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Monica strengthening as she approaches Queensland

A month doesn't seem like much of a break to the residents of northern Queensland. Larry, Floyd, Glenda, Hubert, and now Monica are all names that have the same impact in Australia as Cindy, Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma have in the United States.

Last night's forecast of strengthening of Monica as she approaches the coast seems right on target as Monica is now a category 3 cyclone barreling towards northern Queensland. Cyclone Watches and Warnings are in effect for all of Cape York and those in the path of the cyclone should finish preparations now.

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Satellite imagery indicates that Monica has clearly strengthened in the last 12 hours. The latest advisory lists Monica as a Category 3 cyclone with a central pressure of 970 mb. An eye is clearly forming in the infrared satellite imagery, microwave imagery depicts the presence of a tight core and strong banding, and additional strengthening is likely before landfall.

View infrared satellite image

Model guidance is very consistent calling for additional strengthening prior to a landfall close to Lockhart River. All but one of the dynamic models continue to call for Monica to cross over the Cape York peninsula enter and the Gulf of Carpentaria on Wednesday night. At this point a second landfall over the Northern Territory is a clear possibility that is also backed up by American global model ensembles.

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View American track ensemble

Here is the latest advisory from the Bureau of Meteorology

Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 10:58pm on Tuesday the 18th of April 2006

A CYCLONE WARNING is current for coastal and island communities between Torres Strait and Cape Flattery, extending across Cape York Peninsula to all areas north of Pormpuraaw.

A CYCLONE WATCH is current south to a line from Cooktown on the east coast to Kowanyama on the west coast. A CYCLONE WATCH has also been issued for Northern Territory coastal and island communities between Groote Eylandt and Elcho Island including Nhulunbuy.

At 10 pm EST, Severe Tropical Cyclone Monica, Category 3, was centred near latitude 13.0 south longitude 145.6 east, which is 280 kilometres north of Cooktown and 230 kilometres east of Lockhart River. The cyclone is moving west at about 18 km/h.

Tropical Cyclone Monica is expected to intensify further overnight and continue moving on a general westward track. DESTRUCTIVE WINDS with gusts above 130 km/h may develop between Cape Melville and Cape Flattery including Lizard Island tonight, and should extend onto the coast between Torres Strait and Cape Melville from early Wednesday morning.

The VERY DESTRUCTIVE core of Monica with wind gusts up to 220 km/hr is expected to cross the coast in the general area of Lockhart River late Wednesday morning.

Tropical Cyclone Monica is expected to continue moving westwards across Cape York Peninsula later Wednesday and into the Gulf of Carpentaria early on Thursday. Gales may develop about the Northern Territory coast between Groote Eylandt and Elcho Island, including Nhulunbuy, late Thursday night.

Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone Monica, Category 3, for 10 pm EST Tuesday.
Central Pressure : 970 Hectopascals
Location of Centre : within 40 kilometres of
latitude 13.0 degrees south
longitude 145.6 degrees east
230 km east of Lockhart River.
Recent Movement : West at 18 kilometres per hour
Destructive winds : out to 75 kilometres from the centre
Maximum wind gusts : 180 kilometres per hour, and INTENSIFYING.

People in communities in Torres Strait and over Cape York Peninsula north of a line from Pormpuraaw to Cape Flattery should complete preparations quickly and be prepared to shelter in a safe place.

Coastal residents between Cape Grenville and Cape Melville are specifically warned of the dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast. The sea is likely to rise steadily up to a level significantly above the normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying areas extending some way inland. People living in areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property as much as possible and be prepared to follow
instructions regarding evacuation of the area if advised to do so by the authorities.

People in the watch area should consider what action they will need to take if the cyclone threat increases and listen to the next advice at 2 am EST Wednesday. If you are unsure about actions to be taken, information is available from your local Police or State Emergency Service personnel.

Posted by Bryan Woods | Permalink