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Hurricane Season 2009: Cylcone Laurence (Southern Indian Ocean)
12.31.09
 
December 31, 2009

NASA's TRMM Satellite Measures Cyclone Laurence's Heavy Rainfall

TRMM rainfall analysis of Laurence from Dec. 13-23, 2009 revealed that the heaviest rainfall totals of over 17.72 inches occurred in the Timor Sea near Cape Bougainville. Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce > View larger image
TRMM rainfall analysis of Laurence from Dec. 13-23, 2009 revealed that the heaviest rainfall totals of over 17.72 inches occurred in the Timor Sea near Cape Bougainville.
Credit: SSAI/NASA, Hal Pierce
Tropical Cyclone Laurence dropped heavy rainfall over Northwest Australia last week, and NASA and the Japanese Space Agency’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, or TRMM satellite measured that rainfall from its orbit in space.

The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. monitors rainfall over the global Tropics. A TMPA analysis of rainfall was made during the period from December 13-23, 2009 when tropical cyclone Laurence was affecting northwest Australia.

The TMPA analysis revealed that the heaviest rainfall totals of over 450 mm (~17.72 inches) occurred in the Timor Sea near Cape Bougainville and in an area well off the coast west of Roebuck Bay in the Indian Ocean. The analysis indicates that the Australian coast had many areas along the coast where Laurence caused rainfall totals to exceed 150 mm (~5.9 inches). Laurence was briefly classified as a category 5 tropical cyclone but few people were nearby at that time.

Laurence had weakened to a category 1 tropical cyclone before making its final landfall early on December 22, 2009 (local time).

Text credit: Hal Pierce, SSAI/Goddard Space Flight Center



December 22, 2009

Storm Laurence Makes Final Landfall as a Destructive Cyclone

satellite image of Laurence > View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of powerful Cyclone Laurence making landfall on December 21 at 05:59 UTC (1:59 p.m. local Australia Time). Laurence was a Category 3 storm, and this image clearly shows an eye. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
Tropical cyclone Laurence made landfall early on December 21, and residents along the northern coast of Western Australia are experiencing strong gusty winds, flooding, and very heavy rainfall. Laurence made landfall near Wallal as a Category Three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, with winds of 126 mph/ 203.7 kph/110 knots, gusting to 178 mph/287 kph/155 knots.

NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of powerful Cyclone Laurence making landfall on December 21 at 05:59 UTC (1:59 p.m. local Australia Time). Laurence was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall and the image clearly showed an eye. It will continue moving inland and weaken over the next several days.

Various alerts have been posted for residents during December 21-22. A Red Alert was in effect for people in or near communities from Sandfire to Pardoo and inland to Yarrie and Marble Bar. A Yellow Alert was posted for residents in or near Nullagine and Telfer, while a Blue Alert was issued for people in or near Cotton Creek. The people in the blue alert area need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organize an emergency kit including first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.

During the final warning from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center on December 21 at 10 a.m. ET (11 p.m. local Australia time) Laurence was still packing maximum sustained winds near 80 mph/129 kph/70 knots. It was located about 20 miles south of Mandora, Australia, near 20.0 South and 120.8 East. It was moving south near 6 mph (5 knots).

At 5:45 a.m. December 22, local Australia time (4:45 p.m. ET Dec. 21), A Cyclone warning is current for the Pilbara east of Marble Bar, adjacent Kimberley and northwest Interior including Telfer, Cotton Creek and Nullagine. A Cyclone watch is current for central parts of the Interior including Warburton and Giles.

At that time its center was located near 20.8 degrees South and 121.1 degrees East, and still moving south-southeast. It still had wind gusts near 121 mph/195 kph near the center.

Destructive winds with gusts to 177 mph (Category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) 285 kilometers per hour have been reported near the cyclone's center, and will extend inland tonight. Meanwhile reports of heavy rainfall between De Grey and Sandfire and farther inland have estimated totals greater than 300 mm (almost a foot of rain) likely near the track including the far eastern parts of the De Grey river. Heavy rainfall is forecast to reach far inland to eastern Pilbara and farther south on December 22 and 23.

