More storm misery threatens Australia

Friday 16th Mar 2012 by theWeather Club

Image: NASA

Two tropical storm systems are threatening Northern Australia today, and are so close to each other they were caught in the same satellite view. One has grown enough in strength to be given a name – Tropical Cyclone Lua – while the second, still known as System 96P, is still growing. It is this second storm system which is currently the more immediate threat though, being close enough to the coast to warrant warnings of high seas.NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the area at 05:39 GMT on 13th March and was able to capture both storms in a single image. Lua appears to the left of the image in the Southern Indian Ocean, with System 96P to the right, above the Southern Pacific Ocean.

Lua formed about 240 miles west-northwest of Port Hedland, Australia, attaining maximum winds of about 40mph. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) expect Lua to meander for a couple of days, strengthening significantly and then making landfall in the Pilbara region of Western Australia on about 16th March. System 96P is located about 170 nautical miles west of Darwin and 115 nautical miles northwest of Port Keats and is heading in a southerly direction. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the NASA satellite showed that deep convection – the rising air that forms the thunderstorm making up a tropical cyclone – is growing in size around the system’s circulation centre. According to the JTWC, the system is becoming more organised and it is anticipated that it will become a tropical depression before curving towards the southeast and making landfall. Local residents have been advised to monitor the progress of both storms as they have the potential to cause severe damage and disruption.

It is more bad news for a nation that is still dealing with the after-effects of several storm and flooding events which have hit the country in recent months.