How do we know that Cyclone Marcia was a Category 5 at landfall?

Track map BOMTHE Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a media release last night (19thFebruary) with the headline “Tropical Cyclone Marcia to reach Category 5 system at landfall”.    This morning there was extensive media reporting of Marcia having reached landfall as a Category 5.

But where is the evidence?  And who is asking for it?  Like the Bureau, the Australian media seem intent on hyping the event, rather than providing any critical or dispassionate assessment.

The first technical bulletin for Marcia, issued at 4pm today states that, “surface observations have not captured the highest winds,” and acknowledges that the minimum pressure so far recorded has been 975 hPa inside the eye wall at 1.30 pm at Rockhampton.

In fact, this central pressure only qualifies Marcia as a Category 2.  As one would expect of a category 2, both Rockhampton and Yeppoon have sustained relatively minor house damage and significant damage to trees.

Just before the cyclone made landfall it passed over Middle Percy Island, to the north of Rockhampton, and the lowest central pressure recorded for the system then was 971.6 hPa at 3.39 am this morning.   A wind gust of 208 km/hr was recorded at 4.30 am, which suggests Marcia was almost a Category 3 at this time, even though its central pressure was never recorded as below 970 hPa.   The central pressure of a cyclone needs to be somewhere in the 970 to 955 hPa range to be a Category 3.

This would suggest that even as Marcia approached the Queensland coastline it was never more than a Category 2.

Indeed the raw observational data available at the Bureau’s website would suggest that Cyclone Marcia made landfall just south of Middle Percy Island as a Category 2 approaching a Category 3, but had already weakened to a very ordinary Category 2 approaching Category 1 by the time it reached the city of Rockhampton.

This evidence, however, contradicts the track map at the Bureau’s website, and also the extensive media suggesting that Cyclone Marcia made landfall as a Category 5, and was still a Category 3 system when it reached Rockhampton.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been hyping the possibility of a devastating cyclone hitting the Queensland coastline all year.  It forecast that Marcia would hit as a Category 5 cyclone, but where is the evidence?

*******

Thanks to everyone who has emailed me today with best wishes, assuming I was in Yeppoon when Marcia hit.   Our house there is still standing, with some trees down in the front yard.  I was in Brisbane last night, and am now in Noosa.

116 Responses to How do we know that Cyclone Marcia was a Category 5 at landfall?

  1. AndrewWA February 20, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    Max winds peed today at Yeppoon was 156kmph with a Baro Low of 985.5 hPa – seems like a Cat 2

  2. Pathway February 21, 2015 at 3:41 am #

    Unfortunately, it seems to be the state of government science that no matter what the data the only thing that matters is the press release fitting the meme.

  3. KEITH.MOSS February 21, 2015 at 3:48 am #

    I was at alva beach in cyclone charlie cat 3 & it passed right over us much more damage than Marcia.Maybe good for MSM =THE TV and other NEWS OUTLETS? HAVE A HABIT OF NOT ALLOWING THE TRUTH TO SPOIL A GOOD STORY.

  4. Margaret armbrust February 21, 2015 at 4:38 am #

    Maybe an investigation into the inexperienced 20 year old who’s in charge of the bureau of meteorology as it appears he has taken ratings from American typhoon centre also new had cyclone moving up the coast that was of the same intensity but this was never mentioned it hit Mullumbimby last night approx 5pm also ballina where I live and this had an eye that was at the same intensity as marcia and NSW wasn’t even informed it was coming ???????

  5. Margaret armbrust February 21, 2015 at 4:56 am #

    http://weathergaines.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/Tropical-Cyclone-Marcia-13P.html?m=1. This link is picture of the cyclones one coming up the NSW Coast the other cyclone marcia The storm coming up the NSW Coast had pressure of 975hPa this makes it catorgy 2 just because they can’t explain why it was moving up the coast is no reason to not inform NSW

  6. spangled drongo February 21, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    Thanks Jen. That’s how I saw it too. I rang the BoM to ask them how they measured their claims of these high windspeeds when Marcia was nowhere near any weather station and I didn’t get a clear answer but it seem to me it is just an estimation.

    It would be interesting to know their actual method of calculating this windspeed.

    Meanwhile, of course, the hype does their cause nothing but good.

  7. John Sayers February 21, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    SD – I noticed gusts of 145km/hr at Yeppoon when it passed over near it on weatherzone site whilst the media were talking Cat5.

    It was a joke. Brisbane got around 150mm instead of the predicted 300mm+

    But did you notice the Wivenhoe and Sommerset dams had 100% flood space available 😉

  8. Graeme M February 21, 2015 at 7:33 am #

    Lot of discussion over at weatherzone forum about this one. I get the feeling that there were some interesting features to Marcia, but the general agreement seems to be small, intense, maybe Cat 3/4 at landfall with an almost immediate softening.

    The thing that gets me is the ridiculous media hype and BOM did nothing to dispel this. Some of the official statements were bordering on alarmism with suggestions that it would be a calamity and some kind of expectation for huge devastation.

    I also don’t follow the suggestion that it is very unusual for a cyclone either this late in the year (it’s not even March yet!) or that far south. Heck as a kid in Maryborough I recall several cyclones either making landfall down our way or pushing past Fraser Island.

    From memory Daisy struck around Bundy in the early 70s and at least one other came ashore somewhere closer to Hervey Bay than that. I also recall a very large cyclone just missing us in the 80s (Pam?).

    The thing to me is that this was a relatively small and mostly unremarkable cyclone that, while it has brought substantial damage in places, was well and truly overhyped. But then, nearly any weather event seems to get this sort of attention these days, as though in the past we actually lived in some beatific, entirely benign period of climatic calm…

  9. John Sayers February 21, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    A cyclone crossed the coast at New Brighton, 20km north of Byron Bay in 1974 and took out a row of houses on the beachfront and I can remember standing on South Golden Beach in the mid 90s with a a small group looking out to sea where a cyclone was apparently forming but it never made landfall.

  10. Gramsy February 21, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    It took me one Google search to find dozens of peer-reviewed papers on this topic. The Dvorak technique is a form of satellite analysis used by all of the top meteorological agencies around the world to estimate wind speeds. They wouldn’t all use it unless it was pretty accurate. I think the ‘hype’ is much to do with the rapid intensification of the system, which has surprised even meteorologists all around the world.

  11. Glen Michel February 21, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    Peter Hannam in the SMH quotes a certain Phil Perkins from the bureau that wind gusts of 285 kph from MARCIA with average of 208kph.Seems a bit out of order ……

  12. spangled drongo February 21, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    John and Graeme, when you see how we are treated [as children] by those in charge [Nanny] it is just another nail in the coffin of climate honesty and further goes to confirm the need for scepticism of/in climate science.

    You really wonder what’s hard to unnerstan about this.

    But I suppose when you’re a tru-blu alarmist this is how it all should be.

    BTW, did you get Annaphylaxis on the ABC yesterday telling us that the BOM had recalculated high tide levels and they would now be 3m higher high tide level rather than 2.6m as previously reported. [the BOM had actually just upgraded high tide heights from 2.6 to 3m but Anna added an extra 3m for extra precaution.

    As it turned out tides in my area tides were no higher than original, standard tide predictions.

  13. James February 21, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    I guess the warnings were overstated to make complacent people risk averse however whenever there may be a real cat 5, many people will think they have already survived a cat 5, will become complacent when they have no real experience or idea how powerful a cat 4 or 5 cyclone can be.

  14. Helena February 21, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    Channel 9 showed footage of a man who had uploaded videos to YouTube from Yeppoon while the cyclone was blowing over, he was on a balcony on the lee side of the cyclone, but I did think it odd that anyone could be outside while a Category 5 cyclone was blowing through

  15. jennifer February 21, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    Gramsy,

    No doubt the Dvorak technique is “world’s best practice” for estimating wind speed and barometric pressure from satellite imagery. But in the end any method of estimation, should be benchmarked against the actual readings from actual instruments that are in place to record barometric pressure and wind speed.

    The eye of the cyclone passed directly over Rockhampton. The instruments in place clearly indicate that the cyclone was a Cat 2 based on central pressure, but with relatively low wind speeds and gusts.

    It is more controversial what the situation was when Marsha made landfall. But given the available evidence, particularly the data from Middle Percy Island, it would appear to have been a Cat 3, at most.

