< Ocean Observing Systems - What can we learn from our experiences?
30.05.2015 08:36 Age: 3 yrs
Category: FAIMMS, Q-IMOS

Lizard Island: another year another cyclone

In April 2014 Lizard Island was battered by Tropical Cyclone Ita, a Category 4 system that passed within 10 kilometres of the island.

Lizard Island IMOS weather station. Photo: AIMS.

Wind speed measured by the IMOS weather station at Lizard Island during Cyclone Ita.

Wind speed measured by the IMOS weather station at Lizard Island during Cyclone Nathan.

The IMOS weather station on the island recorded a drop in pressure to 954 hPa and winds up to 160 kph as the cyclone passed over, taking some 10 hours to pass from the north-north-east.

In April 2015, almost a year to the day, a second cyclone passed over the island. Tropical Cyclone Nathan passed as a Category 4/5 with a pressure minimum of 965 hPa but winds of over 180 kph. The cyclone moved quickly taking only three hours to pass and so while the winds were higher the system was moving faster than Ita a year before. Nathan was not only faster but came from a different direction passing more to the west and so different parts of the island were impacted by the two cyclones.

The IMOS weather station withstood both cyclones although Nathan damaged the power systems and so the station was off the air a number of days as the batteries ran flat. A trip in early May has seen the station repaired and back on line.

The data form an important part of understanding not only how cyclones impact the reef but how the speed, intensity and direction of the cyclone can dramatically change the impact both on the land and for the reefs itself.