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Huge Dust Storm Blows Off Coast of Australia to New Zealand

27.4S 153.0E

September 25th, 2009 Category: Dust Storms, Fires

Dust off Northern Coast of Australia - September 23rd, 2009

Dust off Northern Coast of Australia - September 23rd, 2009

Dust arching towards New Zealand - September 23rd, 2009

Dust arching towards New Zealand - September 23rd, 2009

A huge outback dust storm – 500 km (310 mi) wide by 1,000 km (620 mi) long – swept across eastern Australia and blanketed Sydney on Wednesday, September 23rd, disrupting flights and ground transportation and forcing people indoors for shelter from the hazardous air, gale-force winds, and in some places hailstorms.

The dust storm Wednesday had shrouded Sydney and surrounding areas for about eight hours, blotting out landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge and even reaching underground to coat subway stations.

The haze, churned by powerful winds that lifted thousands of tons of topsoil from the arid and drought-stricken inland, was visible from space, appearing as a huge brown smudge in satellite photographs of Australia.

As it cleared away from Sydney on Wednesday afternoon, the dust moved north along the heavily populated eastern coastal area clogging skies over the Queensland state capital of Brisbane.

The main image shows dust off the coast of Queensland, partially veiling the Great Barrier Reef offshore. Several wildfires can also be seen along the coastline towards the center left. The second image shows the dust arching eastward, over to New Zealand, which is hidden below the clouds on the right side of the image.

Hamish Downgraded to Category 2

March 11th, 2009 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) - March 10th, 2009 © JTWC

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) - March 10th, 2009

TC 18P - March 9th, 2009 © JTWC

TC 18P - March 9th, 2009

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) has weakened to a Category 2.

The Australia Weather Bureau announced that as of 10 A.M. local time it was located about 185 kilometers (115 miles) east-northeast of Sandy Cape and moving northwest. It is expected to turn to the northwest later today and to continue to weaken.

The bureau issued a severe weather warning for “strong to gale-force winds and large waves” along the southeast Queensland coast.

Tropical Cyclone 18p (Hamish), located approximately 230 nautical miles northeast of Brisbane, Australia, has tracked westward at 4 knots over the past 6 hours.

Animated multispectral satellite and recent microwave imagery show a fully exposed low level circulation center (LLCC) tracking westward (see close-up) away from the deep convection which is sheared to the East.

The current position and motion are based upon the animated imagery as well as a QSCAT image.

The current intensity is based on Dvorak estimates ranging from 35 to 55 knots and the previously mentioned QSCAT image.

After reversing direction near 10/12Z the system has tracked slowly westward over the past 12 hours, and is forecast to track increasingly northwestward under the steering influence of a low- to mid-level subtropical ridge which is building west and south of the system. This development is evident on the 10/12z 700 mb analysis.

TC18p will maintain slow forward track speed as it battles competing steering flow between the primary influence to the west and south and northwesterly flow originating from a weaker ridge building to the Northeast.

Hamish will weaken steadily over the forecast period and ultimately dissipate as a significant tropical cyclone near TAU 48 while moving northwestward along the Australian coast. This forecast is based upon the majority of dynamic aids (with the exception of NGPS and WBAR) which depict the northwesterly motion and continued weakening trend.

Maximum significant wave height at 110000z is 20 feet.

Hamish Downgraded but Still Causing Severe Weather along Queensland Coast

March 10th, 2009 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) - March 10th, 2009 © CIMSS-Univ. of Wisconsin

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) - March 10th, 2009

TC 18P - March 9th, 2009 © JTWC

TC 18P - March 9th, 2009

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) has been downgraded to category three, however a severe weather warning has been issued along the central and southeast coast of Queensland, the Australian Associated Press reported. Cyclone Hamish was about 160km east-northeast of Sandy Cape at 10am (AEST) todayand was moving at 10km/h slightly away from the coastline.

The Bureau of Meteorology announced that the weather alert for areas between Yeppoon and Tewantin had been cancelled, as the cyclone is expected to hover offshore for the next few days. However, a severe weather warning has been issued from Sandy Cape to Coolangatta, where gale force winds, rough seas and abnormally high tides are expected.

At the time of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s last report, issued at 0300Z, Hamish was located approximately 210 nautical miles north-northeast of Brisbane, Australia, and had tracked southeastward at 7 knots over the past 6 hours.

