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Hurricane Season 2006: Monica (Australia)
Strongest Australian Cyclone Monica Spares Darwin

TRMM image of Tropical Cyclone Monica from April 26, 2006.

Tropical Cyclone Monica became the strongest storm of the 2006 Australian cyclone season with wind gusts reaching 350 kilometers per hour (215 miles per hour) as reported by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Cyclone Warning Centre. The Category 5 cyclone hit along the sparsely populated coastline of the Northern Territory, sparing the city of Darwin. At the time of this Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite image, Monica’s sustained winds were estimated to be 230 kilometers/hour (144 mph) or equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

TRMM showed a pattern of very heavy rain (red) forming an intense symmetric eyewall around a small, complete eye with tightly curved rainbands spiraling into the center -­ the signature of a mature, intense tropical cyclone. Soon after these images were taken, Monica reached Category 5 status with sustained winds estimated at 285 km/hr (178 mph). The cyclone tracked westward, skirting the northern coastline of Australia before coming ashore west of Maningrida in the Northern Territory just after 8 p.m. local time. The storm quickly lost strength as it moved inland and passed by the main population center of Darwin. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA. Credit: NASA GSFC/SSAI Hal Pierce /Steve Lang

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Darwin: Target of Severe Tropical Cyclone Monica

Tropical Cyclone Monica is headed for the northern Australian city of Darwin. Cyclone Monica, a slow

On Monday, April 24, Tropical Cyclone Monica is headed for the northern Australian city of Darwin. Cyclone Monica, a slow-moving, intense, maximum category-five tropical cyclone. Monica's winds were gusting at 220 mph (350 kilometers per hour), as she was located about 320 miles (520 kilometers) northeast of the tropical city of Darwin on Monday morning. Monica is expected to reach the Darwin area by Tuesday afternoon. Forecasters believe it will weaken as it crosses land on Tuesday. Darwin has a population of about 110,000 people. According to news reports on the morning of April 24, the Darwin airport is closed to most flights, supermarkets are cleaned out of supplies, and residents are ready to go to shelters.

This photo-like image of Monica over northern Australia was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on April 24, 2006, at 12:30 a.m. ET (4:30 Universal Time). Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA/GSFC/MODIS Rapid Response Team