Laurence 's center is forecast to move west of Tefler, and Cotton Creek, then turn southeastward and pass between Warburton and Giles on December 23. Heavy rainfall can be expected along Laurence's path over the next several days.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center



December 17, 2009

Cyclone Laurence over Northern West Australia on Dec. 17 as it continued to hug the coast and track west. > View larger image
NASA's Terra satellite captured an image of Cyclone Laurence over Northern West Australia on Dec. 17 at 02:00 UTC (9 p.m. ET Dec. 16) as it continued to hug the coast and track west.
Credit: NASA MODIS Rapid Response Team
Laurence Still Causing Warnings and Watches in Northern West Australia

Although the center of Tropical Cyclone Laurence has been over land for two days, it's still holding together and bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the northern coastal areas of West Australia and will do so into the weekend. Warnings and watches are still in effect in some areas as Laurence will continue moving west before re-entering the Southern Indian Ocean.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured an image of Cyclone Laurence over Northern West Australia on Dec. 17 at 02:00 UTC (9 p.m. ET Dec. 16) as it continued to hug the coast and track west. The MODIS image did not reveal an eye, indicating that the storm has downgraded to a tropical storm.

On December 17 at 8 p.m. local time (Perth/Australia) or 7 a.m. ET, a Cyclone Warning was in effect for areas in the Derby region of the west Kimberley. A Cyclone Watch was in effect for coastal areas from Cape Leveque to Wallal, including Broome as the storm continues to move in that direction. The area where Laurence is tracking is sparsely populated. The main industries there are energy-related and mining.

Laurence's maximum sustained winds were down to 40 mph (35 knots) making Laurence a tropical storm. Tropical Cyclone Laurence has continued to weaken as it moves slowly over land east of Derby. Wind gusts up to 59 mph (95 kilometers per hour) are possible close to the cyclone center.

Even though Laurence has weakened, he's still dumping heavy amounts of rainfall. Twenty-four hour rain totals are estimated to be as much as 11.8 inches (300 millimeters) along Laurence's track. Heavy rain is expected to continue over northwest Kimberley. Rainfall totals in excess of 4 inches (100mm) each day are expected with isolated amounts as high as 11.8 inches (300mm) possible near the path of the cyclone. Flooding is a large threat, especially for areas near the center of the storm.

At 8:00 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) December 17, the center of Tropical Cyclone Laurence was about 59 miles (95 kilometers) east of Derby, near 17.4 degrees South and 124.5 degrees East, and moving south at 7 mph (6 kilometers per hour). Estimated minimum central pressure is 993 millibars.

Over the next several days, Laurence will pass northeast of Fitzroy Crossing on its inland course. Then it will swing west, passing south of Derby and Beagle Bay before exiting near Broome and re-emerging over open ocean on December 19.

Laurence may re-develop into a tropical cyclone over warm ocean waters of the Southern Indian Ocean this weekend. There is low wind shear in that area, and that also enhances the chances of re-formation at sea.

Text credit: Hal Pierce, NASA/SSAI and Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



December 16, 2009

TRMM revealed a well defined center of circulation in Laurence with areas of heavy rain (red). > View larger image
TRMM captured this image of Laurence's rainfall on Dec. 14 at 5:29 p.m. ET (2329 UTC). TRMM revealed a well defined center of circulation in Laurence with areas of heavy rain (red) up to 2 inches per hour.
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
This TRMM 3-D image shows thunderstorm tops reaching about 9.3 miles high in various sides of the storm (red). > View larger image This TRMM 3-D image shows thunderstorm tops reaching about 9.3 miles high in various sides of the storm (red).
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
Tropical Cyclone Laurence Menaces Northern Australia

Laurence is still a tropical cyclone even though the storm has made landfall in northern West Australia and is moving over land. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite noticed some powerful and high thunderstorms in Laurence before he made landfall, and the storm is still maintaining intensity for now, but that will wane as the storm continues to interact with the friction caused by traveling over land.

The TRMM satellite is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to monitor and study tropical rainfall. When the TRMM satellite passed overhead on 14 December 2009 at 2329 UTC getting rainfall data Tropical Cyclone Laurence was close to hurricane strength. The rotating rain bands around Laurence's center of circulation off the coast of northern Australia were clearly revealed by TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) instrument as it peered through obscuring thunderstorm clouds.

Data from TRMM's Precipitation Radar (PR) instrument were used to create a dramatic 3-D view of the storm that showed towering thunderstorms up to 9 miles high around Laurence's developing eye wall.

