This new map drawn 26/3/99 shows the complete paths of the two cyclones.
(The full size of the image is WIDTH="1918" HEIGHT="1561", so if your browser does not support image rescaling, you may need to download it and print it.)
Report as sent by Carl Smith 22/3/99 :
Well, 'cyclone alley' certainly lived up to it's name this time! Onslow has long been considered a 'cyclone magnet', being the most cyclone prone place in the world, at the SW end of 'cyclone alley' that runs from the Gulf of Carpentaria down to NW Cape.
TC Vance has been one of the biggest and most intense cyclones to ever hit the Australian mainland.
The tourist/US naval base town of Exmouth, population around 2500, is apparently severely devastated, with locals in the rather sketchy news reports likening it to the appearance of Darwin after TC Tracy at Christmas 1974, although at the time (ABC radio news, 8pm EST, 22/3/1999) the winds had not abated sufficiently for them to go out and have a good look, and the task of properly assessing the damage may have to wait until tomorrow.
It is clear from telephone reports on ABC radio by locals looking out from within the relative safety of their homes that some buildings have been demolished, many have been severely damaged, and most have sustained significant damage. There are fishing boats in the main street, power poles twisted like spagetti, and debris is widespread throughout the town.
Of course, due to it's cyclone prone location, the houses and other buildings in Exmouth and other NW Oz coastal towns have been built with severe cyclones in mind, however, the severity of TC Vance, with sustained winds of 250 km/hr gusting to 290 km/hr blasting the town has certainly put their building standards to the test.
After passing about 30 km to the E of Exmouth at about 10:30 am WST, TC Vance crossed the coast at the S end of Exmouth Gulf around noon WST, at the same time as a high 7 metre king tide, with an 8 metre storm surge, and a 12 metre swell. We will have to wait until at least tomorrow to have any reports of the effects of this on the S and E Exmouth Gulf areas.
As TC Vance proceeds in a S to SSE direction overland, it is losing intensity, although a cyclone warning extends as far inland as Kalgoolie (30 deg 40 min S and 121 deg 22 min E), about 600 km E of the W coast, and some 1100 to 1200 km from where TC Vance crossed the coast.
Interuption for spectacular thunderstorm!
I had to close down and unplug everything as a very active thunderstorm approached, and spat a spectacular display of lightning, with many close hits, including 3 hits within 150 metres, one of which was so close that Sheila, who was sitting on the end of the bed, jumped about 8 feet, straight out the bedroom door! It was a simultaneous brilliant flash and crash. I was sitting on the floor by the lounge room door watching the near continuous display when the shock physically lifted me off the floor!
Anyway, it's 11.45 pm now.
In the 10pm EST ABC radio news, the wind in Exmouth had dropped below gale force in the late afternoon enabling the SES to do a quick assessment of the small town. 112 houses uninhabitable, another 112 severely damaged, 90% of houses suffered structural damage. They described the scene as reminding them of pictures of Darwin after TC Tracy.
The small fishing town Onslow is in a similar condition. There are no reported injuries or deaths in these cyclone aware communities, although 1 man is missing, an aquaculture farmer who refused to be evactuated from his Exmouth Gulf property. The damage is so severe that no one has been able to get to his property.
At last report, TC Vance is still Cat 3, packing windsgusting to 180 kph as it moves SSE overland, 10 hours after crossing the coast!
I have attached cyclone info, and an updated GIF of TC Vance's path.
Report as sent by Carl Smith 23/3/99:
Described as the most intense cyclone to ever hit mainland Australia, TC Vance continues SE overland as it weakens, wreaking havoc on outback communities that are normally beyond the reach of cyclones.
A cyclone warning is in current for the goldmining town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, and SE to Balladonia, on highway 1, about 60 to 70 kms inland from the Great Australian Bight and the Southern Ocean!
Reports from Exmouth in the light of a new day reveal that about 120 houses have been destroyed, about 300 more are severely damaged, and 90% of the town of about 780 houses sustained significant damage. Locals describe the town as looking like a rubbish tip, with vast amounts of debris strewn everywhere.