  16. Graeme M February 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Hey SD, I did notice that misstep in describing the expected storm surge. The way Channel 7 were going on most of SE Qld was in danger of being washed away. To be honest I haven’t heard any info about how big a storm surge there really was.

    Rang my folks in Maryborough early yesterday and at that time no real impact beyond rain and a little wind. Must call again and see if it stirred things up as it went by.

  17. Mal Content February 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    There is something insidious about the way the media is hell bent on mischievous, inaccurate dissemination of information, aided and abetted by government agencies who revel in the obsequious grovelling of the media and are referred to reverently as “the authorities”. I was relieved to read Jennifer’s article as I have been criticised for being sceptical of the whole drama as it was breathlessly presented to us ad nauseum. The highlight of my viewing day yesterday was when a reporter was standing beside what appeared to be a farm roadside drain that was running a modest pace with run-off, excitedly expounding the dangers of flood water.

  18. David N February 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    Thank God, I’m not the only one! I too have been wondering just what on earth is going on with cyclone category data and why it never seems to correlate with observation data. Was wondering if I was missing something about how observations were made or how categories were determined.

    With TC Marcia, one ABC report I saw stated as follows:

    “Communities in central Queensland have been battered by category five Cyclone Marcia, with winds gusting close to 300 kilometres per hour.” You have got to be kidding me!

    To me, this seems to have become more of the case over the past 5-10 years however this is just a generalised observation on my part. What would be really useful would be a tabulation of the data for cyclones over the past say 10 years. You could compare Max (Media) Reported Speed, Max BOM Estimated speed, Max Observed Speed and from that, the comparison of Reported, Estimated and Actual cyclone category. Has such a comparison already been made?

    As an engineer with experience in local government and having been on numerous disaster management committees, what I have noticed is that the hype is infectious and results in poor or impractical cyclone planning and preparation. I recall one instance where a supposedly Cat 2 cyclone was headed toward the community and at a 3am disaster committee meeting there was talk of evacuations. When I pointed out that the observational data was showing maximum gusts of 35 knots from a weather station in the eye path some reason prevailed.

    My question however is what to do about this hyperbole? I intend to write to BOM asking questions and seeking some explanation. Any other suggestions for possible action?

    I understand fully that complacency is not what is needed but as a previous poster pointed out, a false sense of security from over reporting is potentially far more dangerous in my opinion.

    Thanks for the voice of reason. Have never seen your site before but will keep an eye on it now.

  19. cementafriend February 21, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Left comments at other blogs eg WUWT & JoNova that this was hyped up and the public might start thinking that BOM is crying “wolf” which could be a problem if a really serious situation should arise. From my look at TV and photos it appears that mainly old and poorly designed and built houses were affected. The same applied with Yasi.

    However, much of the hype is associated with the new unqualified and inexperienced government. The new premier hoped she could emulate Anna Bligh’s performance with the 2011 floods. but then Anna Bligh lost the election because of incompetence.

    For your information Jen, we had at my place 155.5 mm rain in the gauge 8.30AM Friday morning and 211.7 mm this Saturday morning. I saw local flooding Friday afternoon and managed to get through Caboolture on the Bruce Hwy about 20 minutes before Police closed the north section for a short time.. I saw few cars off the road in deep water. It has been raining all day but fairly lightly. No sign of the remnants of Marcia yet.

  20. Lance Murray February 21, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    If you follow the track and watch the recordings on the weather equipment as it passes over or beside any of them you would notice that the highest wind speed was recorded at Percy Island of 100 knots, before that at Creel reef of 60 knots, then at yeppoon of 60 knots. At it’s widest TC Marcia was about 80 klm across, TC Yasi, a real cat 5 storm, was a few hundred klm wide and blew the wind gauges away on Willis Island at 120 mph a good day before landfall at Cardwell. I think the reporting system is much better now than before but lately it seems that to exagerate for the worst is better than factual reporting, maybe it’s to deal with complacency I don’t know but hey they were pretty close with the predicted track and thats what I think is the important bit ..

  21. Jonathan February 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    Pretty sure that people like my family who went through it would tell you it felt like a category 6! hahaha

  22. Jane February 21, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    They are going to kill people if they keep doing this. Yasi was the same, it was such a long front it was dissipating before it hit the coast. We all saw the pics of people out enjoying the wind and waves while they were beating Marcia up as a 5 – what is the death toll going to be when a 5 actually comes along?
    The other option is to introduce the study of weather systems and interpeting weather maps into the school curriculum so people can find the truth for themselves.

  23. Stephen T February 21, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

    I am an engineer, however when severe weather events are predicted, I become a very amatuer meteorologist and avoid the media hype but go to the BOM site for raw data of actual observations. It was quite apparent as Jennifer has pointed out that from measured wind speeds and atmospheric pressure, TC Marcia was only Category 3 before landfall and soon reduced to Category 2 while passing over Rockhampton. This is backed up by the relatively minor damage that occurred.
    Years ago, the cyclone warnings gave details of central pressure; you knew if it dropped below 950 millibars (showing my age), it was quite serious. Now it seems to be a race between media and BOM to get them to Category 5, which seems to be at around 970 hpa in this case. There seems to be a fairly distinct correlation between central pressure and wind speed, although I am sure that there are other significant factors (such as ground speed of the system) in assessing the destructive potential of a cyclone.
    Thanks Jennifer for your well founded skepticism and to others for their support. it has given me a prod to follow it up with BOM. I recall first time I came across Jennifer blog was during the Brisbane River (SEQWater) flooding fiasco which is yet to end up as a class action in court. The Australian investigative reporter Hedly Thomas will be rightly vindicated.

  24. Ric Werme February 22, 2015 at 12:06 am #

    Our US National Hurricane Center folks use Dvorak data for hurricanes well out to sea. It’s good input to the forecast models.

    When the storms are in reach of the hurricane hunter airplanes, they use a combination of dropsondes, flight level winds and visual observation of the sea surface to determine the ground level wind speed, as it’s much more accurate than the Dvorak numbers.

    However, nothing beats an anemometer on the ground in the eyewall to come up with the “right” wind speed. Barometers, storm surge and damage patterns help.

  25. Albert February 22, 2015 at 5:24 am #

    Thanks for your story Dr Marohasy. I’ve studied Meteorology some decades ago and I searched for the evidence of a Cat 5 but I could only justify a Cat 2, momentarily a Cat 3.
    Marcia did not howl like a Cat 4 nor Cat 5 and people were filmed surfing as it crossed the coast.
    A Cat 2 will do the same damage to flimsy structures that had no evidence of cyclone strapping and cyclone rods. One of the damaged trees had termites through it, a fallen pine was further inshore than pines that are still standing. I suspect the fallen pine had regular watering which keeps the roots near the surface and they are the first to fall in high winds
    To compare YASI to Marcia is farcical, YASI was 600km wide and Marcia a mere 70km wide. YASI is the biggest I have ever seen in Qld and the radar satellite pictures were frightening. Yasi did billions of $ damage
    Most of the rain in Brisbane was from the strong monsoon and the weakening Marcia pushed the monsoon into NSW http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-198.96,-30.43,3000

  26. Graeme M February 22, 2015 at 6:18 am #

    It’s worth reading the thread at Weatherzone. I am not at all familiar with meteorology details, but what I gather from that thread is that Marcia, a small system, came in at Cat 2 but stalled at somewhere called Creals Reef. At that point it gained energy and intensified significantly. The feeling I got was to at least Cat 4 and that modelling was showing Cat 5. It then tracked more southerly and on crossing the coast weakened substantially. I think they are saying that this was due to the geography and Marcia’s small size. I gather it was about Cat 3 at yeppoon and Cat 2 or less by Rocky. Generally BOM was pretty good with both modelling and forecasting but the media sensationalised it out of all proportion.

