A new world record wind gust: 253 mph in Australia's Tropical Cyclone Olivia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:34 PM GMT on January 27, 2010

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The 6,288-foot peak of New Hampshire's Mount Washington is a forbidding landscape of wind-swept barren rock, home to some of planet Earth's fiercest winds. As a 5-year old boy, I remember being blown over by a terrific gust of wind on the summit, and rolling out of control towards a dangerous drop-off before a fortuitously-placed rock saved me. Perusing the Guinness Book of World Records as a kid, three iconic world weather records always held a particular mystique and fascination for me: the incredible 136°F (57.8°C) at El Azizia, Libya in 1922, the -128.5°F (-89.2°C) at the "Pole of Cold" in Vostok, Antarctica in 1983, and the amazing 231 mph wind gust (103.3 m/s) recorded in 1934 on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Well, the legendary winds of Mount Washington have to take second place now, next to the tropical waters of northwest Australia. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that the new world wind speed record at the surface is a 253 mph (113.2 m/s) wind gust measured on Barrow Island, Australia. The gust occurred on April 10, 1996, during passage of the eyewall of Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Olivia.


Figure 1. Instruments coated with rime ice on the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. Image credit: Mike Theiss.

Tropical Cyclone Olivia
Tropical Cyclone Olivia was a Category 4 storm on the U.S. Saffir-Simpson scale, and generated sustained winds of 145 mph (1-minute average) as it crossed over Barrow Island off the northwest coast of Australia on April 10, 1996. Olivia had a central pressure of 927 mb and an eye 45 miles in diameter at the time, and generated waves 21 meters (69 feet) high offshore. According to Black et al. (1999), the eyewall likely had a tornado-scale mesovortex embedded in it that caused the extreme wind gust of 253 mph. The gust was measured at the standard measuring height of 10 meters above ground, on ground at an elevation of 64 meters (210 feet). A similar mesovortex was encountered by a Hurricane Hunter aircraft in Hurricane Hugo of 1989, and a mesovortex was also believed to be responsible for the 239 mph wind gust measured at 1400 meters by a dropsonde in Hurricane Isabel in 2003. For reference, 200 mph is the threshold for the strongest category of tornado, the EF-5, and any gusts of this strength are capable of causing catastrophic damage.


Figure 2. Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Olivia a few hours before it crossed Barrow Island, Australia, setting a new world-record wind gust of 253 mph. Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.


Figure 3. Wind trace taken at Barrow Island, Australia during Tropical Cyclone Olivia. Image credit: Buchan, S.J., P.G. Black, and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Impact of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on Australia's Northwest Shelf", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Why did it take so long for the new record to be announced?
The instrument used to take the world record wind gust was funded by a private company, Chevron, and Chevron's data was not made available to forecasters at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) during the storm. After the storm, the tropical cyclone experts at BOM were made aware of the data, but it was viewed as suspect, since the gusts were so extreme and the data was taken with equipment of unknown accuracy. Hence, the observations were not included in the post-storm report. Steve Buchan from RPS MetOcean believed in the accuracy of the observations, and coauthored a paper on the record gust, presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston (Buchan et al., 1999). The data lay dormant until 2009, when Joe Courtney of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology was made aware of it. Courtney wrote up a report, coauthored with Steve Buchan, and presented this to the WMO extremes committee for ratification. The report has not been made public yet, and is awaiting approval by Chevron. The verified data will be released next month at a World Meteorological Organization meeting in Turkey, when the new world wind record will become official.

New Hampshire residents are not happy
Residents of New Hampshire are understandably not too happy about losing their cherished claim to fame. The current home page of the Mount Washington Observatory reads, "For once, the big news on Mount Washington isn't our extreme weather. Sadly, it's about how our extreme weather--our world record wind speed, to be exact--was outdone by that of a warm, tropical island".

