Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica just off the Pilbara coast and Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor over the southern Gulf of Carpentaria are expected to affect the northern coast coast of Australia.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica over the NW Shelf has maximum winds of 90kt. It is expected to move SE and make landfall near Port Hedland at Category 4 intensity tomorrow morning. After landfall, STC VERONICA is expected to slow down and move erratically before moving W-WSW on the 25th along the Pilbara coast towards the NW Cape.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor is about to make landfall over the NT coast, SE of the Pellew Islands. Trevor has maximum winds of 100kt near the centre and expected to weaken slightly before landfall. It will then weaken steadily overland.

Both Severe Tropical Cyclones are set to bring destructive winds and heavy falls.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology latest ENSO Outlook, the current neutral El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has been raised to an El Niño ALERT. The chance of El Niño developing in 2019 has increased to approximately 70%, around triple the normal likelihood.

The latest WMO Climate Applications and Services El Niño/La Niña Update says, “the Sea surface temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific were at or slightly below El Niño thresholds in January and February 2019, after maintaining weak El Niño levels during the last quarter of 2018. However, very few atmospheric indicators responded to the warmer than average sea surface temperatures until late January and February, when some finally reached weak El Niño levels in the central Pacific. Around two thirds of the models from WMO Global Producing Centres of Long Range Forecasts predict ocean temperatures to again reach weak El Niño levels during the second quarter of 2019. Given current conditions and model outlooks, the chance of an El Niño event to occur during March–May 2019 is estimated to be about 50–60%. The chance for a strong El Niño is low. The outlook for the second half of 2019 is currently uncertain. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will continue to closely monitor changes in the state of ENSO over the coming months.”

In Australia, El Niño typically cause reduced rainfall, warmer temperatures and shift on the extremes, reduced tropical cyclones and delay on monsoon onset.

For more information on the BoM ENSO Wrap-Up:

Tropical Cyclone Marcus (March 2018)

Neutral to weak El Nino conditions are expected through the 2018/2019 Australian tropical cyclone season. These conditions should result in a slightly below average of Tropical Cyclones (TC) over the Australian Region, with about 7 expected and with 4 becoming Severe Tropical Cyclones (STC). Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) is expected to be near the climatological average across the three regions, with about 5-6 coastal impacts across all regions.

The TC season should start mid-November and finish in late April. TCs should be active for a slightly below average number of days during the season. The number of expected TC days is 29.


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The lava lake from the top eastern flank of Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii vanished on April 30, 2018.  A day later,  red-hot, molten rocks spew from a subdivision 10 miles away.  This episode is the latest eruption of Kilauea volcano, one of the world’s longest continuously erupting volcano.

Kilauea is a shield volcano. Like many Hawaiian volcanoes, Kilauea is made of basalt, a type of lava that flows very easily. Shield volcanoes are built by effusive eruptions which flow out in all directions creating a low-angle slope like a shield of a warrior.  A shield volcano is not dramatic compared to stratovolcano or composite volcano which is conical in shape and characterised by steep towering peak built by many layers of hardened lava.

Kilauea is the youngest of Hawaii’s aboveground volcanoes with two main craters –  one at the summit Halemaumau and Puu Oo, on the eastern flank. For the past years, the eruptions have alternated between the two.

Volcanoes give warnings when they are about to erupt.  The emptying of the Puu Oo crater’s lava lake and weeks of uplift around the crater all signaled that something is building up under the surface.  It was unusual that the new fissures opened up so far from the main vent at Puu Oo.

7am May 8, 2018, the Kilauae’s lower East Rift Zone has paused. Gas emissions continue & the fissure system is about 2.5mi long.

April 17, 2018 Lava overflows a small crater in Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone, adjacent to the main Pu’u ‘Ō’ō crater.

131107142831-02-typhoon-1107-story-topOffshore Weather Services (OWS) Tropical Cyclone Season Outlook for 2018 indicates the expected number of tropical cyclones (TC) over the NW Pacific region is 24, which is close to the long term (1970‐2016) average. The tropical cyclones are expected to be of slightly above average intensity with Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) 113% of normal.