    I have no idea if that’s all accurate, it’s just my take of well over 100 pages of discussion. the last 10 pages give the most pertinent detail to this matter of Category.

    http://forum.weatherzone.com.au/ubbthreads.php/topics/1307826/107/Severe_Tropical_Cyclone_Marcia

  27. Graeme M February 22, 2015 at 6:43 am #

    The last post in the tech thread at weatherzone is as nice a summary as I’ve seen, have a read:

    http://forum.weatherzone.com.au/ubbthreads.php/topics/1309362/2/Severe_Tropical_Cyclone_Marcia

  28. Keith J February 22, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    This message from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center might be of interest: http://www.usno.navy.mil/NOOC/nmfc-ph/RSS/jtwc/warnings/sh1315web.txt

    ****
    Jen writes at 12 noon Australian EST… The above link is no longer working. Keith J saved the relevant information which is now pasted below FYI…

    WTPS32 PGTW 192100

    MSGID/GENADMIN/JOINT TYPHOON WRNCEN PEARL HARBOR HI//
    SUBJ/TROPICAL CYCLONE 13P (MARCIA) WARNING NR 005//
    RMKS/
    1. TROPICAL CYCLONE 13P (MARCIA) WARNING NR 005
    01 ACTIVE TROPICAL CYCLONE IN SOUTHPAC
    MAX SUSTAINED WINDS BASED ON ONE-MINUTE AVERAGE
    WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY

    WARNING POSITION:
    191800Z — NEAR 21.7S 150.5E
    MOVEMENT PAST SIX HOURS – 185 DEGREES AT 09 KTS
    POSITION ACCURATE TO WITHIN 020 NM
    POSITION BASED ON EYE FIXED BY SATELLITE
    PRESENT WIND DISTRIBUTION:
    MAX SUSTAINED WINDS – 110 KT, GUSTS 135 KT
    WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
    RADIUS OF 064 KT WINDS – 020 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
    020 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
    020 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
    020 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
    RADIUS OF 050 KT WINDS – 040 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
    040 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
    050 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
    050 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
    RADIUS OF 034 KT WINDS – 070 NM NORTHEAST QUADRANT
    065 NM SOUTHEAST QUADRANT
    070 NM SOUTHWEST QUADRANT
    070 NM NORTHWEST QUADRANT
    REPEAT POSIT: 21.7S 150.5E

    FORECASTS:
    12 HRS, VALID AT:
    200600Z — 23.5S 150.6E
    MAX SUSTAINED WINDS – 100 KT, GUSTS 125 KT
    WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
    DISSIPATING AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER LAND
    VECTOR TO 24 HR POSIT: 155 DEG/ 09 KTS

    24 HRS, VALID AT:
    201800Z — 25.1S 151.4E
    MAX SUSTAINED WINDS – 070 KT, GUSTS 085 KT
    WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
    DISSIPATING AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER LAND
    VECTOR TO 36 HR POSIT: 135 DEG/ 08 KTS

    36 HRS, VALID AT:
    210600Z — 26.3S 152.7E
    MAX SUSTAINED WINDS – 050 KT, GUSTS 065 KT
    WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
    DISSIPATING AS A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER LAND
    VECTOR TO 48 HR POSIT: 135 DEG/ 08 KTS

    EXTENDED OUTLOOK:
    48 HRS, VALID AT:
    211800Z — 27.4S 154.0E
    MAX SUSTAINED WINDS – 035 KT, GUSTS 045 KT
    WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
    BECOMING SUBTROPICAL
    VECTOR TO 72 HR POSIT: 110 DEG/ 04 KTS

    72 HRS, VALID AT:
    221800Z — 27.9S 155.6E
    MAX SUSTAINED WINDS – 035 KT, GUSTS 045 KT
    WIND RADII VALID OVER OPEN WATER ONLY
    SUBTROPICAL

    REMARKS:
    192100Z POSITION NEAR 22.1S 150.5E.
    TROPICAL CYCLONE 13P (MARCIA), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 379 NM
    NORTH-NORTHWEST OF BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, HAS TRACKED SOUTHWARD AT
    09 KNOTS OVER THE PAST SIX HOURS. ANIMATED INFRARED SATELLITE
    IMAGERY SHOWS THAT TC 13P HAS A VERY WELL DEFINED 18NM EYE FEATURE.
    THIS IS REINFORCED BY THE MACKAY RADAR LOOP AND THUS THE POSITION IS PLACED WITH HIGH CONFIDENCE. THE INTENSITY OF 110 KNOTS IS ASSESSED SLIGHTLY LOWER THAN DVORAK ESTIMATES BASED ON SURFACE OBSERVATIONS FROM MIDDLE PERCY ISLAND. UPPER LEVEL ENVIRONMENT CONTINUES TO DEPICT A FAIRLY FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT WITH LOW VERTICAL WIND SHEAR AND VERY GOOD POLEWARD OUTFLOW. THE SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY TRACKING ON THE WESTERN PERIPHERY OF A SUBTROPICAL RIDGE (STR) TO THE WEST. EXPECT TC MARCIA TO CONTINUE TO THE SOUTH AND ROUND THE STR AXIS OVER LAND BY TAU 12. EXPECT SOME DISSIPATION OF THE SYSTEM AS TC 13P TRACKS ALONG THE EASTERN COAST OVER THE AURBURN RANGE THROUGH TAU 36. HOWEVER, THERE IS SOME UNCERTAINTY ASSOCIATED WITH HOW CLOSE TO THE COAST THE SYSTEM WILL TRACK, WHICH HAS THE POTENTIAL TO LIMIT THE DECAY OF THE SYSTEM. AS THE SYSTEM TRACKS BACK INTO THE CORAL SEA, EXPECT LOWER SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES AND MODERATE VERTICAL WIND SHEAR TO SLIGHTLY DISSIPATE THE SYSTEM OVER THE WATER. THERE IS LIMITED CONFIDENCE IN THE FORECAST TRACK AS DYNAMIC MODEL GUIDANCE IN THE EXTENDED FORECAST IS FAIRLY WELL SPREAD BASED ON HOW EACH MODEL EVOLVES THE STEERING STR. AS SUCH, IT IS POSSIBLE THAT IF THE SYSTEM TRACKS TO THE NORTH BEYOND TAU 48, IT MAY ACTUALLY SLIGHTLY RE-INTENSIFY AS A TROPICAL SYSTEM NORTH OF BRISBANE. FINALLY, AS THE SYSTEM TRACKS THROUGH SOUTHEASTERN QUEENSLAND, THERE IS AN ALTERNATE SCENARIO THAT THE SYSTEM WILL BECOME SUBTROPICAL AS IT REEMERGES OVER THE WATER DUE TO TEMPERATURE ADVECTION AND THE ORIENTATION OF THE SYSTEM DIRECTLY BELOW THE UPPER-LEVEL SUBTROPICAL WESTERLIES. THE JTWC TRACK IS LAID CLOSE TO THE MULTI-MODEL CONSENSUS WITH OVERALL LOW CONFIDENCE. MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT AT 191800Z IS 25 FEET. NEXT WARNINGS AT 200900Z AND 202100Z.//
    NNNN

  29. Leo G February 22, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    It’s as if Marcia instantaneously transformed to a Cat 5 immediately before landfall and transformed instantly from a Cat 5 to Cat 3 or below (without passing through Cat 4) at landform.
    The James Cookk Uni Cyclone Testing Station Preliminary Damage Assessment Report for Cyclone Marcia:-
    https://www.jcu.edu.au/cts/
    “The James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station team, in collaboration with a team from the University of Florida, have compiled a rapid media and wind speed data assessment for the impact of Tropical Cyclone Marcia on the Rockhampton and Yeppoon communities. To read the report, click on the link in the article below. Following this initial work, the CTS team has now arrived in Rockhampton to commence a full damage investigation, to review wind speeds and building performance during Tropical Cyclone Marcia.”

  30. Martin Clark February 22, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    JCU CTS were quick off the mark.

    http://tinyurl.com/lpjt6sm

    I noted the comment:

    “A community that receives an over-represented wind speed report may have potential for complacency in preparation or building standards in the future.”

    Or as others have put it: “Oh no – people are going to think they have been through a big one and it didn’t amount to much …”

  31. pat February 22, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    we “know” because the Space Science and Engineering Centre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US told us so!

    video of Nott below makes the claim that there will be fewer but more intense cyclones:

    20 Feb: SMH: Peter Hannam: Cyclone Marcia: How storm took forecasters by surprise
    VIDEO 2 mins Cyclone Marcia: the science behind storm
    Extreme natural events expert Prof. Jonathan Nott (Geoscience expert at James Cook Uni) explains what is normal and what is unusual about the ferocious weather lashing Australia’s north east.

