CYCLONE DEBBIE: The aftermath as seen on March 29, 2017.
CYCLONE DEBBIE: The aftermath as seen on March 29, 2017. Peter Carruthers

BOM TC Debbie report released

THE Bureau of Meteorology's technical report on Cyclone Debbie reveals the winds that devastated Airlie Beach just more than 12 months ago may have been from a higher category than first thought.

The report provided a summary of data associated with TC Debbie that concluded the cyclone affected the Whitsunday islands as a low-end category 4 tropical cyclone before making landfall on the mainland coast, near Airlie Beach, as a high-end category 3 tropical cyclone on March 28, 2017.

However the report also noted it was "probable parts of the mainland coast not equipped with observations equipment may have experienced category 4 strength winds between Airlie Beach and Cape Conway”.

The BOM conclusion reads: "The reasoning for this statement is that parts of the eyewall extended along this area of the mainland coast while Debbie remained as a category 4 cyclone as it crossed the Whitsunday islands.”

Wind readings from the BOM's weather station on Hamilton Island during TC Debbie's approach were analysed, finding the 263km/h (high category 4) wind gust recorded (the highest gust recorded in Queensland) was indicative of a high category 3 gust at 10m altitude over flat terrain.

However, due to topographical speed-up factors and the distribution of deep convection around TC Debbie's eye during maximum winds at Hamilton Island, a low category 4 intensity (maximum 10-minute average winds of 165km/h) was assigned to the cyclone while near the Whitsundays.

A video to coincide with the anniversary has been released through YouTube.

The full publication is available on BOM's website.

Report facts:

  • More than 100,000 requests for recovery assistance received and $25 million in recovery grants issued.
  • More than 2300 homes damaged.
  • Almost 1000 homes declared uninhabitable.
  • Agricultural crop damage estimated at almost $1 billion.
  • Loss of coal exports could exceed $1.5 billion.
  • 64 tropical cyclone advices issued by BOM.
  • Record flooding occurred on the Burdekin as well as the Kolan, Burnett, Brisbane, Logan, Albert, Condamine-Balonne and Tweed Rivers.
  • The Queensland Reconstruction Authority estimates damage to public infrastructure is more than $650 million.
  • Estimated $450 million impact to agriculture and over $150 million in losses to the tourism industry.
  • The impacts associated with TC Debbie extended across the Tasman as far as New Zealand, where flooding and landslides occurred.
  • At more than $1.7 billion in insurance claims, the Insurance Council of Australia has described Debbie as the second most financially damaging storm in the nation's history, second only to Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

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