The first 3 months of 2018 have seen negative conditions over the central Pacific, close to the La Nina threshold (‐0.8). The overwhelming majority of CGCM models show the NINO3.4 anomaly increasing during the next few months with the model average becoming positive around July. The average then continues to increase till December but remains below the El Niño threshold.

For more details of the 2018 Northwest Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season Outlook, please click the link below:

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BoM ENSO Outlook

According to the latest Bureau of Meteorology ENSO update, the 2017–18 La Niña has ended with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators easing back to neutral levels.  With this development, the Bureau shifted the ENSO Outlook from LA NIÑA to INACTIVE.

Follow links below for more details:

Tropical Low OWS06S18 has developed SE the Bonaparte Gulf and is expected to track southwest and slowly intensify as it remains over land in the northern Kimberley. TL OWS06S18 is expected to move offshore just north of Broome on the 16th and intensify more rapidly becoming a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone in the evening.

Available numerical models are in a spread from the 17th but the consensus indicates the system will become slow moving as it gradually intensifies on the 17th-18th.  It is expected to track SSE-SSW and should make its landfall near Port Hedland on the 19th.

Forecast track of Tropical Low OWS06S18 issued 0600UTC Feb 14 2018

According to the BoM latest Drought Statement, above average rainfall for Western Australia eases deficiencies across WA but remain along the coast of Pilbara and Gascoyne.

It is a different story on eastern Australia.  Rainfall deficiencies have increased in eastern Australia, with large areas of western and central inland Queensland and central eastern New South Wales affected.

Please follow the link below for more details:

Rainfall Deficiencies: 10 months (1 April 2017 – 31 January 2018)

In Australia, about 10 people die each year from lightning strikes.  A hundred more gets injured each year.  To be safe, at the first signs of visual lightning or audible thunder – go indoors.  No place outdoors is safe.

How about lightning strikes on commercial planes?  Is it safe to fly in lightning?

Commercial planes are hit by lightning daily and designed to take lightning strikes.  Lightning typically strikes a relatively sharp edge of a plane, like a wingtip or nose, and the current exits via the tail. This happens because an aircraft’s body acts as a Faraday cage.

A Faraday cage operates because an external electrical field causes the electric charges within the cage’s conducting material to be distributed such that they cancel the field’s effect in the cage’s interior. When a lightning strikes an airplane, the energy and electric charge run around the outside of the vessel, protecting the interior from any voltage.

Therefore from a safety standpoint, lightning strikes on commercial planes are not a severe problem compared to turbulence or hail damage which can cause more catastrophic consequences.

Lightning flashes behind a Qantas plane, as captured from La Perouse on October 2015. Photo: Daniel Shaw

Three moon cycles will line up over Australia on Jan 31.  A supermoon, a total lunar eclipse, and a blue moon converge for a celestial view that will produce a bright, red moon.

This rare phenomenon last occurred in 1866 in the western hemisphere, more that 150 years ago.  Super blue blood moon means the second full moon for January 2018 (a blue moon) will be at its closest point to the Earth, appearing bigger and brighter (a super moon) and will be in the Earth shadow (lunar eclipse) as it passes directly behind the Earth.

The best vantage points will the the eastern coast of Australia (NSW and Queensland).  In Melbourne, the best place to view is the eastern suburbs.  If the weather and cloud cover don’t cooperate, watch the NASA Livestream instead.  So go out on January 31 and watch the wonderful night sky as this rare celestial even unfolds.

  • Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart: Full eclipse from 11.51pm to 1.08am
  • Darwin: Total eclipse from 10.21pm to 11.38pm
  • Brisbane: Total eclipse from 10.51pm to 12.08am
  • Adelaide: Total eclipse from 11.21pm to 12.38am
  • Perth: Total eclipse from 8.51pm to 10.08pm

Image: Blood moon lunar eclipse via