    Cyclone Marcia is one super storm that caught Bureau of Meteorology forecasters by surprise.
    Up until about mid-afternoon on Thursday, meteorologists were watching the storm tracking at category 1 strength, with sustained winds of just over 100km/h.
    Then, about 4pm, forecasters watched as the cyclone started to slow and its projected intensity soared.
    ***According to data compiled by the Space Science and Engineering Centre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, the projected wind speed for Marcia jumped to as much as 230km/h, well into the category 5 range.
    The bureau estimates the storm crossed the coast at category 5 strength on Friday morning…
    Kevin Walsh, a tropical cyclone expert at the University of Melbourne, said it was a slowdown in Marcia’s march towards the coastline that triggered the rise in intensity…
    In Marcia’s case, favourable upper air conditions allowed the storm to speed up its rotation, drawing up more air “like smoke rising in a smokestack”, one meteorologist said…
    Rob Webb, regional director of the bureau in Queensland, said the rate of Marcia’s strengthening was “remarkable” but added “it’s too early to pinpoint exactly why”…
    Sea-surface temperatures off eastern Australia have been unusually warm, particularly off the NSW coast, with temperatures as much 2-3 degrees above average, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    Such rapid jumps in intensity have been observed elsewhere, such as in the north-west Pacific, Professor Walsh said.
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/cyclone-marcia-how-storm-took-forecasters-by-surprise-20150220-13k57v.html

  32. toorightmate February 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Good to have you back Jennifer – you have been missed.
    It’s not much fun for the CQ folk at present with no power, hot weather and stacks to be cleaned up.
    The true cost to business, government and the people is substantial.
    Lucky it was not a strong cyclone. If it had been, most of the trees would be down, rather than a minority.

  33. pat February 22, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    “grazed” in the two articles below seems more like an excuse for why no Cat 5 landed anywhere but the sparsely populated Shoalwater Bay, owned by the Australian Defence Force. In 2005 the federal government entered into a long-term agreement with the US over the use of Shoalwater Bay for military training purposes (Wikipedia). given Uni of Wisconsin-Madison in the US declared Marcia a Cat 5, who knows what it actually was when it made landfall there? very convenient.

    21 Feb: The Australian: Cyclone Marcia, Cyclone Lam hit Queensland, NT: live updates
    The gale-force winds and torrential rain ensured it was terrifying but in the end many were counting their lucky stars Marcia crossed the coast at the largely uninhabited Shoalwater Bay before gradually losing intensity.
    “It’s just a big plot of land essentially with not much there,” Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jess Carey told AAP.
    Marcia was a category four storm when it “grazed” Yeppoon on Friday morning but was downgraded to category three about 1pm as it hit Rockhampton…
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/cyclone-marcia-cyclone-lam-hit-queensland-nt-live-updates/story-e6frg6nf-1227227798977

    today’s Gold Coast Bulletin story – “Cyclone Marcia: Gold Coast to cop a drenching as Marcia moves into south east Queensland” – begins with:

    UPDATE: EX-tropical cyclone Marcia has moved out to sea, sparing the Gold Coast from predicted heavy rainfall:

    21 Feb: Channel 9: ‘Destructive winds’ set to batter Gold Coast as former cyclone Marcia moves south
    Gold Coast residents are bracing for severe thunderstorms and destructive winds as the fallout from ex-tropical Cyclone Marcia continues…
    Yeppoon did not feel the full force of the system, then a category 5, as the storm only “grazed” the town, Ms Palaszczuk said…
    ***The Insurance Council of Australia has now declared the cyclone a “catastrophe” meaning all cyclone-related claims will be expedited…
    http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/02/19/12/40/tropical-cyclone-marcia-upgraded-to-category-two-as-queensland-braces-for-wild-weather

    it’s been fine all day, with five minutes of fine drizzle mid-morning, where i am, halfway between brisbane and gold coast, and i don’t think it’s rained in brisbane either. surely Marcia didn’t affect SW Qld. can anyone provide date to show it did?

  34. pat February 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    22 Feb: Brisbane Times: Cameron Atfield: Cyclone Marcia: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backs Bureau of Meteorology after Marcia surprise
    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended the Bureau of Meteorolgy’s forecasting after the rapid escalation of Tropical Cyclone Marcia caught most by surprise.
    ***TC Marcia had been forecast to be a Category 1 or 2 as it approached the Queensland coast but quickly gained power and was a Category 5 – the most powerful classification – when it crossed the coast near Shoalwater Bay…
    “This is something that they have never seen before as well, going from a low pressure system to a (Category) 1 all the way up to a 5,” she said in Yeppoon on Saturday afternoon.
    “They’d never seen this in their lifetime, so this was a rare event.
    “Now, they’re going to go back and look through all the research and try to work out how that happened so quickly…
    ***Localised flooding was reported across south-east Queensland, but Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the city was fortunate to have missed out on the forecast 120km/h winds…
    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/cyclone-marcia-premier-annastacia-palaszczuk-backs-bureau-of-meteorology-after-marcia-surprise-20150221-13l730.html

    no wind or rain in SE Qld today and localised flooding is from the completely separate Tropical Low system.

  35. pat February 22, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    bearing in mind it was data compiled by the Space Science and Engineering Centre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US that claimed Cat 5 status for TC Marcia, (see link relating to this in earlier comment):

    Uni of Wisconsin-Madison: Space Science & Engineering Centre – About Us
    (scroll down) Associated Organizations
    (LINK)National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NOAA Satellite & Information Service, NESDIS)
    http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/overview/

    20 Feb: Eureka Alert: NASA-JAXA’s TRMM satellite sees rapid intensification of category-5 Marcia
    NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
    At 11 p.m. local time (1324 UTC) on Feb. 19, 2015, the Precipitation Radar on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite observed the eyewall of Tropical Cyclone Maria in the Coral Sea. At that time, Marcia was rapidly intensifying to category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, a little more than 12 hours before an expected landfall in Queensland, Australia.
    The TRMM satellite is managed by both NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency…
    In this case, the heavy precipitation (the red volume of the image) near the ocean surface is the powerful base of a hot tower in the southwest quadrant of the eyewall.
    A “hot tower” is a rain cloud that reaches at least to the top of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere. It extends approximately nine miles (14.5 km) high in the tropics. These towers are called “hot” because they rise to such altitude due to the large amount of latent heat. Water vapor releases this latent heat as it condenses into liquid. NASA research found that a tropical cyclone with a hot tower in its eyewall was twice as likely to intensify within the next six hours, than a cyclone that lacked a tower…READ ALL
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-02/nsfc-nts022015.php

  36. Scott February 22, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    Sky News ran the same imagery over and over with the hype and shrill of a South American soccer fan. Good old Phil Wilmington said “This is what 375kmh winds from a category 5 monster look like..” yet in Yepoon the local authorities said they received wind speeds up to 115kmh and in Rockhampton speeds reached 110kmh. The latter is more believable given the only damage was older homes that weren’t built to modem wind speed requirements and vegetation.

    The impending doom of this cataclysmic beast from hell had the average person believing Sodom and Gomorrah were only a minor event to what we were to face. I live on the Gold Coast and I’m still waiting for the cyclone that never was.

  37. Keith J February 22, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    Regarding the Saffir-Simpson scale mentioned in the University of Wisconsin-Madison report above, it is the inappropriate scale to measure Marcia as it is the northern Pacific and Atlantic standard, not the Australia-Fiji one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclone_scales

    Why is that important? The minimum sustained wind speed for a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson is 137 knots while it is 107 knots on the Australia-Fiji one. A 20 knot or 22% difference.

    Given the observations quoted in the JTWC message above the max sustained speed of Marcia was 110 knots, which makes it a 3 on the Saffir-Simpson. Not a 5.

    The question then is why a supposedly reputable and authoritative source used the wrong scale in their reporting as well as misreporting the Category achieved on that scale? Either they don’t know what they are talking about, in which case their authority is nil, or they know exactly what they were doing and why.

    Another question of course is why the Australia-Fiji scale uses such low and unsuitable thresholds for their categories. If everything is going to be a Cat 5 what happens when a REAL killer storm, like a 22% stronger Saffir-Simpson 5, comes along?

