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15 04, 2017

Queensland Easter Long Weekend Forecast

There is an old saying that Queensland seems to get rain around Easter time, and historically thats been fairly true, however this year looks to be different with near perfect conditions State wide across the Easter long weekend.

On Saturday… South-East winds are forecast to stream along the entire Queensland Coast and feeding into the Monsoon Trough North of QLD. This should produce some weak instability across Cape York Peninsula which may lead to some very isolated thunderstorms during the evening and night. These onshore South-East winds should keep temperatures balmy along the Coast with just the odd shower (producing less than a few mm) here and there and all other regions seeing fine conditions. Remaining warm inland.

 

OCF Forecast Rainfall for Saturday via BSCH

OCF Forecast Rainfall for Saturday via BSCH

 

On Sunday, its almost an identical weather pattern to Saturday with instability weakening slightly across the Peninsula leading to a slightly lower chance of thunderstorms and more likely just your odd shower. South-East winds are expected to continue along the Coastline with the majority of shower activity confined to the Cairns to Townsville area, most falls remaining light. The odd shower is possible elsewhere along the Coast but it should hinder Easter Sunday plans. Temperatures again remaining balmy along the Coast and warm inland.

 

OCF Forecast Rainfall for Sunday via BSCH

OCF Forecast Rainfall for Sunday via BSCH

 

Easter Monday may see some very isolated thunderstorms again across the Peninsula, with South-East winds again dominating the scene. Again… shower activity is forecast to be confined to the Cairns to Townsville region with light falls and there is a very very very (note the multiple very’s for emphasis) slight chance of an evening storm over the Gold Coast or Scenic Rim with some weak instability potentially triggering activity in NENSW and pushing it North-East (I wouldn’t hold my breath though). Remaining fine elsewhere and warm again.

 

OCF Forecast Rainfall for Monday via BSCH

OCF Forecast Rainfall for Monday via BSCH


From the team at Higgins Storm Chasing, we hope everyone enjoys the weather across the Easter long weekend and spends it how they like. We wish everyone a Happy Easter and a fun last weekend of school holidays!

 

 

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11 04, 2017

New Zealand braces for Cook – 2nd system in a week!

After being severely impacted by Ex-TC Debbie, New Zealanders and once again those on the North Island are being urged to prepare again as Cook or the remnants of Cook look set to directly impact New Zealand over the next several days. Above image via WindyTV (Euro Model wind gusts for 6pm Thursday – aqua blue >100km/h)

Tropical Cyclone Cook developed over the Vanuatu Islands during Sunday, before heading straight for New Caledonia where the system was upgraded to a Severe Tropical Cyclone prior to landfall. Now the system has continued on its Southerly track and according to global models, its likely to make a direct impact or “landfall” over the North Island as either a Sub-Tropical Cyclone (cyclone that maintains cyclone strength over sub-tropical waters) or an Ex-Tropical Cyclone with severe characteristics. Its not just the cyclone New Zealanders need to prepare for….

New Zealand Metservice Severe Weather Outlook

New Zealand Metservice Severe Weather Outlook

 

 

WEDNESDAY:

A low pressure trough associated wit a strong tropical low is forecast to directly impact the entire Country during Wednesday. The low itself is expected to linger offshore for a little longer, but the trough is likely to sweep the country during the day bringing widespread heavy rain and thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are likely to be accompanied by heavy rain and potentially damaging winds, however widespread rain areas could result in flooding throughout the day with widespread falls of 50-100mm likely and isolated to scattered falls of 100-150mm+ possible.

THURSDAY / FRIDAY:

Then comes Cook for a double hit.. Cook / Ex-Cook according to global models is expected to make landfall across the Northern Coastline of the North Island during Thursday evening / night with all heavyweight models that cover the area in agreement for this. The system on GFS and EC models is packing a huge punch with widespread swaths of damaging winds, and destructive to very destructive winds of up to 150-170km/h expected near the “eye”. These kinds of gusts are likely to bring down powerlines cutting power for several days, potentially blow roofs off houses and bring down trees. Further widespread heavy rain is expected across the North Island as the system tracks straight through the heart of NZ towards Wellington and along the NZ South Island Eastern Coastline. Damaging to destructive winds accompanying it the whole time. Falls of 50-100mm are likely once again with isolated falls of up to 200mm possible. Dangerous seas and potential storm surges along the entire Northern and Eastern Coastline of NZ is expected.

Flooding is a huge risk with this system, not only due to widespread 3-day totals of 100-200mm likely and scattered falls of up to 300mm but due to the ground being saturated from last weeks deluge. Some flooded areas may have not fully recovered yet and could flood at the first sign of rain. People are urged to prepare now if they haven’t already and brace for a very chaotic few days to end the week.

