

So, obviously today’s expression was about the word storm or had the word storm in it. So, I thought, you know, what could I do about storms in Australia? And I thought about the severe cyclone storms that Australia gets every year in the monsoon tropics. This is the part of Australia in the north, above the Tropic of Capricorn, right? That goes through, roughly, halfway through Australia and separates the south from the north so, to the north of Australia cyclones hit the coast all the time whether it’s in the Northern Territory or Queensland, they get cyclones each year. Cyclone Tracy was a tropical cyclone though that made landfall on Christmas Eve and Christmas day in 1974 and it devastated the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory in Australia. So, really tragic, because… not just because it was such a devastating storm, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. It arrived on Christmas Eve and it, you know, destroyed Christmas Day as well for all the people there. So, it was the most compact cyclone storm to have ever occurred in the Australian basin and southern hemisphere, with gale force winds extending only 48 kilometres from the centre. So, outside of 48 kilometres from the centre of the storm, the eye of this storm, the gale force winds dropped off which is very weird. That’s a very small, compact, concentrated storm. So, this made it the smallest-ever tropical cyclone worldwide until the year 2000 and I think 7, 2007, 2008, when Tropical Storm Marco broke the record with gale force winds extending only 19 kilometres from the centre, massively compact storm.

So, Cyclone Tracy first started as a storm that formed over the Arafura Sea. And then it moved southwards and affected Darwin with category four winds. The highest sustained winds during this time were up to 205 kilometres an hour with gusts nearly 250 kilometres an hour, right? That’s crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever… I’ve never been in a car that’s driven that fast. That’s insane.

And so, these storms, I guess, they form over the warm water in the tropical areas and then when they hit the land they start to dissipate, but they build up all that energy from the warm water in the oceans. And that happens around the tropics.

So, Cyclone Tracy completely devastated Darwin and it killed 71 people and many thousands of people were injured. In 1974, the cost of the storm was $837 million dollars in damage, which today is more than $6 billion dollars. Initially, after the storm 65 people were killed, were found to have been killed, with six missing and it was only in 2005 when the Northern Territory Coroner proclaimed that the six people that were still missing had perished at sea. So, this cyclone knocked down more than 70 percent of buildings in Darwin, including 80 percent of people’s houses.

And if you search for Cyclone Tracy in Google images you’re going to see the full extent of this cyclone’s destruction. It’s just insane. Everywhere is flat it looks like those photos you see of the U.S. when a massive tornado has gone through a town.

So, 25,000 of the 47,000 inhabitants of the city were made homeless prior to landfall of this cyclone and they were evacuated. Most of Darwin’s population got evacuated to places like Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs, Brisbane, and Sydney and many of these people actually stayed in these cities and never returned after the storm. After the storm had passed and people had assessed all the damage from the storm, the city was eventually rebuilt using more stringent standards to cyclone code so that, hopefully, in the future, the city would be more cyclone-proof and you would prevent any of this sort of destruction to the same extent in the future.

So, that’s the story of Cyclone Tracy, guys. It was a very small and compact storm that hit Australia at a very unfortunate time, during Christmas, in 1974 and it killed 70 people making it the deadliest storm in Australian recorded history, as far as I’m aware.

So, if you come to Australia, I’m sure that if you mention knowing information about Cyclone Tracy the average Australian here is going to have heard of that cyclone and if they were alive during 1974, they may have even been there.

Anyway, guys! Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you have an amazing weekend and I’ll see you in the next episode, episode 500, which I have something very special planned for.

So, I’ll see you then. Bye!

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