    Given the degree to which the University of Wisconsin-Madison, NOAA, and unfortunately even NASA have been comprised regarding Global Warming/Climate Change I would treat anything they say with the same reverence I would University of East Anglia reporting.

    When politics and funding considerations are allowed to pollute science it becomes propaganda.

  38. Tammi February 22, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    Well as a local who just experienced first hand the above mentioned cyclone, I don’t care what category the storm was classed as ~ I can guarantee it was not a piece of cake. Who cares if the rating was not completely correct?! A very good friend of mine has had her roof completely blown away and has lost pretty much everything inside. Do you think she cares what the rating was, or any of the other people who have experienced house destruction?!!

  39. Keith J February 23, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    I am not downplaying the shock and physical damage done by Marcia, far from it. I’m trying to explain that had it been a true Saffir-Simpson Cat 5 your friend might not be alive to pick up the pieces, The danger of hyper-inflating the classification of storms is that the ratings lose their significance and become useless as tools to guide our choices of preparatory actions.

    If ones perception of a real Cat 5 storm approaching is based on having sat through a previous Cat 2 or 3 which they were told was a Cat 5 they have a very rude awakening coming.

    The “do I stay or go” choice is the single most important one we will make prior to a cyclone and not having an accurate means of estimating the effects of an approaching storm will unquestionably lead to some really poor, and possibly deadly decisions when a real killer storm comes.

    Those Category ratings are supposed to help us make safe choices. Their deceptive hyper-inflation for whatever reason is unconscionable and make them meaningless and dangerous. Not to mention them often being propaganda at tax payer expense.

  40. Jennifer Marohasy February 23, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Graham Young has just published an article by me based on this thread. Thanks everyone for your input, and especially to Harry Martin for getting me started… http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=17109

  41. GrumpoldB February 23, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    I currently live north-west of Rocky, just up off the river. Houses and sheds in this area, that survived David and other blows have been unroofed – many trees, large and small over roads & fences. Some localised flooding and damage.
    I doubt anyone has bothered checking rural areas as all attention focusses on Rocky and Yeppoon, then Jambin, Bilo, etc. (same as when floods are on – we don’t exist – but that doesn’t particularly worry me – just an observation.)
    Perhaps the Berserker & Byfield & other coastal ranges protected Rocky to some extent and mitigated the effects for both Rocky and Yeppoon? But not so much for structures built on the faces of those ranges, perhaps?
    Had been through a few blows at Woodbury for the 20 years from the early 80s, so have seen a couple – didn’t think Marcia was too bad, although wasn’t quite game to wander outside amongst the flying debris to measure wind speeds by hand.
    Bit of a mess, but also thankful it was of such short duration.
    Ex BOM:
    Creal Reef, at 20:00 on 19 Feb was apparently showing wind speed of 139 km/h (75 kts) with gust to 176 km/h (95 kts), hPa of 979.2.
    C Temp of -1.1.
    Low Temp of -49.3 @ 19:39.
    Large iceberg drifted up from down south, plus wind-chill factor (sarc.)
    I think BOM were adding a further 100 km/h to recorded wind speeds, in their press releases.
    As always, Jen – give ’em some!

    As an aside, Grumpy should perhaps be changed to Senile – forgot to stock up on extra fuel for the generators as the cloud cover I was seeing led me down the garden path…
    GrumpyoldB.

  42. GrumpoldB February 23, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    I also wondered if Marcia crossed to the west of the Polygon Range in SWBTA or if that range had an influence upon wind speeds and/or dissipation of some of the cyclonic effects.
    Would that range have had any discernible effect, depending upon where the eye was – relative to that range?
    Dumb question, I know – but hopefully a reader may be able to provide an answer?
    GrumpyoldB.

  43. spangled drongo February 23, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    Jen, I just heard you on ABC radio with Steve Austin and you made your point very well.

    I also sent Steve an email last night comparing Marcia Cat 5 with Tracy cat 4 where Darwin was reduced to rubble and litter and 66 people killed yet Yeppoon suffered relatively little.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/17/Cyclone_tracy_aerial_view_darwin.jpg

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-01/cyclone-tracy-before-and-after/5907246

  44. bobbavet February 23, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    IS there a podcast available of the Steve Austin interview?

  45. Ben February 23, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    It would seem this thread confuses prediction, warnings of the worst case scenario and hindsight when all the relevant data at hand. The author’s article is also rich in hyperbole and rhetoric and seems to attempt to create emotional controversy when thoughtful analysis is actually required

  46. bobbavet February 23, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    I hope someone has screen shots because all the actual data has been removed from the BOM.

  47. Graeme M February 23, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    For myself Ben, after thoroughly reading the weatherzone forums, it seems that the storm did intensify suddenly and unexpectedly. Whether it was quite cat 5 or not, I can understand warnings for a worst case being reasonable.

    However, hindsight now shows it to have been around cat 3 at Yeppoon and cat 2 or even 1 at Rocky. The landscape also contributed to variable effects. In addition, its strongest winds seem to have been to the east.

    And there is no doubt that from BOMs own obs data, there was never a gust over 208km/hr.

    What would be fair is for BOM to issue a correction so that people could know the facts. I don’t find great fault with BOM’s warnings, but the fact that they leave it out there that this was a Cat 5 all the way through to Rocky is misleading. I just heard an ABC report talking about cat 5 in the same sentence as Yeppoon.

  48. Graeme M February 23, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    oops… last para should read

    What would be fair is for BOM to issue a correction so that people could know the facts. I don’t find great fault with BOM’s warnings, but the fact that they leave it out there that this was not a Cat 5 all the way through to Rocky is misleading. I just heard an ABC report talking about cat 5 in the same sentence as Yeppoon.

  49. Jeff Higgins February 23, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,
    To Answer your question directly RE TC Marcia Cat5… ” We will never know exactly ” though it is possible that some educated estimates may be found along the remote coastline precisely where Marcia crossed. I found many parts of your analysis poorly constructed from non facts this being very misleading towards the public.
    We at Higgins Storm Chasing stand with and agree with BOM, JTWC and 28storms on a Cat 5 forecast system prior to and first landfall followed by rapidly weakening soon after.

    The following official observations were recorded.
    Middle Percy Island ( 15km outside inner eye wall, 25km outside centre eye )
    208kmhr gust
    156 sustained winds
    970mb pressure

    Samuel hill ( 5km outside inner eye wall, 15km outside centre eye )
    170kmhr gust
    95kmhr sustained
    977mb pressure

    Yeppoon ( 30 km from inner eye wall, 35km from centre eye )
    156kmhr gust
    135kmhr sustained
    Pressure unknown

    Rockhampton ( closed eye passed directly overhead @ 1:30pm )
    113kmhr gust
    82km hr sustained
    975mb pressure

    Rainfall
    Samuel Hill 181mm in 24hrs
    South Yaamba North of Rockhampton 172mm in 1hr at TC crossing.
    Callide Dam 198mm in 24hr, Kroombit Tops 251mm in 24hrs.

    Land impact Cat 5 occurred at 7am 20/2/15 weakened rapid to a Cat 2 with closed eyewall at 1pm six hrs after land impact.
    TC Marcia was over land for 5.5hrs prior to Yeppoon and Rockhampton impacts.
    Please note some data has been removed from public access on some locations, however HSC saved the data to file.
    We note the significant ranges and dense forest TC Marcia encountered immediately on land, also that Samuel Hill and Byfield were largely protected due to the above factors.
    FACTS:
    TC Marcia did NOT cross directly over Middle Percy AWS and these observations that were recorded are consistent given the distance away from the Cat 5 eyewall.
    A cyclones strongest winds are felt within 25km of the centre eye axis which rapidly weakens outside of this area.
    A cyclones strongest winds are also normally observed on the Eastern and Southern quadrants.
    Cyclones undergo a rapid weakening upon land interaction and crossing the coast due to their primary fuel source ( warm ocean water ) being severed.
    TC Marcia was never forecast to impact Yeppoon nor Rockhampton as a Cat 5 system. The pressures and wind speeds recorded at both the above locations are consistent with a Cat 2 system factoring in the exceptions of a Cat 5 system on coastal crossing reducing to a Cat 2 system over land for 5.5hrs are normal. The technical information of cyclone ratings in Australia clearly states “wind gusts over flat land”… The typography where TC Marcia crossed the coast and travelled further inland consists of Hills, Mountains, Ranges and dense forest which greatly reduce surface wind recordings and or shelters structures.