Onslow, although not quite as devastated as Exmouth, has high damage levels, with many houses destroyed, many more sustaining severe damage, and all houses sustaining some damage, with debris and water water lying around everywhere.
All roads in the area are impassable due to debris and severe wind and water damage, and the only way in or out of the communities around the Exmouth Gulf area, from NW Cape around to Onslow, is by helicopter. A helicopter has been dispatched to a southern Exmouth Gulf aquaculture property to try to find the owner, the only person in the area who refused to be evacuated prior to the full 290 km/hr fury of TC Vance, accompanied by a 8 metre storm surge and 12 metre seas on a 7 metre high king tide, crossing the coast in that area at noon WST yesterday.
I presume that if by some miracle he has survived, he will have an incredible story to tell!
It was just on the ABC radio news (4pm EST) that the highest ever wind speed recorded by an official BOM weather station on the Australian mainland was 267 km/hr at Learmonth, 35 km S of Exmouth on the W side of Exmouth Gulf, shortly before noon 22/3/1999. The previous highest was 246 km/hr at Onslow in 1975. The BOM estimates that the max. gusts of 280 to 290 km/hr were undoubtably experienced in some areas around the Exmouth Gulf, and in some places may have reached or exceeded 300 km/hr!
The Learmonth airport is now open, so some footage should emerge soon. I saw the Channel 10 News (5pm EST), no footage from Exmouth or Onslow yet, but apparently the missing aquaculture farmer has been found alive and well!
I just saw some very dramatic footage on the Channel 7 News (6pm EST) taken by NZ storm chaser/cameraman, Goeff Macklin, in Exmouth at the peak of TC Vance. At one point, he was outdoors, in amongst the debris, and tied to something by very heavy ropes, and was saying that the wind was blowing at 290 km/hr and gusting to 350 km/hr (somewhat exagerated) immediately before being blown off his feet. He must have a death wish! Other footage showed houses being blown apart, bits of trees and debris flying everywhere. Quite dramatic!
Footage shot today showed that Exmouth has been more or less flattened, some streets of houses completely demolished, with flattened and mangled house remains strewn everywhere. The houses built by the US Navy in the 1960's faired better than most.
On 'Today Tonight', Ch 7 6:30 pm EST, they showed more of Macklins amazing footage before crossing Live to Exmouth, where the TT presenter interviewed him. He monitors severe storms worldwide, and had flown in to Exmouth when he realised that a Cat 5 cyclone was likely to hit there. He said he has never been in a storm greater than Cat 3 before, and was quite excited about the quality of his footage. He described how, at the height of the storm, he was filming from a shop doorway in the main street, when the awning blew off and landed on him. His hard-hat saved his skull. He also told how, at one point, he was blown end over end for about 50 feet across a coutyard before coming to soft landing on a pile of tree debris. He had safety ropes on when filming, and was able to pull himself to safety.
I have included below a near complete history (I missed some advices due to a need to sleep) of Severe TC Vance, Cat 5, 915 hPa, max. wind gusts up to or exceeding 300 km/hr (160 knots), including a new record Australian mainland wind speed of 267 km/hr at Learmonth on the W side of Exmouth Gulf, 35 kn S of Exmouth, shortly before noon on the 22/3/1999.
I have included a map of TC Vance's path, right up to the point where it left the Australian mainland and entered the Great Australian Bight and the Southern Ocean.
This is the first time in recorded history that a tropical cyclone has tracked across the whole of mainland Australia from North to South as a cyclone.
I will put together a GIF animation of TC Vance, as I have all the 6 hourly IR satellite images stored on disk, and, if I have time, I may redo the path map to include all place names mentioned in the advices.
I have been writing this in snatches, and, as it is now 1 am on the 24/3/1999, and Ex-Tc Vance is now a very deep 985 hPa low pressure system in the Great Australian Bight, headed for mainland South Australia and Victoria.
Anyway, that's it for now.
