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Winds from hurricanes, typhoons, tropical cyclones and land gales

Tropical Cyclone Niran approaches New Caledonia – 6 March 2021

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Tropical Cyclone Niran approaches New Caledonia - 6 March 2021

Tropical Cyclone Niran has defied the initial forecasts of Monday and has become a much stronger storm than initially expected. Instead of reaching a peak maximum intensity as a Category 2 storm on the Saffir Simpson Scale, this storm progressed into a Category 3 system as it crossed the Coral Sea away from the Queensland Coast.

Tropical Cyclone Niran approaches New Caledonia - 6 March 2021

This storm then developed further to a Category 5 storm across open waters but has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm on the Saffir Simpson Scale. The tropical cyclone is currently sustaining wind gusts of 130 knots (Approximately 241 km/h) at the core and is moving fast at approximately 37 km/h towards the south east and towards New Caledonia.

Tropical Cyclone Niran approaches New Caledonia - 6 March 2021

The island of New Caledonia is currently under significant threat, especially for the area along the south west coast due to its proximity to the island but may pass just to the south and south west of the island. The south west coastline is expected to come under significant threat of gale force winds and heavy rain over coming hours.

Tropical Cyclone Niran approaches New Caledonia - 6 March 2021

Once the storm clears the coastline, it is expected that the storm will decline in intensity and weaken to a depression by Sunday and Monday.

Tropical Cyclone Niran approaches New Caledonia - 6 March 2021

The Worldview images show a small compact tropical cyclone with visible convection (Cumulonimbus clouds) and a very small eye of approximately 20 km in diameter. To date this season, this is by far the strongest storm to develop within Australian waters.

The images are taken from Worldview (NASA) dated 5/3/2021, Himawari and CIMSS generally at the time the storm is within its strongest phase.

Tropical Cyclone Niran – NE Queensland – 28 February to the 3 March 2021

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Tropical Cyclone Niran - NE Queensland - 28 February to the 3 March 2021

As expected, the tropical depression off the North East Queensland Coast developed into a tropical cyclone late Tuesday and was named Niran.

Tropical Cyclone Niran - NE Queensland - 28 February to the 3 March 2021
Tropical Cyclone Niran - NE Queensland - 28 February to the 3 March 2021

However, the development of the storm has occurred far enough out to sea and as such, its impact onto the coastline has been relatively limited to small areas. Forecast models suggest the storm will now track further to the south east and away from the coastline.

Tropical Cyclone Niran - NE Queensland - 28 February to the 3 March 2021
Tropical Cyclone Niran - NE Queensland - 28 February to the 3 March 2021

The storm which at the time was a tropical depression and later upgraded to a tropical storm (Tropical Storm 23 by CIMSS) had its greatest impact on the Queensland coastline during the Sunday to Tuesday period. During its development, there were two weather stations that were close enough to the core that recorded the following peak wind gusts:-

1 - Arlington Reef - Peak wind gusts of 117 km/h at 2.50 pm and 2.52 pm - 1/3/2021. This weather station also recorded two additional peak gusts of 115 km/h at 5 pm and 6.30 pm on the same day.

Bougainville Reef - A peak wind gust of 109 km/h occurred at 6 pm and 6.30 pm - 2/3/2021.

Both weather stations are located offshore. While there are reports of banana crops being damaged or lost and some structural damage along the affected coast, the strongest wind gusts occurred mainly offshore and thus damage is much less than what it could have been had the storm been closer to the coast.

Rainfall - For the 24 hours to 9 am - 2 March 2021

The storm produced significant rainfall along the coastal fringe with the following occurring:-

Clump Point - 276 mm.

Crowley Beach and South Mission Beach - 216 mm.

Clyde - 186 mm.

Saltwater Creek Alert - 177 mm.

Bucklands - 176 mm.

Being the highest totals.

Rainfall - For the 24 hours to 9 am - 1 March 2021

The storm produced significant rainfall along the coastal fringe with the following occurring:-

Alva Beach - 219.4 mm.