    We believe the BOM, Media outlets including Higgins Storm Chasing classified, forecast, acted and reacted accordingly to Official, Satellite and computer model data for TC Marcia a VERY DESTRUCTIVE Cat 5 system with winds to 295km hr at land impact to be accurate. Under no circumstances do I believe the public to have been misinformed, with information provided the the best of everyone’s ability.
    The following links consist of 2 x radar loops of TC Marcia and an analysis video from 28storms.com

    http://www.theweatherchaser.com/radar-loop/IDR222-mackay/2015-02-19-15/2015-02-20-03

    http://www.theweatherchaser.com/radar-loop/IDR232-gladstone/2015-02-19-20/2015-02-20-04

    http://youtu.be/0WLfC0F66M8

    Jeff Higgins

  50. bobbavet February 23, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    The James Cook report is a farce. It starts from the “media” reports of Cat5 (no data) landfall onwards. No mention of the proceeding Middle Perry Island data.

  51. RaisingAlice February 23, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    Fair chomp of the chop Jen!, Pre cyclone hitting anywhere, does it really matter what Category the science boff’s class it as?

    Any storm that has over Cyclone 1 rating should be treated as Cat 5! Maybe the boffs should we just change the ratings to storms, Heavy storms, Devastating storms.

    Yes of course the media hyped things, but that may well of been a contributing factor to no deaths and that is what matters!

    Yes, there is a problem if people think “well that was a Cat 5 and it wasn’t too bad”, but you wrote this on the night that it was passing or just passed over Rocky! Fair dinkum! From Noosa? *sighs*

    The people that are now suffering no power, no water, no phones do not care what Category it was, they just want to know that someone cares and are helping them try to keep their newborn children cool, that their aged and frail parents are alright and surviving the 36+C & 75% humidity conditions with no fans, airconditioner, or even cold water.

  52. Arnost February 23, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    I have been looking for high resolution satellite imagery of Townshend Island from today. [First clear day]

    Jen, if you can get access to sub 10m resolution images from today and from (anytime in) the past – a determination of the damage there can be done…

    Magic Marcia passed directly over Townshend island – and given it was a compact system – before it had time to degrade. If it was a Cat 5 at the time, there won’t be a tree standing [See what Tracy did!]. If it was a Cat 3 on the other hand… there will be only a few trees down and the damage will be mostly defoliage.

    The best I can find [but can’t find the provenance or date of is this from Accuweather Satellite.}

    http://i62.tinypic.com/s49nc1.jpg

    If the above is a pic from today – then this is ambiguous. The brown patches suggest at least defoliage. The green suggests minimal damage. That why you need the high res satellite.

    Otherwise – whilst this area is on the boundary of the military exclusion zone – I’m surprised that no news crew hired a plane or a copter to overfly! Telephoto shots of the (presumed) damage would make a real counter to posts like this. That there hasn’t been such a counter at this point in time is telling!

    cheers

    Arnost

  53. Me February 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    Well i’m in brisbane and i can tell you now that we got more than 150mm, it was about 285mm and that was in one day only!

  54. Glenda McDonald February 23, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    I live in North Lakes, and contrary to what John Sayers has said, we received 368 mm. Why do I know, because I have a rain gauge.

  55. John Dee February 23, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    Jennifer M: You need to run hard with this story.
    On a number of occasions I have written to several media organisations and identities …and the BOM…questioning the hype and enclosing highlighted live data from the BOM’s own website which directly contradicts the alarmist nonsense fed to the public.
    (Crickets chirping)
    Not a single reply.
    I wrote to mostly the same people re Cyclone Yasi which was also never a Category 5.
    Hurricane Katrina was a USA Cat 4 and the devastation in its wake was extreme.
    Peak wind was 140 mph = 225 kph.
    This raises another very annoying point: Why is the Aust criteria different to the USA ?
    People read of overseas hurricanes , typhoon , cyclones and make comparisons but arrive at incorrect conclusions.
    Cyclone Marcia was potentially more damaging than Hurricane Katrina ?
    Aaaaarrrggghhh !

  56. Arnost February 24, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    I have also asked at Weatherzone where the energy to spin up Marcia by 40 knots in an hour came from. Ken is a really good guy – and I’m guessing he’ll come back with an answer ..

    http://t.co/IHw7mK4ffQ

    The above is where I found the graph. Whilst doing the math is beyond me these days – the energy required to do that is immense and beyond believable…

  57. Albert February 24, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Why did the BOM publish charts with TC Marcia centre of 922hpa (mb) when at the same time the American Satellite had Marcia with a centre of 1004 hpa ?
    ALL cyclones will cause some damage especially to frail buildings that have no evidence of cyclone rods or straps.
    Darwin’s TRACY was a CAT 4 and both 4&5 blow out windows of tall buildings and cause immense damage. Marcia seemed a CAT 2, momentarily a CAT 3, Marcia’s winds did not ”howl” like a CAT 4or5 and when you hear CAT 4&5 winds, you never forget them
    I could see from the US Satellite there was a strong Monsoon active for a whole week and the media seemed only interested in hyping up a cyclone. It was the Monsoon that brought most of the rain. Marcia pushed the Monsoon southwards and cleared the Brisnane sky in about 2 days
    The Callide dam operators who said the flooding from release of water was due to a ”1 in 10,000 year event” are lying to us, floods are likely to visit us about every 7-10 years

  58. Albert February 24, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    The Callide dam operators who said the flooding from release of water was due to a ”1 in 10,000 year event” are lying to us, floods are likely to visit us about every 7-10 years, they did not build a dam to fill in 10,000 years

  59. spangled drongo February 24, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Rob Webb from the BoM was telling us on the ABC how wrong Jennifer was in her criticisms but when it came to the crunch he couldn’t support his side of the story [Cat 5 claim] with any facts at all.

    His logic that because the instruments at Willis Is blew up during cyclone Yasi before they could register the true wind speed it somehow justified calling Marcia a Cat 5 when Middle Percy Island barely measured Cat 3 speeds with functioning instruments.

    All just as a precaution, apparently.

    The BoM obviously thinks it’s much more important to be the nanny than to be the scientist that we employ them for.

    There is a certain amount of logic in having the nanny attitude but they need to come out very loud and clear now that it is obvious that Marcia wasn’t a Cat 5 and tell everyone what they did it for and why.

    Otherwise, as with their CAGW hype, people just won’t believe them with future cyclones.

    Of course, we know they won’t for this very reason.

    It will reflect on their credibility.

  60. Mark February 24, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    I sit here shaking my head in disbelieve , you all think that you have been lied to and the media and BOM is to blame, well if you all can do a better job by all means ,,,, I were taught in school that a cyclone received it’s rating by its barometric pressure , IE a low pressure is a cyclone when it drops to below 995 hpa and has nothing to do with wind speed, cyclone marcia dropped to 926 hpa making it a cat 5 . I wish people would grow up and stop believing the lies spread , not by media , but by individual’s for their own gratification or gain

  61. Calem Smith February 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    My friend and were constructing this video on landfall. It was all very wrong from the get go. It was obvious even before landfall that things were not quite right.

    http://youtu.be/YcyRj6oyGLc

  62. spangled drongo February 24, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    “The following official observations were recorded.
    Middle Percy Island ( 15km outside inner eye wall, 25km outside centre eye )
    208kmhr gust
    156 sustained winds
    970mb pressure”

    Jeff Higgins, thanks for those links.

    I have been in the Coral Sea during a cyclone when the eye passed over and the wind and fury suddenly stopped, the sky was blue for a period and then the wind came from the opposite direction and hell broke loose again.

    The eye is NOT where the strongest winds are. In fact quite the reverse. There is a lull in the eye and the greatest wind strength is always outside the eye and it is my experience that the south west quadrant [which Middle Percy was in] is the most violent part of the cyclone.

    If Middle Percy didn’t record Cat 5 winds in that position then it proves conclusively that Marcia was not Cat 5.