Report as sent by Carl Smith 24/3/99:
I have attached the TC Vance animated GIF. It is quite large, at 2,378K of disk space, but this was unavoidable due to the size of TC Vance and the large distance and time span it covers. I would have liked to make the frames extend a little further W and S to show the full extent of TC Vances influence in the cloud patterns, but RAM space limitations made this impossible.
On the first frame, you can see the Tropical Depression at top RHS that is to become TC Vance, and another TD N of the NW WA coast that is to become TC Elaine.
During the course of the sequence, you can see TC Elaine quickly develop into a severe Cat 3 cyclone, and quickly weakening again to a TD before crossing the WA coast. You can see the slower developing but much larger and eventually far more intense TC Vance develop into a very destructive Cat 5 TC with winds gusting to 300 km/hr by the time it enters the Exmouth gulf between Exmouth, on the E side of the peninsula to the W of the Exmouth Gulf, and Onslow just to the NE of the mouth of the Exmouth Gulf, before slowly degenerating as it crosses the whole span of continental Australia, yet still a Cat 1 TC as moved into the Great Australian Bight.
During today, Vance has generated winds gusting to 120 km/hr in Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, whilst leaving a trail of destruction in coastal areas of South Australia, with severe dust storms gusting to 90 km/hr in Adelaide, reducing visibility to a few metres and creating traffic choas, as it proceeds SW towards NW Tasmania, where it is due in the morning.
Meanwhile, the authorities are trying to evacuate all non-essential persons from Exmouth and Onslow in order to clean up, as there is no power or water supplies. So widespread is the damage to infrustructure that water supplies are not expected to be restored for at least 2 weeks, and power supplies for at least 3 weeks. 17,000 litres of bottled water was flown into Learmonth airport 35 kms S of Exmouth on a Hercules today.
Incidently, the storm chaser referred to in the last Email, called Geoff Macklin on the 7 network, was called Geoff Mackley on the ABC radio today, so I don't know which is correct, anyway, he must have some good footage for the TV stations and documentry makers around the world, given the snippets purchased by the 7 network.
Apologies to him for the confusion, perhaps someone may know his actual name!
Thats it for now.
Report as sent by Carl Smith 25/3/99:
I prepared this animated GIF of the Australian BOM synoptic charts showing TC's Vance & Elaine. I did not check the time in all of them when downloading at regular 12 hr intervals, so some of them have odd times other than the regular 10am-10pm daily pairs.
Oh well, I was too busy with Vance to check properly, and the BOM was probably too busy to ensure that all charts were promptly posted.
They show Vance begining as a Low in the Gulf of Carpentaria on the morning of the 14th of March, and continue until Vance was a low in the Southern Ocean this morning, the 25th of March.
After blowing Adelaide and dumping a heap of dust yesterday, the remains of Vance hit Melbourne with Gales last night that resulted in damage to many trees and houses, and 50,000 people left without power.
Up North, several hercules loads of people were flown out of Exmouth, and the pollies [politicians] arrived.
That's it for now.
Note on TC VANCE history:
Due to the fact that some of the information was from Ocean Wind Warnings for Shipping, and the majority from Tropical Cyclone Warning Advices, all sourced from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website at http://www.bom.gov.au, the distances in the Ocean Wind Warnings for Shipping were given only in Nautical Miles (nm), the direction of movement and distances from named places in knots, and sustained wind speeds in knots. Those from the Tropical Cyclone Advices were given in kilometers (km), kilometers per hour (km/h), and maximum wind gusts in kilometers per hour.
Some of the information is composite from both sources. I apologise for for any errors that may have been made from updating when half asleep at strange times.