Ayr - 196 mm.

Lucinda Post Office - 186 mm.

Groper Creek Alert - 183 mm.

Halifax Alert - 160 mm.

Being amongst the highest totals.

The regions affected by the high rainfall totals are limited to small areas south of Cairns and around Innisfail and Lucinda.

Tropical Cyclone Niran - NE Queensland - 28 February to the 3 March 2021

The storm developed into a tropical cyclone late Tuesday afternoon as it slowly moved further from the coast. The CIMSS forecast models shows the storm travelling further towards the south east. It is currently passing over waters around 28C to 29C but will encounter colder waters further south. It is suggested that it will reach maximum intensity as a Category Two system with peak wind gusts at the core of approximately 167 km/h but occurring well out to sea. The storm is expected to weaken once it encounters colder waters.

Potential tropical cyclone – NE Queensland – 28 February to 3 March 2021

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Potential tropical cyclone - NE Queensland - 28 February to 3 March 2021

A tropical depression off the north east Queensland coast north east of Mackay and east of Townsville has gained strength overnight and is now under watch for further development into a tropical cyclone.

CIMSS has this storm under investigation as a “Tropical Depression”. There is now distinct circulation close to the core and strong convection (Cumulonimbus clouds) is also visible on satellite photos. The storm presently does not have a distinct eye and its future development now depends on its proximity to the Queensland coast.

Potential tropical cyclone - NE Queensland - 28 February to 3 March 2021
Potential tropical cyclone - NE Queensland - 28 February to 3 March 2021

Offshore weather stations close to the core being:-

  1. Willis Island.
  2. Flinders Island.
  3. Homes Reef.

Are reporting maximum wind gusts of between 39 km/h and 76 km/h.  At the time of writing, the core of the storm is offshore and situated between all three weather stations mentioned above.

Potential tropical cyclone - NE Queensland - 28 February to 3 March 2021

The Flinders Island Weather Station to the south of the core has reported the strongest wind gusts to date being 76 km/h between 1.13 am and 1.30 am 28/2/2021.

Potential tropical cyclone - NE Queensland - 28 February to 3 March 2021

A weather station at Hamilton Island further away to the south west has recorded two peak wind gusts of 82 km/h at 7 am and 7.02 am 28/2/2021.

This storm appears to be moving south east and if it continues that direction, then the storm would remain offshore but at the present time a detailed forecast track has not been developed and at Sunday morning, a tropical cyclone watch had not even been issued.

The system including the monsoonal low within the area has brought some high rainfall totals including:-

Lower Gregory Alert 118 mm.

Preston Alert 112 mm

Up River Road 104 mm.

For the 24 hours to 9 am 28/2/2021 but such rainfall is localized to small areas of the Queensland Coast.

The images attached to this article are taken from CIMSS and Himawari-8 which clearly shows how close the storm is to the Queensland Coast.

Its development will continue to be watched due to its proximity to the coastline.

Addendum 28/2/2021 - Further developments

Since the publication of the above storey, the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a Tropical Cyclone advice for an area between Cape Flattery to Lucinda including Cairns for a possible tropical cyclone to develop in coming days. The storm at the time of issue of the advice at 11.33 am Sunday morning was located approximately 270 km east of Cairns and moving south west at 15 km per hour. However landfall was not expected.

Sea surface temperatures are around 29C off Cairns which would support a tropical cyclone in the range of Category 2 (possibly Category 3).

Another weather station close to the core of the storm being Holmes Reef has reported a peak wind gust of 76 km/h Sunday afternoon which gives an indication of its current strength.

The storm is forecast to develop further into a tropical cyclone during Tuesday 2 March 2021.

The main issue at the current time is heavy rain and flooding of coastal rivers and the highest rainfall to 4 pm Sunday afternoon is 52 mm at Alva Beach. Flood watches have been issued for the coastal areas and rivers due to forecast rainfall for the region.

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