Published: 3:53 PM GMT on February 27, 2013
Tropical Cyclone Rusty rumbled ashore over the coast of northwest Australia near 06 UTC (1 am EST) on Wednesday near the small town of Pardoo, about 110 km east of the largest city in the region, Port Hedland. Rusty peaked at Category 2 strength with 110 mph winds about 12 hours before landfall, but weakened to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds as it approached the coast, due to interaction with land. Sustained winds as high as 55 mph, gusting to 74 mph, were observed observed at the Port Hedland airport as Rusty made its approach. Rusty has dumped over 7" of rain on the coast, and major flooding is expected on area rivers. No casualties and only minor damage have been reported thus far, and I expect total damage from the storm will be less than $100 million. Rusty is the strongest tropical cyclone to affect Australia so far in the 2012 - 2013 tropical cyclone season.
Figure 1. Tropical Cyclone Rusty at 03:40 UTC on February 27, 2013 as seen by NASA's Terra satellite. At the time, Rusty was two hours from making landfall on the northwest Australian coast near Pardoo as a Category 1 storm with sustained 90 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.
Figure 2. Radar image of Rusty showing the large cloud-free eye bumping up against the coast of Australia near Pardoo at 05:40 UTC (12:40 am EST) on Wednesday, February 27. image credit: Bureau of Meteorology.
Significant snowstorm continues over Midwest U.S.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the second major winter storm in a week continues to blanket the Midwest with significant snows. The snowstorm, dubbed "Rocky", gave Chicago 5.4" of snow, its heaviest snowfall of what has been a quiet winter. According to the latest NOAA Storm Summary, the heaviest snow in the Midwest from Rocky fell in the Texas Panhandle, where 21" was measured in Follett. While the precipitation from the two major winter storms during the past week will not come anywhere close to busting the Midwest drought, the moisture they dropped is probably worth billions to agriculture.
Figure 3. Two-day snowfall amounts from Winter Storm Rocky.