TC VANCE track history
15/3/1999 2100 CST 1001 hpa 12.0S 132.0E 70 nm ENE Darwin slow N
16/3/1999 0500 CST 1001 hpa 12.0S 132.0E 70 nm ENE Darwin slow N
16/3/1999 1700 CST 1000 hpa 11.9S 131.7E 60 nm ENE Darwin slow
16/3/1999 2300 CST 1000 hpa 12.5S 131.0E close Darwin slow then W-SW
17/3/1999 0500 CST 1002 hpa 12.5S 131.0E close Darwin slow then W-SW deepening
17/3/1990 1115 CST 1002 hPa 12.1S 130.2E 20 nm SSE Cape Fourcroy 40 nm WNW Darwin WSW 5 knots
17/3/1999 1700 CST 1001 hPa 12.2S 129.5E 40 nm SW Cape Fourcroy 75 nm W Darwin WSW 5 knots
17/3/1999 3.30pm WST (5pm CST) 1001 hPa 12.2S 129.5E 70km SW Cape Fourcroy 140 km W Darwin 380 km NE Kalumburu WSW 10 km/h Gusts to 80 km/h
17/3/1999 9:30pm WST (11pm CST) 1002 hPa 12.5S 129.3E 160 km W Darwin 350 km NE Kulumburu WSW 8 km/h Gusts to 90 km/h
18/3/1999 3:30am WST (5am CST) 1000 hPa 12.5S 128.0 E 300 km W Darwin 240 km NE Kulumburu W 15 km/h Gusts to 90 kmh
18/3/1999 9:30am WST (11am CST) 996 hPa 12.6 S 127.1 E 195 km NNE Kulumburu 425 km NE Kuri Bay WSW 18 km/h Gusts to 100 km/h intensifying
18/3/1999 3:30pm WST (5pm CST) TC Vance 990 hPa 12.6 S 125.4 E 230 km NW Kalumburu 330 NNE Kuri Bay W 25 km/h Gusts to 120 km/h intensifying
18/3/1999 9:30pm WST (11pm CST) TC Vance Cat 2 984 hPa 12.4 S 124.4 E 325 km NW Kalumburu 340 km N Kuri Bay W 25 km/h Gusts to 125 km/h intensifying
19/3/1999 Midnight WST (0130 CST) TC Vance Cat 2 980 hPa 12.5 S 123.5 E 215 nm NW Kulumburu W 12 knots intensifying
19/3/1999 0600 WST TC Vance Cat 2 975 hPa 13.2S 122.4E 530 km N Broome WSW 22km/h winds 30/45 knots w 90 nm increasing 45/55 knots 30 nm winds to 55/65 knots after Noon WST
19/3/1999 19am WST TC Vance Cat 2 975 hPa 13.5S 121.8E 500 km N Broome 830 km NNE Port Hedland WSW 22 km/h Gusts to 150 km/h
19/3/1999 1pm WST TC Vance Cat 2 975 hPa 13.6S 121.1E WSW 12 knots winds 30/45 knots w 90 nm increasing to 50/60 knots w 30 nm reaching 70 knots w 30 nm tonight
19/3/99 3pm WST TC Vance Cat 2 975 hPa 13.9S 120.6E 485 km NNE Broome 750km NNE Port Hedland WSW 22 km/hr Gusts to 150 kmh
19/3/99 6pm WST TC Vance 965 hPa 14.0S 120.0E WSW 12 knots 30/45 knots w 90 nm 50/60 knots w 40 nm 70 knots 15 nm
20/3/99 midnight WST STC Vance Cat 3 960 hPa 14.4S 119.0E 525 km NW Broome 660 km WSW Port Hedland WSW 22 km/hr Gusts to 190 km/h
20/3/99 1am WST STC Vance Cat 3 960 hPa 14.4S 119.0E WSW 12 knots 30/45 knots w 90 nm 50/65 knots w 40 nm 75 knots 15 nm
20/3/99 6am WST STC Vance 950 hPa 15.3S 118.2E WSW 12 knots winds 30/50 knots w 100 nm 50/70 knots w 45 nm 70/85 knots w 15 nm
20/3/99 9am WST STC Vance Cat 4 945 hPa 15.7S 117.8E 570 N Karratha 715 km NNW Onslow SW 20 km/hr Gusts to 240 kmh
20/3/99 noon WST STC Vance Cat 4 945 hPa 15.8S 117.3E 550 km N Karratha 690 km NNE Onslow SW 20 km/hr Gusts to 240 km/hr winds 30/50 knots w 120 nm 50/70 knots w 55 nm 80/90 knots w 15 nm
20/3/99 3pm WST STC Vance Cat 4 940 hPa 16.0S 117.1E 520 km N Karratha 660 km NNE Onslow SW 16 km/hr Gusts to 240 km/hr
20/3/99 6pm WST STC Vance Cat 4 940 hPa 16.3S 116.9E 490 km N Karratha 620 km NNE Onslow SW 16 km/hr Gusts to 240 km/hr winds 30/50 knots w 120 nm 50/70 knots w 55 nm 80/90 knots w 15 nm
20/3/99 9pm WST STC Vance Cat 4 930 hPa 16.6S 116.7E 460 km N Karratha 580 km NNE Onslow SW 15 km/hr Gusts to 260 km/hr