  63. GrumpoldB February 24, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    I live approx 14 km WWSW of The Caves, on the western side of the river.
    Rainfall in the 10″ gauge revealed 66 mm before landfall (from southern rain band coming up the coast) and a further 113 mm after the cessation of hostilities.
    The South Yaamba AWS is roughly 2 km distant from my location.
    Interestingly, early on, the roaring of the wind down at the river was much, much louder than the noise here and I suspect that may have been the south western extent of the eye as it passed by.
    I might add that (from earlier posts above) that I also didn’t think to tape up our windows – partly because I didn’t “feel” that the cyclone was going to be as intense as was being advised (senility sneaking in again, I’m afraid – couldn’t get carried away with ‘experience’).
    We do get storms out here that can generate almost as much wind damage, albeit of much shorter duration, with much less gusting and without the change of wind direction that tends to cause so much havoc (and did!).
    I also note, after having had reason to travel around the local area (caring for aged relatives) and then today into Rocky for urgently needed fuel, that there almost appears to be destruction in ‘bands’ and is not noticeably uniform – areas that I expected should have trees damaged/down are almost untouched.
    Of course, topography must have some bearing upon that, but it is most noticeable where topography remains relatively unchanged.
    I suspect that damage in some rural areas may be greater than in Rocky itself – time will tell.
    Power will be some time coming back on-line I think, although the chopper was flying the lines earlier on, around Alton Downs/Ridgelands – but hasn’t made it this far north as yet.
    GrumpysenileoldB.

  64. Albert February 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Calem Smith above, your video link is excellent, it confirms what we all know. It would be dangerous and a travesty to put Marcia at the top of he list of Yasi Cat 4+, Larry Cat 4-5, Tracy Cat 4
    All of us know Cyclones cause damage and I can only see damage consistent with a Cat 2-3
    Remember Typhoon Hainan ? I watched it on satellite as is approached Tacloban City situated in a funnel shaped area where a tidal surge was going to cause a Tsunami and destroyed the lives of inhabitants living 2 feet above sea level. It was not as monstrous as they claimed, it was a stromg Typhoon in exactly the wrong spot

  65. Albert February 24, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    Please note, I do make some spelling errors

  66. Margi February 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    Hi Jennifer. I have a few questions for you. You don’t seem to believe that Marcia caused enough destruction and property damage to be a category 5 cyclone. Have you visited the town of Byfield since the cyclone hit? Have you seen the flattened pine forests? Have you asked the Byfield residents about their experiences? Your comments would be extremely hurtful and offensive to them I’m sure. I doubt you spoke to them in the first 3 days because they were stranded without phones, Internet or electricity and unable to leave their homes because the roads were covered with trees. Some of them have only just been able to leave today, four days later. I’m glad your Yeppoon home is still standing. I’m glad for you because I genuinely care about people. Are you still down south and experiencing all the comforts that come with having electricity and water available to you? I believe that instead of spending your time downplaying the effects of cyclone Marcia and belittling the problems people in Central Queensland are facing you could spend your energy helping those who have lost everything. Maybe you haven’t heard but some people have lost EVERYTHING. I am not as educated as you. I only have a bachelor degree so maybe I don’t understand the importance of your cause. From what I understand, you are basing your arguments on observations taken at weather stations nowhere near the eye of the cyclone- Middle Percy Island. For what purpose? Is it really so important to try and prove a point to draw attention to yourself at a time like this? Is it really necessary to stir people up when they’re at their lowest? These are the questions I have for you. Please answer them. I really believe you owe the people of Central Queensland an apology.

  67. Sara February 25, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    I think some of you need to drive through the area to see the exact extent of damage. There have been people who have lost their homes, over 350 are uninhabitable. New homes and old, whilst no lives have been lost yet, according to media, there are still plenty of people who have been injured (I work in local hospital). I don’t think you can compare to cyclone Tracey, as for one we have homes that are now legally required to be built to cyclone rating (a lot if newer homes in area), I am married to an engineer, but if you just google cyclone Tracey you see that Darwin was rebuilt using modern materials to withstand cyclones, so the houses that were destroyed cannot be compared to 2015. Whilst it might not of been Category 5 in some peoples eyes or sustained the same damage as other storms cyclones of the past I feel the respone of emergency crews and government was fantastic. Those who live in the area will never be complacent whether it be category 1,2,3,4 or 5 as what we just experienced was scary. I have close friends who have lost everything. The door knocking, evacuation messages that were sent and evacuating people at 2am was fantastic. If it had of been worse we would of been prepared and I feel that due to the so called ‘hype’ of the media that this actually saved lives. By the way the footage of people out etc it happens in every cyclone, my dad surfed in cyclone David and countless others as days before a cyclone hits the waves are great! I don’t know of anyone who was out during the worst bits of the cyclone. How could we be as there was trees and debri flying past!

  68. GrumpyoldB February 25, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Wasn’t sure whether I should post this comment – please don’t take offence, as none is intended.
    Comparison of Marcia with cyclones of different intensities in other localities is perhaps not the best approach – comparisons with past cyclones affecting the same geographical area may be a better starting point – apples with apples, you know.

    Dear Margi – you should have a yarn with people who have in Byfield for many, many years to ascertain what has occurred in the past.
    There are quite a number of reasons why such damage occurred in that area – those mountains are one of the main factors, as is the open sea to your east. The pine plantations are particularly susceptible to wind gust damage, I think you’ll find ( as with so much of the native timber in the area).

    I should add that I have been a volunteer in past events that helped cut & clear timber off Yeppoon-Byfield road, from Woodbury north towards Byfield (before cleaning up at my own property, I might add – and, for the record, no one offered me or others of those volunteers any assistance at any time – I never did work out whether it was because they thought we were more than capable or whether they thought only of themselves and as long as we had given them what they required all was well in their world) – and yes, it can be devastating to those people who haven’t been through such an event previously and I understand your distress.

    As with all things in life, you have to do trade-offs – in choice of place of habitation versus possible ramifications from natural events down to some of the simplest everyday decisions – we all have to, whether we realize it or not.

    It will be interesting to see whether Byfield has power restored before it comes back on line in my neck of the woods.

    Mark, did you really mean to type 926 hPa?

    Sara – sorry, but people do become complacent (not everyone, fortunately) – just part of being a human, I’m afraid. I’ve observed it time and time again, over many long years – and it can sometimes be heartbreaking. Heck, I’m guilty of just such an offence from time to time – and seems to get worse as I age.

    To the other posters – thanks – love to read all the different comments, whether valid or not – purely from my perspective, of course.

    I do think that, given the forecast track for Marcia, BoM could have given better warnings for coastal areas versus inland areas – surely prior experience would have told them that the topography would reduce the effects of the cyclone once it moved along the projected track?

    Another day in paradise and more cleaning up & repairs to do.

    GrumpyoldB.

  69. Margi February 25, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Most of the above comments have left me absolutely fuming!! I can just picture you all sitting in your airconditioning, with your laptops, iPhones etc writing all of those condescending remarks about the people of Central Queensland. It’s probably for the best that many of those affected by the cyclone have been unable to read what you have written and were unable to watch Jennifer’s appearance on the news last night. Why have they been unable to?? Because a lot of people are now experiencing day 5 with no electricity, Internet, tap water, flushing toilets, phone service and definitely no air conditioning!! The heat and humidity has been horrendous. Pregnant women have gone into premature labour, elderly people have suffered heat exhaustion and young children have developed diarrhoea and vomiting. People have lost their homes whether you want to believe it or not. But I suppose you just think we are all a bunch of whingers in central Queensland! We are just whinging about a bit of wind and rain. We just have some sort of victim mentality according to you guys. The truth is we are a strong and resilient bunch of people. We will clean up this mess. A lot if us have hardly slept over the past 5 days but we are pushing on. The emergency services, the army and the general public are doing an awesome job. Please don’t belittle our situation! Arguing over what category this cyclone was is not helping the people of CQ. Do you really think that we are stupid enough to not take a cyclone seriously in the future because we have survived a “category 5” cyclone already?? Well I find that offensive. There is a lot of work to be done to clean this mess up. It is going to take months. You could offer to help those less fortunate if you want- or you could choose to sit back in the air con with an icy cold drink and continue your intellectual debate. The facts are that Cyclone Marcia was a big enough cyclone to flatten the Byfield area and to cause a devastating amount of damage in Yepoon and Rockhampton. You can choose to ignore the facts if you want to. The people here did not have the luxury of tracking the cyclone on the Internet while it was happening. We weren’t able to watch the TV. We don’t care what number you want to put on it. Have a nice cold drink for us. Cheers.

