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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tropical Cyclone Laurence pounding North Australian coast

Yesterday Tropical Cyclone Laurence grew to a level 1 cyclone as it skirted along the northwestern coast of Australia west of Darwin. Latest storm track information indicates the storm jogged slightly to the north before continuing on a path parallel to the coastline.

Tropical Cyclone Laurence kicks off Cyclone season (North Queensland Register)
THE tropical low that has been punishing the Top End recently with heavy rain and damaging wind gusts has developed into tropical cyclone Laurence, the first tropical cyclone of the season.

The 48 hours from 9am Friday to 9am Sunday has seen a whopping 294mm of rainfall over Darwin, well over the monthly average.

This represents the highest two-day total for Darwin in eleven years.

Strong winds and thunderstorms accompanied this extreme weather, leaving the city with widespread power outages and storm flooded roads.

Laurence has dumped a very high amount of rain on Darwin and continues to pound the Kimberly coast.

Tropical Cyclone Laurence bears down on Kimberley coast (Perth Now)
NORTHERN communities including Wyndham, Oombulgurri and Kalumburu have been put on blue alert as tropical cyclone Laurence bears down on the Kimberley
coast.

Residents from the Mitchell Plateau to Wyndham have been warned to prepare for dangerous weather - meaning they should secure or remove loose material from around the home. This also involves ensuring that emergency kits are complete and checking that the family knows what to do.

At 2pm, the Category 1 cyclone was about 230km northeast of Kalumburu.

It is moving west-northwest at 15km/h.TC Laurence is expected to move parallel to the north Kimberley coast. Gales of 100km/h may develop in this area tomorrow.


I admit I am unfamiliar with the physics of cyclones in the southern hemisphere. Cyclones rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the north. In a northern hemisphere storm, the northeast quadrant of the storm contains the most severe weather. I do not know where the heaviest weather is in a southern hemisphere storm. I ask my readers to please comment and bring me up to speed on this.

If the southeast or southwestern quadrants of a southern cyclone is where the heaviest rain and wind is located, then the entire Kimberly coast is being pounded heavily by the deluge of rain brought on by Laurence.

The biggest concern is if Laurence makes a sudden turn to the south. The Kimberly coast is relatively sparsely populated so the damage would be minimal but further to the west the populations increases. If Laurence stays over water until it reaches a larger population center and then turns south, the results could be much worse.

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