She’s made landfall… finally.
She’s been a slow old cow of a cyclone. All this loitering around has allowed her to gain size and strength, and she’s dawdled down our way, curtseying this way and that while she picked her spot. She toyed with Hamilton Island for a while, much to the fury of the tourists at the luxury resorts there, who couldn’t get home because all flights were cancelled. Ayr looked like her first choice, then Bowen, then Mackay, then back to Bowen. She finally made up her mind and stepped ashore on the mainland at Airlie Beach, south of Bowen and north of Mackay. Airlie’s currently got a couple of hours of respite, being in the eye right now, but we’ve seen some shocking and very widespread damage on the news. She’ll be coming round to slap them on the other cheek soon… Bowen’s next, being on approximately the same latitude and further east, following the order of circulation. Proserpine will get a drubbing too.
She’s been increasing in strength the whole time, and in the final stages of her journey, it was debatable whether she’d turn into a Category 5, but she finally crossed still as a 4. The eye is about 50km across, so you could stand in the centre and not be able to see the ‘arena’* or even know there was anything going on. She’s been clearly visible from a long way out in space, which is unusual. You have to remember that this bad girl is over 500km/310 miles across
It’s still going to take a while before the bad weather is over for us. We’re to the south of the track, where the worst of the damage is to be expected – cyclones rotate clockwise, unlike typhoons or hurricanes in the northern hemisphere, which rotate the other way. Once the wind has passed over land, it eases somewhat, so areas to the the north of the track experience less damage. We’re also low-lying, so the storm surge is probably our biggest worry, and from what we’ve seen of the coverage, it’s already bad and some areas in Mackay are already well under water. Given that we had high tide 2 hours ago, and the rain is incessant, I don’t see that situation resolving any time soon.
Our winds have picked up. It’s screaming like the damned out there, trees are lying right over, and the rain is hammering on the windows like it was being squirted out of a fire hose. The weather station at the airport is where we’re pulling our data, but it hasn’t updated for a while. I know the pressure is dropping steadily as the wind increases. Now we just sit tight and wait, and wait some more. But we’re safe from the deadliest part of the cyclone, we just have very dirty weather. She’ll be turning south and east now, losing intensity all the time, and bringing some desperately needed rain to inland areas.
*For an idea of how this looks take a look at this “Katrina, Hurricane: inside eyewall of storm”. Photo. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.