But is there a sting in the tail?
I did say back in January that we were heading into cyclone season here in Australia. It was predicted then that we may have three or four serious tropical cyclones here in Queensland with a significant danger that one or more may cross over to the mainland, causing havoc.
All of Queensland’s tropical cyclones have hit during the months of January to March, with the exception of one, (Althea, 24 December 1971) so we are almost in the clear. But not quite.
As I speak, a rather large tropical cyclone by the name of Ului (pronounced yule-a-wee) has formed about 1500 kilometres north-east of Mackay and is slowly heading our way.
Apparently this cyclone is much bigger than your usual cyclone and it is therefore more difficult to predict its path. So nobody knows for sure where it will end up. But we do know that over the last 72 hours it has gone from a category three tropical cyclone, up to a category five and then back down to a category four.
The best guess from the Bureau of Meteorology is that this thing will continue to head west with, probably, a more southerly direction. That suggests it could be heading for Brisbane.
The news item, which you can read in full over at the Courier Mail, has attracted quite a few comments. You can also see a proper map charting Tropical Cyclone Ului’s actual path to date and its projected path over the next three days by visiting the Naval Oceanography Portal, which is a website intended for use by US government agencies.
Even if you don’t work for the US government, I’m sure it’s okay to take a peek at their map of Ului, (Update: Map now gone!) but to save you the time (and also because their map will probably change) you can check out my high quality (yes, I did it) reproduction below…..
The blue arrows represent the path already taken over the last three days and the red arrows are a prediction of where the cyclone may go during the next three days.
Let’s all hope they’ve got it wrong.
Back to those many comments and as usual opinion is divided. But most people seem to be quite concerned and many have drawn parallels with Tropical Cyclone Wanda, which, in 1974, was responsible for severe flooding around Brisbane to over 6,000 houses, of which 56 were destroyed. It caused around $200 million worth of damage which was an awful lot of money back in those days.
Yet when Wanda crossed the coastline near Maryborough, around 150 km north of Brisbane, it was actually a weak cyclone, all the damage was done by the rainfall. Right now, the last thing we need around here is more rain. All the dams are full.
Actually, that’s probably not the last thing we need. The last thing we need is a category four or five tropical cyclone crossing the coastline of south-east Queensland. That would be a disaster.
Other comments refer to past cyclone weather cycles suggesting we are due another biggie. I don’t know about that but I do know that 14 tropical cyclones have crossed over to the Queensland mainland in the last 150 years. You can read all about them here….The history of Queensland cyclones.
So the next few days are going to be quite crucial. I may take to watching The Weather Channel for a change. Or I may just wait for Brisbane City Council to send me their early warning alert text.
But I’ll leave the last word with Nick T of Brisbane, who added his comment to the Courier Mail’s article explaining that he always checked the progress of tropical cyclones when he lived in the Philippines, at the very same website whose map I have reproduced above. And he says their predictions are VERY good and ends his comment with….
“Be afraid – Be very afraid.”
Of course, if Tropical Cyclone Ului does hit these parts, I promise I will capture live video footage of the event, as it happens! Erm, from the deepest, safest and strongest bunker I can find.
Please note: this article was written at 1 PM AEST 15 March 2010 and reflects the situation at that time. Please be aware though, that the newspaper article and the prediction map that I linked to will undoubtedly change as the story develops.