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Tropical Cyclone Ita Hammers Northeast Australia

By Chris Dolce
Published: April 12, 2014

Powerful Tropical Cyclone Ita (pronounced "EYE-tuh") made landfall in northeast Australia near Cape Flattery in the Queensland state late Friday night, local time (around 7 a.m. U.S. EDT).

Background

Ita Satellite

Ita Satellite

Ita Satellite

Ita Satellite

Tropical Cyclone Ita made landfall with 10-minute average sustained winds around 105 mph between 9 and 10 p.m. local time, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology. This would equate to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, after adjusting this wind speed to an equivalent one-minute sustained wind used as a standard in the U.S.

(FORECAST: Cairns | Cooktown | Port Douglas)

Cape Flattery measured a peak wind gust just shy of 99 mph at 9 p.m. local time Friday, and had already picked up over three inches of rain from Ita's outer rainbands and eyewall before observations ceased there around 10 p.m.

According to the Cairns Post, roof damage was reported to the James Cook Museum in Cooktown, as well as to several homes in the town. The peak wind gust clocked, there, was 76 mph.

Heavy rain and flooding is possible over parts of northeast Australia into Sunday as the center of the cyclone turns southeastward and heads back into ocean. 

Tropical cyclones are not uncommon in Australia. The Australia Bureau of Meteorology says that the season typically runs from November through April.

In fact, this part of northeast Australia is thought to hold the world record for highest storm surge from the 1899 Bathurst Bay Cyclone.

(DR. JEFF MASTERS BLOG: World Storm Surge Records)

The northwest coast of Australia has the most frequent encounters with tropical cyclones and averages about two landfalls each season. Intense Category 4 or Category 5 cyclones are most likely to occur in March and April.

Prior to heading towards Australia, Ita and the disturbed area of weather it formed from produced heavy rain and deadly flooding in the Solomon Islands

Ita then rapidly intensified from a strong Category 1 to a Category 4 equivalent cyclone in just 12 hours Thursday.


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