"EC

 

10 04, 2017

Cyclone Warning for Tiwi Islands, Frances could be named Tuesday!

The Tiwi Islands have been placed under a Cyclone Warning as a strong Tropical Low looks to intensify into a Category 1 system tomorrow (Tuesday) prior to landfall. North-Western Northern Territory regions have also been placed under a Cyclone Watch with gales and heavy rain likely to lash Darwin and areas South of Darwin. Above image via Weatherzone

As of 6pm, Invest 96P was located approximately 340km North-North-East of Darwin, in the Central Arafura Sea. The system remains very unorganised and messy on satellite imagery and animation, however a weak rotation can still be detected amongst the widespread messy convection. Signs this afternoon (Monday afternoon), though the form of lightning and bursts of convection, indicate the system is about to go through an intensification period which has a high chance of resulting in Invest 96P becoming Tropical Cyclone Frances.

 

BOM Forecast Track for Tropical Low / Cyclone Frances issued 5:15pm ACST Monday, April 10th

BOM Forecast Track for Tropical Low / Cyclone Frances issued 5:15pm ACST Monday, April 10th

 

 

The system is currently tracking South-South-West but is expected to interact with a ridging pattern over Central Australia resulting in a slightly more South-West which has the potential to place it directly over the Tiwi Islands as a Category 1 system. If this was the case, damaging wind gusts are likely across the islands with a weak storm surge resulting in shallow inundation along the direct Northern Coastline of the Islands. Heavy rain and squally winds are expected to lash Darwin and surrounds where a Severe Weather Warning is current. Flash Flooding is likely for some regions with falls of 100-200mm likely, and isolated falls to 300mm possible over the net 2-3 days.

 

Forecast 3-day rainfall via ECMWF (WindyTV) - red/pink >100mm, light pink >200mm, purple >300mm

Forecast 3-day rainfall via ECMWF (WindyTV) – red/pink >100mm, light pink >200mm, purple >300mm

 

 

During Wednesday and beyond, there is some discrepancy with forecast and heavyweight forecast models, where its about 50% either way – half of them (and half of the heavyweights) are pushing the system West and into open waters where it could intensify into a Category 4 or 5 system but impact nobody (like Severe Tropical Cyclone Ernie), the other half have the system glancing the Kimberley Coast and tracking somewhat down the Coast towards the Pilbara. This will remain up in the air until Frances enters the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and its interaction with a high pressure ridge becomes evident.

 

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10 04, 2017

New Caledonia bracing for Severe Cyclone Cook!

New Caledonia is on the brink of a direct hit from Severe, Category 3, Cyclone Cook this afternoon as the system continues to intensify! Above image via NOAA

The Vanuatu Islands, apart from some gusty winds and heavy rain, escaped relatively unharmed from Cyclone Cook, however the threat now IMMEDIATELY shifts to New Caledonia who are bracing for a direct hit straight down the core from now a Severe Tropical Cyclone, with winds to 200km/h! Very destructive winds near the core of the system are likely to produce widespread damage with trees downed, power lines and power generators damaged and infrastructure damage. Due to the track of the system, its reasonable to think the entire island may lose power and could be without power for an extensive period of time. As of 2013, the region was home to more than 250,000 people with the capital Noumea (home to 100,000 people) on the dangerous South-East side of the system.

Fiji Metservice Forecast for Severe Cyclone Cook issued Midnight April 10th

Fiji Metservice Forecast for Severe Cyclone Cook issued Midnight April 10th

 

Other threats for the region include heavy to torrential rain which would have started last night but is expected to significantly ramp up over the next several hours as the system continues to near and cross the island. Heavy falls of more than 50-80mm/hr are possible with grand totals in excess of 300mm likely, causing flash flooding, river and creek rises and town inundation for any low lying areas. Severe storm surges are also expected, mainly on the Northern shoreline as the system approaches which may cause coastal inundation with dangerous seas also likely.

new-caledonia-cook-map

 

Our thoughts go out to those on New Caledonia as they prepare for one dangerous system. Our thoughts also go out to those in New Zealand who continue to clean up from Ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie and who are likely to be in the path of the what will likely be Ex-Tropical Cyclone Cook by the end of the week. Dangerous conditions are once again expected with this system in the form of heavy rain and strong to damaging winds – further details will be issued once the system comes closer to landfall.