Comparison with other wind records
Top wind in an Atlantic hurricane: 239 mph (107 m/s) at an altitude of 1400 meters, measured by dropsonde in Hurricane Isabel (2003).
Top surface wind in an Atlantic hurricane: 211 mph (94.4 m/s), Hurricane Gustav, Paso Real de San Diego meteorological station in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on the afternoon of August 30, 2008.
Top wind in a tornado: 302 mph (135 m/s), measured via Doppler radar at an altitude of 100 meters (330 feet), in the Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado of May 3, 1999.
Top surface wind not associated with a tropical cyclone or tornado: 231 mph (103.3 m/s), April 12, 1934 on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire.
Top wind in a typhoon: 191 mph (85.4 m/s) on Taiwanese Island of Lanyu, Super Typhoon Ryan, Sep 22, 1995; also on island of Miyakojima, Super Typhoon Cora, Sep 5, 1966.
Top surface wind not measured on a mountain or in a tropical cyclone: 207 mph (92.5 m/s) measured in Greenland at Thule Air Force Base on March 6, 1972.
Top wind measured in a U.S. hurricane: 186 mph (83.1 m/s) measured at Blue Hill Observatory, Massachusetts, during the 1938 New England Hurricane.

References
Buchan, S.J., P.G. Black, and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Impact of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on Australia's Northwest Shelf", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Black, P.G., Buchan, S.J., and R.L. Cohen, 1999, "The Tropical Cyclone Eyewall Mesovortex: A Physical Mechanism Explaining Extreme Peak Gust Occurrence in TC Olivia, 4 April 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia", paper presented at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, 3-6 May, 1999.

Jeff Masters

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Excerpt from SHORT RANGE FORECAST DISCUSSION

VALID 12Z FRI JAN 29 2010 - 00Z SUN JAN 31 2010

LOCATIONS ACROSS NORTH CAROLINA AND SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE THEIR HEAVIEST SNOWFALL IN 10 TO 20 YEARS.

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683. IKE
Quoting NEwxguy:


LOL,you really are bored aren't you???


LOL.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Snow... FL Panhandle??


When?
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Snow... FL Panhandle??
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Quoting IKE:
And some will come on here and agree with him blaming the US for GW. Which will lead to more arguments and bans....get ready! he-he.


LOL,you really are bored aren't you???
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
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It looks like somebody is going to get a ton of snow! Gasparilla may get rained on in Tampa. I can tell you one thing, I certainly wouldn't want to be on a boat tomorrow.
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676. MTWX
Quoting largeeyes:
Can't tell yet if it's going to be rain or ice here in New Bern....gonna be an interesting 48 hours.


Same here in MS. Don't know whether its going to rain, freeze, or snow!!
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Can't tell yet if it's going to be rain or ice here in New Bern....gonna be an interesting 48 hours.
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TC OLGA IS BACK



TROPICAL CYCLONE ADVICE NUMBER 46
Issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Brisbane
Issued at 11:09pm EST on Friday the 29th of January 2010

A Cyclone WARNING is current for coastal and island communities from Port
McArthur in the Northern Territory to Kowanyama in Queensland extending inland
to Croydon in Queensland.

At 10:00 pm EST [9:30 pm CST] Tropical Cyclone Olga, Category 1 was estimated to
be 55 kilometres north northwest of Mornington Is and 250 kilometres east of
Port McArthur, moving east at 27 kilometres per hour.

Tropical Cyclone Olga is expected to intensify overnight as it follows an east
southeastward track across the Gulf of Carpentaria.

DESTRUCTIVE WINDS may develop on the coast between about Burketown and Karumba
during Saturday morning.

GALES are expected to develop between Port McArthur and Kowanyama, including
Mornington Island overnight.

HEAVY RAIN may lead to significant stream rises and flooding of low-lying areas
in the far eastern parts of the Roper-McArthur District in the Northern
Territory and Gulf Country in Queensland.

ABNORMALLY HIGH TIDES are occurring along the Queensland Gulf of Carpentaria
coast and adjacent islands and are expected to exceed the high water mark at
high tide over the next few days.

People between Port McArthur in the Northern Territory and Kowanyama in
Queensland, including Mornington Island, should take precautions and listen to
the next advice. If you are unsure about precautions to be taken, information is
available from your local government or local State Emergency Service.

