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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Cyclone Rusty: Case Study

Cyclone Rusty is hitting the North west Coast of Australia today.

You can follow the storm's progress live here.

It started out as a tropical storm in the pacific last weekend (video) and has become more organised into a tropical cyclone, potentially category 4.

It was upgraded to a category four storm early on Wednesday, one notch short of the top category.
At its centre, it had intensified to a strength of 230km/h (143mph), with satellite data indicating the eye of the storm was 20 nautical miles wide, Australian media reported.

600mm of rain is being forecast in a 24 hour period. Given that the UK averages somewhere around the 900mm mark per year, that is a significant amount.

Some of Rusty's other terrifying statistics

  • Winds of at least 230km/h
  • Cloud temperatures colder than -52C surrounding the eye of the storm
  • Recorded rainfall of over 138 millimetres per hour near Rusty's western side
  • Thunderstorms in Rusty's eye reported to have reaching heights of over 12km (7 miles)

Early video as the storm approached:

BBC Video of the storm's predicted path

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has predicted the storm's likely path and has issued warnings for the various hazards that it may bring. See them HERE

 You can See BBC Video of residents preparing as storm makes its initial landfall HERE

The Pilbara region, close to where Rusty has hit, is the world's largest source of Iron Ore. Residents in the area have also prepared to be locked indoors for a few days as they prepare for the storm to pass over. Video

The slow movement of the storm is a concern as it may amplify the flooding and storm surge hazards it will bring. Web Article The residents should be fairly well prepared since the area has experienced gale-force winds from 49 cyclones, seven of which caused destructive gusts in excess of 170 km/h [106 mph]. Cyclone Joan produced the strongest gusts ever recorded at Port Hedland -208 km/h [130 mph] in 1975.

The most destructive tropical cyclone to strike the area since Joan in 1975 was George, which delivered wind gusts estimated to have reached around 200 km/h [125 mph] in March 2007. In the Port Hedland area most residential and commercial structures performed well, and structural damage was sustained by fewer than 2 percent of buildings, most of which proved to have weaknesses due to poor maintenance.

The reports:

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned there was a possible threat to lives and homes in Marble Bar, Nullagine and De Grey Station because of rising rivers and streams.

Residents near the Yule and Turner river catchments near Port Hedland were also preparing for flooding.
The bureau’s Neil Bennett said a 3.5m to 4m storm surge was predicted, which could increase to 10m if Rusty crossed at high tide at midday.
“But it’s likely to cross later in the day, so it’s going to be bad but not the worst it could be,” he said.
“This is a nasty system.
“It’s going to lead to issues with flooding, roads being cut, structural damage, power lines are likely to be down and add that to the water everywhere and that’s going to be a dangerous environment for people to be moving around in.”
Mr Daccache said a 4m surge would inundate the town’s west end. “We’ve got pumps ready to flush the water out as quickly as we can,” he said.

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