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Hurricane Season 2007: George (Western Pacific)
Storm Summary: Cyclone George Intensifies Before Striking Western Australia

Tropical cyclone George intensified into a powerful Category 4 storm with wind gusts up to 149 knots (171 mph) according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology Tropical Cyclone Warning Center just as it was approaching the coastline of Western Australia. The storm made landfall east of Port Hedland late Thurs., Mar. 8.

George is blamed for at least two deaths and numerous injuries, primarily in Western Australia's Pilbara region, and was causing widespread flooding late on Fri., Mar. 9, as it neared the town of Newman. The cyclone was still a category three storm despite traveling over land for about 12 hours.

A rescue and clean-up operation was underway after the storm wreaked havoc on more than 1000 people in three mining camps, who were cut-off from rescuers by the cyclone's strong winds. Officials in Port Hedland said power and water services were still unavailable early Sat., Mar. 10, and damage to power lines, roofs and trees was reported as extensive.

George formed into a tropical storm on the evening of Sat., Mar. 3, from an area of low pressure that moved off the coast of northern Australia and into the Timor Sea. As the storm headed due west, the center briefly crossed the Australian coastline on Sun., Mar. 4, before re-emerging over open water into the eastern Indian Ocean.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA, and its primary objective is to measure rainfall from space. TRMM is also valuable for monitoring tropical cyclones over the global tropics, especially remote parts of the open ocean.

The first image from TRMM shows George just as the storm was re-emerging off the coast and into the Indian Ocean, taken at 8:03 p.m. EST on Sun., Mar. 4 (0103 UTC on Mon., Mar. 5). It shows the horizontal distribution of rain intensity within the system. TRMM reveals a system that is still in the early stages of its development. Because the center had been over land, the system has not been able to develop. There is no eye and banding features (curvature) are weak as the circulation has not yet matured. However, significant areas of intense rain (dark red areas) are evident near the center and show where heat is being released into the storm, providing fuel for the circulation.

TRMM image of Tropical Cyclone George on March 5, 2007.

George continued to move due west on the Tues., Mar. 6, taking it farther away from land. The system maintained tropical storm intensity. On Wed., Mar 7, George strengthened into a Category 2 cyclone before being drawn southward by a broad area of low pressure. The next image was taken at 4:03 a.m. EST (0903 UTC) on Wed., Mar. 7, just as George was strengthening and beginning to turn north. Although the center of the storm does not fall within the precipitation radar instrument's swath in this image, it is clear from the closed eye (green and blue ring with the open center) and the improved banding in the outer rain bands (dark red and bright green arcs denoting heavy to moderate rain intensities respectively) that George's circulation is now much better developed.

TRMM image of Tropical Cyclone George on March 7, 2007.

George continued to track due south towards the northern coastline of Western Australia on Thurs., Mar. 8, and began to intensify as well. The final image from TRMM was taken at 3:07 a.m. EST (0807 UTC) on Thurs., Mar. 8, as George was nearing the coast. Again, despite the center not being in the center of the radar's swath, it is apparent that George is a strong storm, with a well-defined eye surrounded by a symmetric eyewall of moderate intensity rain (green ring). At the time of this image, George was rated as a Category 3 Cyclone and would reach Category 4 soon, just before making landfall.

TRMM image of Tropical Cyclone George on March 8, 2007.

Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption credit: Steve Lang, SSAI/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; and Mike Bettwy, RSIS/Goddard Space Flight Center

Tropical Cyclone George Looms Off the Australian Coast

Tracking chart for Tropical Cyclone George

Forecasters anticipate tropical cyclone George to gain strength but remain safely offshore Australia's northern coastline for at least the next few days.

At 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 UTC) on Tues., Mar. 6, tropical cyclone George was located near 14.8 degrees south latitude and 120.3 degrees east longitude, or about 355 miles north-northeast of Port Hedland, Australia, and was moving toward the west at 9 knots (10 mph). Maximum sustained winds were near 45 knots (52 mph), with gusts to 55 knots (63 mph). Wave heights near the storm center were about 20 feet.

George is tracking westward along the northern fringes of a high pressure system over the west coast of Australia and this movement will continue through Thurs., Mar. 8. An area of low pressure approaching the cyclone from the southwest should then steer the storm more toward the south. As wind shear (changing wind speed and direction with height) decreases and environmental conditions become more favorable aloft, forecasters expect George to slowly intensify through Fri., Mar. 9.

This image shows the anticipated path and strength of tropical cyclone George over the next 48 hours. It indicates that George should gradually gain intensity and reach typhoon strength by Wed., Mar. 7. Previous cyclone positions are in black; forecast positions are in pink. Dashed lines outline the region ships are urged to avoid. Image credit: JTWC. Caption credit: Mike Bettwy, RSIS/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Mike Bettwy
Goddard Space Flight Center