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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Intense cyclone Laurence peaks then strikes land

Tropical Cyclone Laurence burst to a very intense Category 5 cyclone with winds in excess of 200 kph just offshore of Kuri Bay early morning December 16th.

Cyclone Laurence Off Aust.’s Northwest Upgraded to Category 5 (Bloomberg)

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Tropical Cyclone Laurence, off Australia’s northwest coast, has been upgraded to a category 5 cyclone, the highest intensity rating, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its Web site. “Severe Tropical Cyclone Laurence is a small but very intense tropical cyclone having very destructive winds with gusts to 285 kilometers per hour close to the cyclone center,” it said.


Less than 12 hours later, Laurence slammed into the coast making landfall and dropping quickly to a Category 3 cyclone. Overnight the storm degraded even further to a Category 2 cyclone.

Cyclone Weakens After Making Landfall in Northwestern Australia (Bloomberg)

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Tropical Cyclone Laurence, which weakened after making landfall overnight in northwestern Australia, remains a threat with destructive winds buffeting the Kimberley region, where offshore oil and gas rigs were evacuated earlier.

Red alerts, the highest-level warnings, are in place for Derby, Koolan Island and Cockatoo Island, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority said in its most recent statement, issued late last night.

The storm was downgraded to a category two cyclone today from the highest rating of five yesterday, according to a Bureau of Meteorology statement issued on its Web site at 7:20 a.m. local time.

Laurence, which has winds as high as 155 kilometers (96 miles) per hour, was 90 kilometers northeast of the town of Derby at 5 a.m. and moving south-southeast at 6 kph, it said.

Laurence will track over land essentially parallel to the coastline dumping heavy rain along the way. In a couple of days the storm is expected to re-emerge into the Indian Ocean as a Category 1 cyclone.

I believe that the area over which Laurence is moving has been subjected to a severe drought for several years. Heavy rain from a tropical cyclone has the potential for flash flooding because the rain falls faster than ground can absorb the water.

Alternately, if Laurence is drivin towards the Australian interior, the resulting rain could provide relief and heavy rain to much of the country.

Laurence leaves a legacy of wild weather (NT News)
Bureau senior forecaster Angeline Prasad said weather swirling around Laurence had created monsoonal-like conditions for Darwin.

Not only that, but some weather models also suggest Laurence could help make Alice Springs' Todd River flow soon.

"It depends on what Laurence - or ex-Laurence - does," Ms Prasad said. She said ex-Laurence could travel to Central Australia as a rain depression and join forces with a cloud band already causing showers in the area.

If that happens, Ms Prasad said it was likely to cause significant rains.

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