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Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia

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Tropical Cyclone Marcia has developed in the central Coral Sea.

Tropical Cyclone Advice Number 4.
Headline:
Tropical Cyclone Marcia has developed and may intensify to a category 2 before landfall.

Areas affected:
Warning zone: Sarina to Double Island Point.

Watch zone: Adjacent inland areas from Yeppoon to Double Island Point.

Details of Tropical Cyclone Marcia at 7:00 pm EST:
Intensity: category 1, sustained winds near the centre of 65 kilometres per hour with wind gusts to 95 kilometres per hour.
Location: within 110 kilometres of 17.6 degrees South, 155.0 degrees East , 760 kilometres northeast of Yeppoon and 850 kilometres north northeast of Bundaberg .
Movement: southwest at 22 kilometres per hour .

Tropical Cyclone Marcia has developed over the central Coral Sea, and is slowly strengthening. During today, the system curved onto a southwesterly track, and it is expected to maintain this general motion through to landfall on the eastern Queensland coast between St Lawrence and Hervey Bay early on Friday. Marcia is expected to slowly intensify, with a high chance of reaching category 2 intensisty by landfall.

A separate Severe Weather Warning is current for areas south of St Lawrence and west to the Great Dividing Range.

Hazards:
GALES are expected to develop about coastal and island communities between Sarina and Double Island Point on Thursday during the late afternoon or evening. Destructive wind gusts to 150 km/hr may develop about the coast and islands near the centre on Friday morning.

Heavy rainfall will develop about coastal and island communities between Sarina and Double Island Point during Thursday, particularly over areas to the south of the system. A Flood Watch is current for the area.

Abnormally high tides will be experienced on Thursday with water levels expected to rise above the highest tide of the year on the high tide.

Coastal residents between St Lawrence and Double Island Point 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 well above the normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying areas close to the shoreline. 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.

Dangerous surf is expected to develop about exposed beaches south of Sandy Cape from early Thursday.


TROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST TRACK MAP
Issued at 8:04 pm EST Wednesday 18 February 2015.

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Yep, we have another cyclone in Australian waters. Ridging to the southeast looks to remain the primary steering influence for Marcia, maintaining a southwesterly track until landfall. Winds are currently at 40kts (1-min sustained). Strengthening appears likely as shear is now lessening.

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At 1800 UTC 20150218 central pressure 993 hPa, position South 19.1 East 153.1, movement south west at 17 knots, wind (10 minute) 40 knots, radius of maximum winds 15 nautical miles.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST TRACK MAP
Issued at 4:56 am EST Thursday 19 February 2015. Refer to Tropical Cyclone Advice Number 7.

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Marcia has intensified under low north easterly vertical wind shear. Looks like it might impact the coast as a cat 3 severe tropical cyclone tomorrow (Friday) morning.

At 0000 UTC central pressure 991 hPa position South 19.9 East 152.1, movement south west at 12 knots, wind (10 minute) 50 knots, radius of maximum winds 15 nautical miles.

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Marcia has bombed overnight, and winds have rocketed up to 90kts (1-min sustained). Marcia has developed a fairly clear eye, embedded in the central dense overcast. Tjis makes Marcia much more of a significant threat unfortunately.

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I don't have enough knowledge to join in with the technical discussion here (as good as it is)... but senior BOM spokesperson at joint media conference with the Queensland premier has just said he won't rule out Marcia becoming category 5 when it makes landfall. This was an answer to a journalists question. Looking at the latest track, it will cross in a remote region, so limited threat to property or lives. 

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Marcia has certainly upped the ante. From being considered a cat 2 risk it's rapidly intensified into a cat 4 risk and  as Styx mentions there's a possibility of it even getting to cat 5. Low vertical wind shear and no land interaction are assisting the intensification.

At 0700 UTC central pressure 958 hPa position South 20.6 East 150.7, movement west south west at 12 knots, wind (10 minute) 85 knots, radius of maximum winds 20 nautical miles.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST TRACK MAP
Issued at 5:56 pm EST Thursday 19 February 2015.
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Mackay radar 256 km 0840 UTC 20150218
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At 1200 UTC central pressure 940 hPa position South 20.8 East 150.6, movement south west at 4 knots, wind (10 minute) 105 knots, radius of maximum winds 20 nautical miles, radius of 64 knot winds 25 nautical miles.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST TRACK MAP
Issued at 10:59 pm EST Thursday 19 February 2015.
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Mackay Radar 512 km 1310 UTC 20150219
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Track map for Marcia has been updated, now a cat 5 on impact with land.

 

ROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST TRACK MAP
Issued at 11:57 pm EST Thursday 19 February 2015.

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Marcia has certainly taken everyone by surprise, I remember the first forecasts by BOM indicating a brief cat 1 peak before landfall, now we are looking at a cat 5 (Australian scale) landfall!

Marcia is a cat 4 on the SS scale with 1 min-sustained winds of 115kts. Marcia probably won't make cat 5 on this scale, but a highly impressive storm nonetheless.

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Marcia has certainly taken everyone by surprise, I remember the first forecasts by BOM indicating a brief cat 1 peak before landfall, now we are looking at a cat 5 (Australian scale) landfall!

Marcia is a cat 4 on the SS scale with 1 min-sustained winds of 115kts. Marcia probably won't make cat 5 on this scale, but a highly impressive storm nonetheless.

 

Yes, the cyclone has defintely caught the BOM and the JTWC off guard by putting up a round of such explosive deepening. The cyclone is now taking aim for land, so people there need to be well prepared. Fortunately, Marcia is quite small, so it will not impact a very large area on land.

 

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Satellite image of Marcia.

 

EDIT: added satellite intensity trend of CIMSS as an illustration for the rapid intensification Marcia underwent, increasing 65 kt in wind speed in just 24 hours.

 

13PP.GIF

 

Source:

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/floaters/13P/imagery/vis0-lalo.gif

http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/real-time/storm.php?&basin=austeast&sname=13P&invest=NO&zoom=4&img=1&vars=11111000000000000000&loop=0

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Apparently will be most severe cyclone ever recorded to cross the Queensland coast so far south. A category 5 cyclone in 1918 crossed Mackay ( about 200km/125 miles north ); that one is considered as the most southerly. 

 

Track shows eye making landfall just north of the coastal town of Yeppoon ( pop 16,000 ). Just heard a radio interview with a guy who plans to stay in his weatherboard home with his family and 'tough it out'. 

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As can be seen on Mackay radar, Marcia is crossing land which can be seen through the eye. With the smallness of the system it should dissipate rapidly.

At 1800 UTC 20150219 central pressure 929 hPa, position South 21.6 East 150.5, movement south at 7 knots, wind (10 minute) 110 knots, radius of maximum winds 20 nautical miles.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORECAST TRACK MAP
Issued at 6:59 am EST Friday 20 February 2015.
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Mackay Radar 256 km  2130 UTC 20150219
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Weatherboard houses are not ideal cyclone shelters. But it's hard to say, the owner may have reinforced the structure, did he make that comment? After TC Tracy some people in Darwin welded railway lines into their house structure.

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The remnant low of Marcia has re-emerged over water on a southeasterly track. JTWC are classifying it as a subtropical low, and forecast a turn to the north, back towards warmer waters and lower shear, where they say there is a low chance that ex-Marcia could become tropical again.

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But if it backtracks over its old path it'll be going over upwelled colder water which is where it's predicted to go. I happened to TC Hamish years back when it 'tried' to backtrack over its former path.

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Latest numbers:  1000 homes damaged, 350 homes currently uninhabitable due to structural damage, 12 homes were destroyed.

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