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Monica again threatens Australia, now very strong Category 5

UPDATE: 04/24/06 11:45am Monica has made landfall as a category 5 cyclone over the Northern Territory. For more information see the latest post.

This situation remains dire along the north coast of Australia. It is hard to imagine a worse situation in this area as Australian cyclones almost never reach this strength. Monica is currently much stronger than 1974's Cyclone Tracy which is the benchmark storm for Australia. As far as I can tell, Monica may be the most intense cyclone to ever impact the region or even Australia. However, records are hard to find. After striking Queensland a few days ago, Monica has crossed Gulf of Carpentaria and is strafing the coast of the Northern Territory. All of this comes as part of a recent string of cyclone strikes across the country. The latest advisory from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center lists Monica as a category 5 cyclone with sustained wind of 155 knots (178 mph) and a central pressure of 879 mb. This is an incredibly powerful cylone that actually is stronger than Hurrican Wilma (the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic).

Monica recently passed over Australia's Wessel Islands. At 879 mb, Monica is stronger than the dreaded hurricanes Wilma, Katrina and Rita or any other Atlantic hurricane ever were, never mind at landfall. The symmetry seen is Monica is flawless and it is rare to every see a tropical system look so well-defined. For reference, average sea-level pressure is 1013.25 mb and the lowest pressure ever recorded was 870 mb in Typhoon Tip, but I will mention this again later.

View infrared satellite image

View visible satellite image

The latest advisory from the Darwin office of the Bureau of Meteorology lists the details below. Please note that their pressure seems erroneously high. However, they are indicating wind gusts up to 350 km/hr (218 mph)!

Details of SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE Monica at 10 am CST:
. Centre located near...... 11.4 degrees South 135.2 degrees East
. Location accuracy........ within 30 kilometres
. Recent movement.......... towards the west at 11 km/h
. Wind gusts near centre... 350 kilometres per hour
. Intensity................ CATEGORY 5
. Central pressure......... 915 hectoPascals


View threat map

On the other side from the Bureau of Meteorology, satellite based intensity estimates rank Monica as being much stronger than advisories indicate. If the satellite estimates are true, Monica has become the most intense storm ever recorded in the entire world. However, in this area the estimates tend to be about 10 mb too strong. While not the strongest storm ever recorded, it certainly beats anything ever seen in the Atlantic.

Date : 24 APR 2006 Time : 003300 UTC
Lat : 11:27:25 S Lon : 135:04:23 E

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
8.0 / 868.5mb/170.0kt (196 mph)

Latitude bias adjustment to MSLP : +10.5mb
Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 20.0km

Monica is now impacting the Northern and will continue to ride along the coast. The Wessel Islands have already borne the brunt of the cyclone.

View track forecast

Monica is showing up well on the weather radar in the city of Gove. Heavy rains remain just along the shore shore and weakening is unlikely as the cyclone remains over warm water, and wind shear is low. No double eyewall is evident on the satellite imagery, but cocentric eyewalls are clearly indicated on the Gove radar, raising the possibility of eyewall replacement cycles modulating Monica's intensity over the next day.

View Gove weather radar

The models are very consistent with a track just along the northern coast turning inland near Darwin. Such a pass by a category 5 cyclone along the coast would be very devastating to the whole region. Darwin residents should be prepared for a strike on Tuesday.

View model track forecast

The American model ensemble forecasts are very consistent with the other models. This leaves little doubt to the destructive path that Monica is likely to take right over Darwin, the region's largest city.

View American ensemble forecast tracks

The models also indicate likely future intensification. With Monica already being an incredible category 5 cyclone, a bad situation is likely to get worse if that is possible.


View model intensity forecast

Posted by Bryan Woods | Permalink