Stormy Down Under

  • Forecast rainfall amounts through the next 48 hours (ECMWF), with the current location of Tropical Cyclones Olwyn and Nathan.

    Expected track of Tropical Cyclone Olwyn, courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

    Expected track of Tropical Cyclone Nathan, courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

  • Stormy Down Under
    12.03.2015 15:56

    Severe weather is ongoing across parts of Australia at the moment, with two separate tropical cyclones bringing torrential rain and damaging winds in places. The tropical cyclone season officially runs from 1st November to 30th April and there have been six named storms so far, two of which made landfall as significant and well-developed cyclones.

    The first named system was Bakung, which initially developed on 10th December 2014 in the Eastern Indian Ocean north-east of the Cocos Islands and spent its life cycle offshore. The next named system was Kate around a week later (21st December) which developed in a similar region to Bakung, intensifying into a severe tropical cyclone but also spending its life cycle offshore.

    A couple of weak systems emerged in January, but February saw an upturn in activity as a pair of cyclones developed within days of each other. The first was Severe Cyclone Lam, which started as a weak disturbance on 12th February over the Coral Sea before moving west into the Gulf of Carpentaria and intensifying. On making landfall on Northern Territory, the associated torrential rain set daily rainfall records in places and storm force winds displaced thousands of people. The total cost was estimated to be A$82 million. Shortly after (16th February), another tropical disturbance in the Coral Sea intensified to become Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia. This made landfall over central Queensland, causing power outages to tens of thousands of homes along with significant structural damage in places.

    At the end of last week (8th March), a rather poorly organised area of low pressure formed offshore from Western Australia before developing into a more recognised tropical depression early this week. In the past 36 hours it has intensified further into a named system, Olwyn. Currently tracking S/SW, it is due to make landfall within the next 12-24 hours with peak wind gusts forecast to be near 100mph. Torrential rain will also bring the risk of flooding to north-western parts of Western Australia on Friday 13th March, before the heavy rain transfers southwards in the region on Saturday as the system weakens moving over land.

    Meanwhile, Tropical Cyclone Nathan has been slow-moving over the past few days in the Coral Sea, with associated rain bands circulating around its centre and afflicting parts of Queensland. In particular, the Cape York peninsula has been deluged, with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reporting that some parts have recorded more than 400mm of rain in the past 48 hours. Heavy rain and storm force winds will still be a threat over the next 24 hours, but the hazards will recede as the cyclone tracks eastwards and further offshore this weekend.

    Remember to track the progress of tropical cyclones using the interactive features on MeteoEarth.


    By: Nick Prebble