Recent animated METSAT imagery depicts a very intense system with deep convection primarily located on the south and eastern periphery of the storm.

The cyclone remains very intense as confirmed by Dvorak satellite intensity estimates from PGTW and ABRF, and although intensity is beginning to wane as vertical wind shear (VWS) adversely affects the system, the storm will maintain strength as a significant tropical cyclone throughout the forecast period.

Forecast track © Univ. of Wisconsin

Forecast track

Over the next 24 hours, the system will track generally eastward, while steadily weakening under increasing vertical wind shear associated with an approaching mid-level trough to the west.

As this weakening occurs, the storm will slow as the primary steering influence transfers from the deep layer ridging to the East, to the low to mid-level subtropical ridge to the South causing the storm to enter into a slow loop between TAU 24 and 36.

Maximum significant wave height is 24 feet.

Please click here for all articles on Tropical Cyclone Hamish.

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) Batters Queensland Coast but Not Expected to Make Landfall

March 9th, 2009 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) - March 9th, 2009 © CIMSS-Univ. of Wisconsin

Tropical Cyclone 18P (Hamish) - March 9th, 2009

TC 18P - March 8th, 2009 © JWTC

TC 18P - March 8th, 2009

Tropical Cyclone Hamish battered the coast of Australia’s northern state of Queensland, disrupting coal exports and prompting authorities to evacuate islands popular with tourists, Bloomberg reports.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning for the state’s central coast today, saying strong winds are creating dangerous surf and “abnormally high tides.”

At 4:46 p.m. local time, the cyclone was 245 kilometers (152 miles) northeast of Bundaberg, moving southeast parallel to the coast at 17 kilometers an hour, the weather bureau said.

The Department of Emergency Services informed that several islands, including Fraser, Lady Elliot and Heron Islands, were evacuated yesterday as a precaution.

The state government put emergency personnel, including search and rescue teams, on standby and sent 6,000 sandbags, flood barrier equipment and tarpaulins to towns along the central coast, Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said in a statement yesterday.

Forecast track - March 9th, 2009 ©  CIMSS-Univ. of Wisconsin

Forecast track - March 9th, 2009

Over the past 6 hours, Hamish has tracked southeastward at 8 knots. At the time of the latest JTWC update, it was located approximately 320 nautical miles north of Brisbane, Australia.

The track is forecast to turn eastward as Hamish moves around the mid-level subtropical ridge east of the cyclone.

TC 18P has begun to show signs of weakening over the past 12 hours. The Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour, is forecast to continue weakening and is not expected to make landfall.

Increased interaction with the mid-latitude flow will begin to weaken the system throughout the forecast period, but TC 18P will remain fairly intense through TAU 48.

Sea surface temperatures will decrease through the forecast, adversely affecting the low-level circulation center. Dvorak satellite estimates from PGTW and ABRF agree with a 102 knot system. Animated satellite imagery shows an enlarging eye with expanding upper level cloud cover. Maximum significant wave height at 21 feet.

Australian Islands Evacuated as Cyclone Hamish Lashes Coast

March 8th, 2009 Category: Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclone Hamish 18P, Infrared and Water Vapour composite - March 8th 2009, 12:00 UTC

Tropical Cyclone Hamish 18P, Infrared and Water Vapour composite - March 8th 2009, 12:00 UTC

Australian authorities evacuated resort islands in Queensland state and put emergency services on alert as Tropical Cyclone Hamish lashed the northern coast with strong winds.

About 3,000 people, including hotel guests, residents and campers are being evacuated from Fraser Island, a World Heritage, listed site about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the state capital, Brisbane, the Department of Emergency Services said. Only essential workers have been allowed to stay at Lady Elliot and Heron resort islands.

Troops can be “deployed at short notice if required not only in the event of a major disaster but to assist with evacuations,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said at a televised news conference today.

The cyclone, with winds as high as 260 kilometers (162 miles) an hour, was heading south-southeast parallel to Queensland’s coast, threatening islands along the Great Barrier Reef, the Bureau of Meteorology said today. The state government warned people to be prepared to flee their homes at short notice.

Hamish was downgraded by the bureau to a Category 4 storm from Category 5 at 1 p.m. local time. Forecasters said the storm had earlier been as powerful as Cyclone Larry, which caused widespread destruction when it made landfall in Queensland in 2006, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

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