Metservice Severe Weather Outlook for Wednesday to Friday

Metservice Severe Weather Outlook for Wednesday to Friday

 

9 04, 2017

Tropical Low brewing into possible Cyclone near the NT

A Tropical Low which is currently situated over the Northern Arafura Sea is showing good signs of potentially becoming a Cyclone over the next several days! Above image via WindyTV (6 day rainfall – European Model – red >100mm, purple >300mm)

A tropical low is currently situated over the Islands North of the Northern Territory, in the Northern Arafura Sea. Models at this stage are showing high variance outside of the current 48hr time frame (up until Tuesday morning), however they are all agreeing that the system has the capability of becoming the 7th tropical cyclone of the Australian season, and the 4th in a matter of 2 weeks, in what is definitely shaping up as a fast finishing season.

 

JTWC Forecast (Medium Risk) for Invest 96S

JTWC Forecast (Medium Risk) for Invest 96S

 

The Tropical Low is expected to track South towards the Northern Territory during Sunday and Monday. Some models are showing a direct impact on Darwin, others are showing it veering more towards the South-West and into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf (Waters North of the Kimberley). The final track during this period will be critical as to whether or not the system becomes Cyclone Frances. Very warm sea surface temperatures of 29-30ºc in the Arafura Sea and J.B Gulf along with low to moderate vertical wind shear are creating an environment which is good enough for the system to intensify at a steady pace. The critical part of this process will be whether or not land interaction halts the intensification process – the longer over open waters, the more chance Tropical Cyclone status will be reached. At this stage, cyclone formation more likely than not (50-75% chance). Beyond Tuesday, the overall track of the system is varied, however all models eventually have it moving down the Kimberley and Pilbara Coastline or just offshore from them.

 

GFS Ensemble track guidance for Invest 96S via Tropicaltidbits

GFS Ensemble track guidance for Invest 96S via Tropicaltidbits

 

 

Heavy rain is likely to be the key threat from this system with flash flooding likely across the Northern Territory (mostly in the North-East where the winds remain onshore throughout the system’s early stages). Some creek and river rises/flooding are possible also. Falls of 100mm+ are expected to become widespread over the next week through the Northern Territory and Kimberley, with isolated to scattered falls of 250mm+ also likely. Strong to damaging winds are expected to accompany the system with potentially destructive winds (>125km/h) near its core if it can develop further into a Cyclone. 

 

BOM 8 day rainfall (valid April 9th to 16th)

BOM 8 day rainfall (valid April 9th to 16th)

 

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7 04, 2017

Ernie becomes a Category 5 monster!

In true cyclone fashion, nothing is ever as it seems.. Ernie has produced some of the most rapid intensification possible to go from Tropical Low to Category 5 monster status in a matter of 19hrs! Above image via NOAA

Early on Friday morning (2am AWST), Invest 94S was casually drifting around the Indian Ocean, around 1100km North-West of Port Hedland or 1300-1400km West-North-West of Broome. By 3am, Ernie was officially named, with ALL global models indicating the system despite being in very favourable waters with minimal vertical wind shear and very warm 28-29ºc waters would only reach Category 2 status at best.

By 9am AWST, Category 2 status was reached, by mid afternoon Category 3 severe strength was skipped and the system was already deemed Category 4 strength with 230km/h winds. By 9pm Friday night (a tiny 19hrs after being nothing), Category 5 status was obtained with winds gusting to 285km/h. This officially makes Ernie the strongest system of the 2016-17 season.

Ernie Track Map issued by BOM at 8:17pm AWST Friday April 7th

Ernie Track Map issued by BOM at 8:17pm AWST Friday April 7th

 

 

So how did it go from nothing to something so huge in such a short period of time? Well this is almost identical to the infamous Cyclone Marcia. Both systems have resembled very similar qualities, thankfully Ernie is away from everyone and NOT going to impact a soul. Both systems are very similar with incredible poleward outflow push and absolutely zero dry air intruding in on the eye. This allows the system to harness the most power possible from the very warm oceans and very favourable wind shear. Lightning has remained evident in the eye wall region all day, this indicates that the eye is continuing to produce explosive convection which is allowing for further consolidation and intensification rather than being washed out which can occur in larger systems as more energy is required due to their widespread nature. The slow movement of less than 10km/h has allowed the system to keep holding onto these favourable conditions.

 

While its interesting to see just how far this system can go, as stated above, its staying away from all souls as it lingers around 1000km North-West of Port Hedland and away from the Cocos Island/Christmas Island region. The system is still expected to move away from WA over the next few days and still expected to weaken as it enters a more unfavourable environment.

