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Tropical Cyclone Blanche arrives in WA
Tropical Cyclone Blanche scored a direct hit on the middle of the western shoreline of Bonaparte Gulf, between Wyndham and Kalumburu, late this morning after increasing to Category 2 intensity overnight. Although it would have had wind gusts to 150km/h when it hit, no reports of damage have yet been received from this little-populated part of the coastline.
The cyclone has continued to move to the SW as forecast, but picked up some speed in the latter stages of its trip across the Gulf. It rapidly lost strength as it moved over land this afternoon and was downgraded to a tropical low by 17.00 when it was 100km W of Wyndham. However, it still has average winds near the centre of 55km/h gusting to 85km/h and, although the Severe Weather Warning for the Kimberley as well as Tropical Cyclone Warnings and Watches have been cancelled, rain heavy enough to cause flash flooding is still possible.
The tropical low is expected to move back out to sea north of Broome on Wednesday, but the Bureau expects the situation in the upper atmosphere and the influence in that area of dry air will prevent redevelopment.
First BoM Drought Statement issued in seven months as Bundaberg region drought-declared
The Bureau today issued its first Drought Statement since August last year. Between then and now, heavy to in places record rainfall cleared drought deficiencies for periods shorter than three years. However, since December 2016, some very dry months in places have seen short-term rainfall deficiencies increase and soil moisture levels decrease rapidly, particularly in parts of southeastern QLD and northern NSW. This month's Drought Statement contains the details.
Meanwhile, the QLD State Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne has declare the Bundaberg region in drought from March 1, bringing to 84.29% of the area of QLD officially in drought. More on this story at ABC Rural. It's important to note that BoM drought or rainfall deficiencies are based simply on how much rain falls compared to average while official drought declarations are based on a range of complex criteria.
Australian weather briefs
- The total insurance payouts for the thunderstorms that swept across parts of Sydney on 17 and 18 February have been estimated by two of Australia's major insurance companies, IAG and Suncorp, to be $310 million from 31,000 claims received, according to SBS. Suncorp added that it was assessing as many as 650 cars a day.
- Bundaberg airport, Maryborough and Hervey Bay airport QLD had a record hot day today. Bundaberg's 38.5° was its highest recorded in any month in a 38-year history, while Maryborough's 38.0° added a remarkable 1.4° to its previous March record of 36.6° set in 1988 over a long 57-year history. Hervey Bay, with a short 15-year history, recorded a top temperature of 35.4° beating its previous March high of 33.7° in 2005.