Details of Tropical Cyclone Olga at 10:00 pm EST [9:30 pm CST]:
.Centre located near...... 16.2 degrees South 138.9 degrees East
.Location accuracy........ within 35 kilometres
.Recent movement.......... towards the east at 27 kilometres per hour
.Wind gusts near centre... 95 kilometres per hour
.Category........ 1
.Central pressure......... 987 hectoPascals

The next advice will be issued by 2:00 am EST Saturday 30 January [1:30 am CST
Saturday 30 January].
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673. IKE
And some will come on here and agree with him blaming the US for GW. Which will lead to more arguments and bans....get ready! he-he.
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670. IKE
Now I've seen it all.....Link

CAIRO (AP) -- Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming, according to a new audiotape released Friday.
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Totally free way to do your good deed for the day:

Please post or send your recipes for the Portlight Cookbook.

RMM34667's WunderBlog
RECIPE4RELIEF@AOL.COM
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TGIF, everyone!

There's a decadently yummy 2-lb. box of hand-dipped chocolates up for auction on NRAamy's blog -- you know, the one with the Purple Hippo avatar -- 100 percent of all proceeds go to PORTLIGHT!

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morning all
10F with a wind chill of -9 and winds gusting to 37mph. They say we wont see the freezing mark till next week
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-23C here in Vasa, Finland.

Painful.
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Thank you for the sanity jflorida
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Morning all. It's cool and clear out - 68 degrees - with prospects of an 82 deg high later today.

Glad to leave the deep cold behind, though it looks like we are likely to have one more cold spell before winter is over...

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It looks like models have backed off on the extended rain next week to just Thursday ahead of a potent cold front(as it stands severe weather looks more likely then flooding concerns).

Something definitely to keep an eye on in Florida Peninsula(especially central Florida)!
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illegitimate snowfall patterns - i hope this makes sense ;)
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21.2degree temp drop in 24 hrs temps down to 3.5f now compared too 24 f this time last night
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Quoting aspectre:"
I can sense some agreement here.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


It was my junior year in high school when this occured and we were shocked by just how bad things got once the sun went down.
Thank you for your kindness and why we are here on this blog!
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Since it's been such a tough, serious week, I'm posting Friday night entertainment a day early.
img src="" alt="" />
And this is weather related because that is a mean lookin' front travelin' across Texas right now!
Talk about the wild west!
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589 Ossqss: "Interesting tool :)"

"Note - older image does not show snow."

Ah the good ol' days, when eskimos could hula around near nekkid in their little grass skirts...
...oh wait...that was three days ago.

RUN!!! RUN!!! The glaciers are coming! The glaciers are coming!

Well at least we won't hafta argue about anthropogenic GlobalWarming anymore, what with man and all his works being buried under glaciers by next Monday.
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648. MTWX
SPC is looking at extending the Tornado Watch/ Issueing a new watch shortly...Link
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Evening Everyone.

Here she comes...
Link
Tornado Watch 14 remains in effect until 1000 PM CST for the
following locations


TX
. Texas counties included are

Bandera blanco Burnet
Concho Edwards Gillespie
Kendall Kerr Kimble
Kinney Llano McCulloch
Mason Menard real
San Saba Schleicher Sutton
Uvalde Val Verde

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Quoting Jeff9641:


Really! well I can tell you I personally lost friends of mine to the tornadoes of 2/23/98 in Sanford, FL. and I can tell you that this is a possibility.

http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/gfs/18/fp0_180.shtml
Yes this is what This blog is for to save lives!!
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Quoting mossyhead:
If it is a copyright item, then it is a law that supports the NFL. They can be fined for using a copyrighted item. They cannot ignore it. And my understanding is it is copyrighted. Read up on the copyright law and you can get fined heavily for using somebody else's copyrighted material.



I understand the copyright laws, which is why I stated "If this actually stops people from selling them, I GUARANTEE there will be more hand made items than you can even imagine".
And I'm pretty sure the NOPD will be too busy to waste time raiding stores. And if the NFL pursues this, they are going to open a can of worms as to ownership. Wikipedia article.
And I find it a little interesting that after all these years, they wait until now. Can you say greedy NFL!!!!!
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BarometerBob show
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portlight.org


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640. beell
Quoting mossyhead:
If it is a copyright item, then it is a law that supports the NFL. They can be fined for using a copyrighted item. They cannot ignore it. And my understanding is it is copyrighted. Read up on the copyright law and you can get fined heavily for using somebody else's copyrighted material.


Who dat owns who dat. NFL is not who dat.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56007
does anyone know what time press is on nbc tonight?
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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