A very strong tropical cyclone is going to hit the northwest portion of Australia very soon. As of 11:15 PM on April 10, the cyclone has yet to make landfall. So what is a cyclone?
A tropical cyclone is very similar to a hurricane, we just call them different names. Much like we name our tropical storms and hurricanes, the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia also names tropical cyclones. This one in particular is named Ita. Here’s a satellite image of Ita as it approaches landfall.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Ita is expected to track to the south-southwest and make landfall sometime during the day on April 11th. Ita is expected to remain a storm of intensity number 5, which only the most intense tropical cyclones get. Ita is expected to rapidly weaken as it moves inland, with the main threat being flooding. Below is the projected track of Tropical Cyclone Ita.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has a network of radar systems across Australia, similar to that of the United States. Meteorologists in Australia will use this to help track Ita’s movement inland as well as some potential impacts. Here is an example radar image of Tropical Cyclone Ita. (The center of the tropical cyclone is located inside the red circle)
One neat tool meteorologists across the globe can use to help visualize wind direction and speed is a windstream map. Earth.nullschool.net is a great site to access for high definition streamlines. You can access the entire globe and choose between different products and heights in the atmosphere. Below is a sample screenshot of this map.
Tropical Cyclone Ita will likely make global news headlines once it makes landfall in Australia. There will likely be devastating pictures of wind damage as well as flooding as it moves inland. Wind gusts are forecast to be in excess of 125 km/hr once it makes landfall in northwest Australia.