At 0600 UTC, or 1 a.m. ET today, December 16, Cyclone Laurence was still a powerful cyclone with maximum sustained winds near 103 mph (90 knots) making it a Landfalling Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Laurence's center was near 16.3 South latitude and 124.2 East longitude about 440 nautical miles from Port Hedland, Australia. Closer to the Laurence's center, and feeling his full hurricane-force wrath today are Koolan Island, Cockatoo Island. Molema Island, Kingfisher Island and the towns of Kimbolton, Derby, Meda on the mainland.

By 1:46 p.m. ET, The Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology reported that Laurence's winds had already started waning and were near 75 knots (86 mph). That means that in 12 hours, Laurence weakened from a Category 2 hurricane to a Category 1 hurricane.

The bulletin on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website said "Severe Tropical Cyclone Laurence has crossed the Kimberley coast north northeast of Derby as a small but intense system." Laurence had a minimum central pressure of 1003 millibars and was near 16.6 South and 124.1 East, northeast of Kimbolton, and moving slowly southward at 4 mph. For updates on the Australian Government Web Site visit: http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/cyclone/.

Laurence is also proceeding into the mainland on a track southward. Its moving south near 10 mph. It is then expected to shift and move southwestward.

Text credit: Hal Pierce, NASA/SSAI and Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



December 15, 2009

NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Cyclone Laurence on Dec. 15 at 12:03 a.m. ET > View larger image
NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Cyclone Laurence on Dec. 15 at 12:03 a.m. ET as its eye was about to make landfall.
Credit: NASA/JTWC
Laurence Made Landfall in Western Australia

Tropical Cyclone Laurence made landfall in Northwestern Australia this morning (Eastern Time) December 15, 2009. NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of Laurence just before the center of the storm made landfall at 0503 UTC (12:03 a.m. ET). The Moderate Resolution Image Spectroradiometer instrument on Aqua captured the image.

At 06:00 UTC (1 a.m. ET) Laurence's center was located near 14.6 South and 125.4 East. Its center was just northeast of Derby, which is located on the coast in the Western Australia territory. Despite it's proximity to the coast, Laurence's winds were near 86 mph, making it a Category One Cyclone. It was moving to the southwest near 7 mph.

Observations from Troughton Island indicated sustained winds as high as 85 mph (74 knots) as Laurence passed 12 hours before.

Laurence is now expected to track deeper into interior Australia and dissipate in the next two days.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center



December 14, 2009

NASA's Terra satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Laurence on Dec. 14 at 1343 UTC. > View larger image
NASA's Terra satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Laurence on Dec. 14 at 1343 UTC (8:43 a.m. ET), when it was west-northwest of Darwin, Australia. Satellite imagery showed a disorganized storm.
Credit: NASA/JTWC
Tropical Storm Laurence Set for 2nd Australian Landfall

Tropical Storm Laurence tracked through Darwin Australia this weekend before sliding back into the Timor Sea and now Laurence is forecast to make a second landfall in Australia. Laurence is forecast to make landfall north of Wyndham then parallel the coastline while moving over land for the next couple of days.

Laurence is forecast to make landfall in the Kimberley region, move southwest through the northern area of the Great Sandy Desert and into the Pilbara region.

At 0900 UTC (4 a.m. ET) on December 14, Tropical Storm Laurence had maximum sustained winds near 52 mph and was located 185 miles west-southwest of Darwin, Australia. That's near 13.5 South and 127.8 East. It was moving west-southwest near 6 mph, in the direction of its second landfall. It was generating waves near 12 feet, so beach erosion along the northern coasts of Western Australia can be expected near where Laurence makes landfall in the next day.

Meanwhile watches and warnings are up. A tropical cyclone warning is in force from Kuri Bay to Wyndham. A tropical cyclone watch is in force from Kuri Bay to Beagle Bay. Gale force winds with gusts up to 62 mph (100 kilometers per hour) are forecast for the northern Kimberley coast tonight. Forecasters expect heavy rainfall in that area tonight and Tuesday as Laurence moves closer to the coast.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Storm Laurence on Dec. 14 at 8:43 a.m. ET when it was west-northwest of Darwin, Australia. Satellite imagery showed a disorganized storm.

Hurricane-force wind gusts up to 80 mph (130 kilometers per hour) may develop between Kalumburu and Kuri Bay on December 15. Residents near the communities of Kalumburu, Mitchell Plateau and Faraway Bay should be taking action in preparation for the cyclone's arrival. They are currently under a yellow alert. There is a blue alert in effect for the residents near the communities of Oombulgurri and Kuri Bay.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center