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7 04, 2017

Vanuatu and New Caledonia on Cyclone Watch

The Vanuatu Islands and New Caledonia are expected to be placed on Cyclone Watch this weekend with models remaining in agreement that not only a system, but a significant system has the potential to impact the region in what has been a very quiet season so far. Above image via WindyTV (Monday 10am wind gusts – EC Model).

As of Saturday morning, a Tropical Low was located North-North-East of Port Vila. Models remain in full agreement that this system over the next 12-24hrs is expected to strengthen as it drifts towards the South. During this weekend, due to the location of the system, heavy rain is forecast to lash the Vanuatu Islands with the Southern Island (including Port Vila) under the heaviest threat. During Saturday evening, forecast models are indicating that the system will likely reach Cyclone strength (appears to be named Cyclone Cook) and maintain its previous track where it could strengthen into a Category 2 by Sunday and directly impact the Port Vila region (based off some heavyweight models). Regardless of where it tracks, across the Saturday and Sunday period its likely to cross directly over several islands in the Vanuatu region due to the large cluster of islands that is present in the region. Heavy rain to torrential rain is likely across all Islands with the more Southern Islands copping the rain for a longer period of time

 

Forecast Track Map via Vanuatu Meteorological Service (issued 8:50am Saturday April 8th)

Forecast Track Map via Vanuatu Meteorological Service (issued 8:50am Saturday April 8th)

 

 

During Monday, models are indicating that the system may veer more towards the South-West into open waters between New Caledonia and Vanuatu, before shifting back towards the South due to a high pressure ridge in the Coral Sea where it will intensify and potentially make landfall over New Caledonia as a Category 4 system. Regardless of its final track, the system is once again expected to directly impact many Islands, while also impacting New Caledonia as its positioning will at least produce significant rainfall across the region.

 

Forecast wind gusts via EC Model (WindyTV) - pink near the eye indicates winds to over 165km/h (Category 3)

Forecast wind gusts via EC Model (WindyTV) – pink near the eye indicates winds to over 165km/h (Category 3)

 

Beyond Tuesday, there is some model disagreement as to the exact track of the system due to its interaction with a high pressure system moving across Southern Australia and the Tasman. It will most likely take a South-Easterly track where it could very well end up around New Zealand just a week after Ex-TC Debbie caused chaos over the country. This track (beyond Tuesday) is highly subject to change and its advised those in New Zealand are at least aware of the system, but not to panic – there is every chance it could still shift more South-East than expected and miss the country completely. 

 

Forecast track ensemble via Tropicaltidbits

Forecast track ensemble via Tropicaltidbits

 

Across the Saturday to Tuesday period, very heavy rainfall with widespread totals in excess of 250mm possible through Vanuatu and New Caledonia and isolated falls to 600mm+ being possible also. Very destructive winds near the system’s eye could impact many islands which could severely impact power and infrastructure. Flooding is also a high risk of occurring with many low lying areas being susceptible. While dangerous seas and storm surge’s are also hazards.

"Forecast

 

 

 

7 04, 2017

NSW & VIC set for a wild few days – ECL & Snow on the forecast!

New South Wales and Victoria are expected to see to experience some wild weather over the next several days as warm temperatures bring some storms, followed by a blast of winter-like conditions triggering snowfall. An East Coast Low is expected to develop also on Monday which may bring flooding rain to Eastern parts of VIC. Above image – temperatures at 17,000ft showing the cold pool over VIC on Sunday via GFS/BSCH

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During Saturday, a trough is forecast to sweep through Western and Central Victoria, possibly even Far South-Western NSW. This trough is expected to precede a cold front / cold pool combination, with warm air feeding into the system from the North and North-East. This warm air is expected to combine with enough moisture that instability should develop and this is expected to trigger some thunderstorms across Victoria. These storms could develop in a line, and there is a slight chance some could become severe with heavy rain and damaging winds the main threat. Conditions are expected to rapidly deteriorate across Sunday though.

 

Red circle showing where thunderstorms are most likely in VIC during Saturday - image total totals via BSCH/GFS

Red circle showing where thunderstorms are most likely in VIC during Saturday – image total totals via BSCH/GFS

 

 

During Sunday, a cold front is forecast to sweep through VIC and Southern NSW during the day, with warm temperatures in the low to possibly mid 20’s rapidly dropping into the low to mid teens behind it. This cold front has a chance of sparking some thunderstorms across Eastern VIC and South-East/Eastern NSW during the afternoon, but the real action is expected to be behind it as a strong cold pool mixes with enough moisture to generate snow down to possibly 1000m in VIC and 1100m in NSW. Snow isn’t expected to start falling until after dark on Sunday where falls of 20cm are possible across the Snowy’s. The cold pool may also trigger some hail showers and isolated hailstorms across the remainder of VIC as weak instability combines with frigid upper level temps.