21/3/99 midnight WST STC Vance Cat 5 920 hPa 16.9S 116.5E 430 km N Karratha 545 km NNE Onslow SW 14 km/hr Gusts to 280 km/hr winds 30/50 knots w 120 nm 50/70 knots w 55 nm 80/105 knots w 15 nm
21/3/99 3am WST STC Vance Cat 5 920 hPa 17.4S 116.1E 380 km NNW Karratha 480 km NNE Onslow SW 17 km/hr Gusts to 280 km/hr
21/3/99 6am WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 17.7S 115.9E 350 km NNW Karratha 445 km NNE Onslow SW 15 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr winds 30/50 knots w 120 nm 50/70 knots w 55 nm 80/110 knots w 15 nm
21/3/99 9am WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 17.9S 115.7E 335 km NNW Karratha 420 km N Onslow SW 15 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr, 250 km/hr w 50 km, 120 km/hr w 120 km, 6m storm surge
21/3/99 noon WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 18.2S 115.3E 325 km NNW Karratha 380 km N Onslow 430 km NNE Exmouth SW 15 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr, 250 km/hr w 50 km, 150 km/hr w 120 km, 6 m storm surge.
21/3/99 3pm WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 18.4S 115.0E 320 km NNW Karratha 360 km N Onslow 400 km NNE Exmouth SW 15 km/hr Gusts to 240 km/hr nr centre, 250 km/hr w 50 km, 150 km w 120 km, 6 m storm surge
21/3/99 6pm WST STS Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 18.9S 114.9E 290 km NW Karratha 300 km N Onslow 350 km NNE Exmouth SSW 15 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre, 250 km/hr w 50 km, 150 km w 120 km, 6m storm surge, even higher surge possible in S Exmouth Gulf
21/3/99 9pm WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 19.3S 114.7E 275 km NW Karratha 260 km N Onslow 300 km NNE Exmouth SSW 15 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre, 250 km/hr w 50 km, 150 km w 120 km, 6m storm surge, even higher surge possible in S Exmouth Gulf
22/3/99 midnight WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 19.7S 114.7E 270 k NW Karratha 225 km NNW Onslow 250 km N Exmouth SSW 16 km/h Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre, 250 km/hr w 50 km, 150 km/hr w 120 km, 6m storm surge, even higher possible S of Exmouth Gulf
22/3/99 3am WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 20.2S 114.5E S 10 knots 22/3/99 6am WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 20.8S 114.5E 245km W Karratha 110 NW Onslow 130 km NNE Exmouth S 20 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre, 7m storm surge
22/3/99 7am WST STC Vance Cat 5 925 hPa 21.0S 114.5E S 245 W Karratha 95 km W Onslow 110 km NNE Exmouth 22 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre 7m storm surge
22/3/99 8am WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 21.3S 114.5E 75 km WNW Onslow 80 km ENE Exmouth S 30 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre 7 m storm surge
22/3/99 9am WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 21.6S 114.5E 65 km W Onslow 55 NE Exmouth 185 km NNE Coral Bay S 30 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre, 5 m storm surge Onslow 8 m storm surge base of Exmouth Gulf
