GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — While the United States still has some time before hurricane season begins, a powerful cyclone just pushed across the South Indian Ocean. It pummeled Indonesia before pushing south towards Western Australia.
Australia’s cyclone season runs from November through April, meaning a cyclone hitting this time of year is not out of the ordinary. But, the location and intensity of Cyclone Seroja created catastrophic damage. Another tropical storm interacted with Seroja and propelled it south and west, known as the Fujiwara effect.
Scientists estimate that cyclones of this intensity have only traveled this far south 26 times in the past 5,000 years.
Cyclone Seroja made landfall along the Western Australia coast on April 11. It was able to intensify more than expected due to warmer-than-average sea temperatures. This Category 3 storm caused significant destruction to the vulnerable towns along the coast that are mostly ill-equipped for strong cyclones.
The town of Kalbarri, just south of where the storm made landfall, recorded 6.6 inches of rain overnight, with 70% of structures damaged. Wind gusts clocked in at 100 mph, most likely the strongest winds in that area in more than 50 years.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja tore through 600 miles of land, knocking down trees and power lines. At least 15,000 homes lost power and one person lost their life. The storm weakened as it pushed southeast over land before dissipating south of the continent.
With America’s hurricane season starting soon, that large area of low pressure will be a lot more common in the Atlantic in the coming months. And, with warmer-than-average sea temperatures, we must remain extra weather aware heading into this summer season.