EC forecast 6 day snow via WindyTV

EC forecast 6 day snow via WindyTV

 

 

Monday, and the system is expected to move offshore, however its not done with yet as models agree on an East Coast Low developing off the NSW South Coast. This ECL is likely to hang around for the day producing strong to damaging winds along the Coastline and through the Snowy Mountains, while pumping Eastern and Central VIC with constant rain where falls of 50-100mm, possibly higher are expected. This potential has lead to a flood watch being issued for Greater Melbourne and Eastern VIC. The system should move away on Tuesday.

Monday afternoon winds via GFS/BSCH showing the ECL offshore

Monday afternoon winds via GFS/BSCH showing the ECL offshore

Forecast 6 day rainfall via EC/WindyTV showing 100mm+ for Eastern VIC (red colour) and 50mm+ for South-East NSW / Central VIC (yellow/gold colour)

Forecast 6 day rainfall via EC/WindyTV showing 100mm+ for Eastern VIC (red colour) and 50mm+ for South-East NSW / Central VIC (yellow/gold colour)

 

 

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7 04, 2017

Tropical Cyclone Ernie develops

Tropical Cyclone Ernie was officially named early on Friday morning and has become the 6th Cyclone for the season, in what is now shaping up as a season which is making up for lost time. Above image via NOAA

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Tropical Cyclone Ernie was officially upgraded from Invest 94S (Tropical Low) into a Category 1 Cyclone just before 5am AEST and then upgraded to a Category 2 system shortly before 11am AEST. This system remains in a favourable environment for further intensification as it lingers in the Indian Ocean approximately 1000km North-West of Port Hedland or around halfway between the WA Coast and the Christmas/Cocos Island region. Very warm Indian Ocean waters of 28-30ºc are present in the vicinity of the Cyclone and this combined with slightly favourable vertical wind shear could allow for the system to become a Category 3 SEVERE Tropical Cyclone late on Friday night or early on Saturday morning prior to sunrise.

 

 

 

Where does Ernie go from there?? Away into the middle of nowhere. A large and strong high pressure system is forecast to produce a strong ridge over Central and even parts of Northern WA which will block any South-Easterly movement. The shape of the ridge though is likely to mean Ernie will track in a more South-West to Westerly motion and this will mean he enters a more unfavourable environment with slightly cooler sea surface temperatures and slightly higher vertical wind shear. This essentially means beyond Monday, Ernie will struggle to maintain Cyclone strength and will most likely be downgraded. Peak wind gusts of up to 190km/h are expected in the system (Severe Category 3) and apart from some rough seas for any vessels in the region.. nobody at all is expected to be impacted by this system.

European Model via WindyTV showing Category 3 strength at 1am Saturday

European Model via WindyTV showing Category 3 strength at 1am Saturday

 

While this system isn’t impacting anyone, we believe its still worth mentioning that is has developed into a Cyclone as it will be added to an ever-growing tally. After a very slow start to the Season once again, and what seemed to be another flop of a season, Ernie is the 3rd Cyclone to develop in 2 weeks and it may not be done with there as eyes are watching another possible system across the NT and Northern WA region for next week which models are consolidating on.

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6 04, 2017

Tropical Low could become Cyclone Ernie

It looks like the Indian Ocean is about to fire up with some tropical activity as the potential for tropical cyclone development increases this weekend. Above image via WindyTV (Euro Model, Saturday morning Wind Gusts)

A monsoon trough has become active once again across the Northern Indian Ocean, North of the Northern Territory and across the Northern Coral Sea. This trough over the last 12-24hrs (late Wednesday into Thursday) has developed a tropical low which is currently situated about 1200km North-West of Port Hedland / 1400km West-North-West of Broome as of midday AWST on Thursday.

This low is showing all the signs of further development with strong convection and consistent convection being highly noticeable along with convective banding which is producing lightning, wrapping into the low level circulation centre.

 

 

Over the course Friday and especially into Saturday, the system is expected to track South to possibly South-East along/ahead of a high pressure Ridge which will steer the system into a favourable environment of low level wind shear and very warm sea surface temperatures. During this time the system has a good chance of becoming Cyclone Ernie with all modes on board for cyclonic strength. Damaging to possibly destructive winds and dangerous seas pose the biggest threat.

During Sunday onwards, the Ridge will move through and the system will likely be steered towards the South-West and into an unfavourable environment.

Note: this is unlikely to pose a threat to Mainland Australian or the Christmas/Cocos Island region! However conditions will be closely monitored

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