22/3/99 10am WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 21.8S 114.4E 75 km WSW Onslow 30 km ENE Exmouth 160 km NNE Coral Bay S 30 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr nr centre, 250 km/hr Exmouth region, 5 m storm surge Onslow 8 m storm surge base of Exmouth Gulf
22/3/99 11am WST STS Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 22.2S 114.4E 40 km SE Exmouth 95 km SW Onslow 120 km NE Coral Bay 305 km N Carnarvon S 30 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr, 250 km/hr Exmouth Gulf area, 150 km/hr E to Mardie, 5 m storm surge Onslow, 8 m storm surge base of Exmouth Gulf
22/3/99 noon WST STC Vance Cat 5 915 hPa 22.5S 114.3E 65 km SSE Exmouth 85 km NE Coral Bay 130 km SW Onslow 270 km NNE Carnarvon S 30 km/hr Gusts to 290 km/hr, 250 km/hr Exmouth Gulf area, easing in Exmouth, 150 km/hr E to Mardie and Pannawonica, storm surge E and S Exmouth Gulf 8 m at base of gulf
22/3/99 1pm CST STC Vance Cat 4 930 hPa 22.7S 114.3 E 85 km SSE Exmouth 70 km NE Coral Bay 145 km SW Onslow 250 kn NNE Carnarvon crossing coast S Exmouth Gulf S 30 km/hr Gusts to 250 km/hr nr centre 240 km/hr S Exmouth Gulf easing in Exmouth 150 km/hr E to Mardie and Pannawonica storm surge E and S Exmouth Gulf 8 m base Exmouth Gulf
22/3/99 4pm WST STC Vance Cat 3 955 hPa 23.5S 114.4E 75 km ESE Coral Bay 170 km NNE Carnarvon 190 km NNW Gascoyne Junction S 30 km/hr Gusts to 200 km/hr w 50 km centre, 120 km/hr tommorrow as it moves rapidly SE across the N an E wheatbelt into the Goldfields.
22/3/99 6pm WST STC Vance Cat 3 955 hPa 24.0S 114.6E 135 km NE Carnarvon 130 km NNW Gascoyne Junction SSE 30 km/hr Gusts to 200 km/hr w 30 km centre next 6-9 hrs, 150 km/hr w 80 km centre into tomorrow, 120 km/hr w 150 km of a line from cyclone centre to Kalgoorlie
22/3/99 9pm WST STC Vance Cat 3 960 hPa 24.9S 115.0E 145 km E Carnarvon 20 km NW Gascoyne Junction SSE 35 km/hr Gusts to 180 km/hr w 30 km of centre for next 3-6 hrs, 150 km/hr w 80 km into tomorrow, 120 km/hr within a 150 km of a line from cyclone centre to Kalgoorlie
22/3/99 6am TC Vance Cat 2 970 hPa 27.0S 117.0E 150 km NW Mount Magnet 110 WNW Cue SE 35 km/hr Gusts to150 km/hr w 80 km centre this morning, 120 km/hr w 180 km of a line from cyclone centre to Kalgoorlie and on to Balladonia
23/3/99 9am TC Vance Cat 1985 hPa 28.2S 118.3E 50 km ESE Mount Magnet 415 km NW Kalgoorlie SE 40 km/hr Gusts to 120 km/hr within 80 km of centre today, 90 km/hr within 200 km of a line from Mount Magnet to Kalgoorlie to Balladonia, expected to be near Kalgoorlie at 9pm WST
23/3/99 noon WST TC Vance Cat 1 985 hPa 29.3S 119.6E 35 km S Cashmere downs 240 km NW Kalgoorlie SE 50 km/hr, Gusts to 120 km/hr within 80 km, 90 km/hr within 200 km, cyclone warning current within 200 km of a line from Cashmere Downs to Kalgoorlie to Balladonia, it's speed of movement has increased, and the centre is expected to be near Kalgoorlie/Boulder towards evening
23/3/99 3pm WST TC Vance Cat 1 985 hPa 30.3S 122.2E ESE 70 km/hr 80 km NE Kalgoorlie Gusts to 90 km/hr within 200 km of centre, a Category 1 cyclone warning is current within 200 km of a line from Kalgoorlie to Madura, expected to cross the coast into the Great australian Bight near Madura this evening. No more warnings will be given.
Maintained by Carl Smith.
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