  70. Margi February 25, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    I appreciate your comments GrumpyoldB. My father is in his 80s. He has lived in Queensland all of his life. He has owned his property at Byfield for over 50 years. He is a very well educated, retired biologist. When I called him on Friday morning, he was very sceptical that a cat 5 cyclone was about to hit. He has been through cyclones in the past. He now believes the cyclone was a cat 5 when it hit Byfield. Whatever number people want to put on it- it was a very destructive cyclone and the damage it has caused should not be trivialised.

  71. Albert February 25, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Premier said on TV ‘this is not like the 2011 severe weather event when the catchments were saturared with the wettest Dec on record’ yet after her briefing from the BOM on Jan 5, 2011 she allowed the Wivenhoe Dam to fill to a darngerous level and the raising of the Wivenhoe gates to 12 metres high in the night was not passed on to all who lived downstream, many woke in flooded houses in the night. Anastasia is so concerned about us but during the Dam flood in 2011 she gave us no warning of a tsunami flood equal to a breach of the Wivenhoe dam wall, she was silent as was Kate Jones and Premier Bligh

  72. Joy February 25, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    Thank goodness I found this Jennifer. I thought I was just being a sceptical former Central Queenslander. A long-term resident of Rockhampton and Yeppoon now living away, I was appalled at the hype surrounding this weather event. I have spent much time visiting many houses in a professional capacity and many of the buildings featured as examples of “complete and utter devastation” would have blown over in a good summer storm – older houses, cheap materials, poorly built for their locations and poorly maintained. A Category 5 would wipe many more of them off the map. Such dangerous hype – devastating, utterly, terrifying, completely, lost everything. Even the insane comparisons to Katrina (with its 1800 dead) and a warzone were spotted. Utter, complete rubbish! Thanks for the welcome dose of sanity, caution and questioning.

  73. Dave February 25, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Hey, why don’t you come up and clean up the mess? Or is that all hype too?

    How nicely intellectual of you to sit back and theorise how bad it really was. Yes it’s no longer on 24 hour news cycle. I’ve been 5 nights without power so far. Had 2 windows smashed, and wall section blown in, rain pour in through the broken widows soaking everything… who cares what the category number was? Have fun with your pointless debate.

  74. Thebigredman February 25, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    I think a fair few people are not getting the idea that most people are NOT claiming a category 5 cyclone had a direct hit on Yeppoon. In fact the iCyclone track is what most people would believe to be an accurate representation. https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t31.0-8/10960371_10152891048959597_8893321851777027716_o.png

    This does NOT show a cat 5 cyclone in Yeppoon NOR directly over Byfield township itself. It does however indicate that the eye wall passed to the East of Middle Percy Island and the 207k/hr gust is consistent with cat 5 given the distance from the AWS.

    It also indicates, as does the damage in the Byfield area to the North and West of the township, that a cat 5 was the most likely scenario in the area where it crossed.

  75. Steve February 25, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    I live just north of Rockhampton and I have no doubt it was a 4 when it got to us.

    Street signs (the thin steel type with the two street names panels) were uprooted from the wind alone.

    Also 5 nights without power – hoping for only another 3.

  76. Margi February 25, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    It is just so sad how heartless people can be. Joy- if it was your home, workplace or business that was destroyed I’m sure words such as “devestating, utterly terrifying and completely lost everything” would be going through your head too. When you say you’ve been visiting homes in a professional capacity, I wonder if you mean you’ve been helping the people with the clean-up. I’d like to think so. Do you think these people deserve to lose their homes because they haven’t been maintained properly.
    Here’s an idea- if you people are so interested in researching and comparing weather events why don’t you help people get through the aftermath of these events by helping with the clean-up and rebuilding. You could compare the damage and impact of different cyclones. You could stay in the community and experience what it is like afterwards.
    Is it really a good idea to try and destroy people’s trust in the BoM? Should we just ignore what the BoM have to say in the future because you are telling us they get it so wrong? I doubt that’s going to keep people safe.

  77. Owen Foley February 25, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    I was interested in the hype surrounding Marcia reporting, particularly the expected 3 metre storm surge that suddenly came out of nowhere. Three metres would be devastating and cat 5 cyclones can create a big storm surge. But while the predictions were climbing to 3 metres, anyone could look at a live readout of the storm tide gauge at Rosslyn Bay to see what was really happening.

    Not many did becauase it was plain to see that the tide was tracking only a little above the normal predicted level. The much hyped 3 metres was actually about 0.4 metres. I’d like to hear an explanation of why the predictions climbed so far so suddenly. Seems they used the same arithmetic for Marcia’s strength.

    Here’s a screen shot I made of the storm tide gauge.
    http://abovephotos.smugmug.com/Other/Forum-images/n-gGmPD/i-gPnMHR9/A

  78. Thebigredman February 25, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    Owen, are you another that thinks the storm surge of three metres that was predicted was expected to hit Yeppoon and Rosslyn Bay? No. It was predicted where Marcia crossed. Can your Rosslyn Bay gauge tell us what the surge was at Stockyard Point?

    Again, none of the data suggests a cat 5 hit Yeppoon directly. Again, the BOM are not suggesting it did nor did they forecast it in their final series of forecast track maps.

    I question the theory of some on here though that this was not much more than a summer storm. How is it that a 7 year old apartment building in Rosslyn Bay had its roof torn off and sustained EXTENSIVE water damage? A 7 year old building built to modern specifications.

    I suggest that you Google images of the Tunguska meteorite event. I am not suggesting that Marcia unleashed nearly the same amount of energy as this event but this is what areas around Byfield now look like.

  79. Simmo February 25, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    Well, if anyone wants to make estimates, I think I captured some of the higher gusts we had here in my part of Yeppoon. Our part of town seemed to catch the brunt of the gusts in Yeppoon looking at the nature strip near the bowls club. All of the large trees have most leaves stripped and many are busted up, broken and knocked down.

    Some of the bigger gusts come in the latter half of the video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmK5J8y-BZQ

    btw, wind as per the video was going right to left (roughly N-S) which ran near parallel to my front balcony (recessed brick), so no smaller missiles were going to get me while taking the video. I didn’t stick around for long though, it was not for the feint hearted.

  80. Joy February 26, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Questioning government and media management and handling of this cyclone event in no way indicates a lack of compassion for those affected – which incidentally includes myself, my property and all of my family who are spread throughout towns and remote areas and are all affected in minor and more serious ways. As a person living on the land, I am deeply concerned with improving the management of weather events to minimise their impact on a growing population in future. The critical and objective evaluation of the performance of our government institutions and their handling of such situations is vital. I have enormous compassion for people affected and am deeply saddened to see the impact on Yeppoon and Rockhampton – places I love and home to my family since the late 1800s, affected in this way.

  81. hunter February 27, 2015 at 6:04 am #

    Great article. You ask the question they cannot honestly answer. Fromt he Phillipne typoon hype last year, to the storm and back to Katrina the climate hypesters ahve been fibbing about storms.
    The facts are not supportive of the cliamte narrative and so are rewritten.
    Keep hammering away, Jennifer.
    Thanks for a very good essay.

  82. StuF February 27, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    A few minor quibbles with Jeff Higgins’ response. The radar loops supplied appear to show the distances when west of Yeppoon as Eye center 25km and eye wall 20km, if not a couple of km less. The Yeppoon AWS data shows max sustained wind of 120kmh, rather than 135kmh, and minimum barometric pressure of 985.5 hPa if the screenshot I took at 11:31am on the 21st can be relied upon. A look at Samuel Hill on satellite imagery does show timber to the NE and E along two creeks, to some low hills along the coast, but low compared to the more serious topography. Also not too bad to the SW, where the data appears to have the strongest winds coming from (strangely, I thought, given the eye position.)

    Not having a shot at Jeff by any means, he works very hard to provide an excellent service.

  83. John February 28, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

    “The central pressure of a cyclone needs to be somewhere in the 970 to 955 hPa range to be a Category 3.” — this goes to show just how little you know about even the basics of cyclones. Cyclone intensity is determined by max sustained wind speeds, NOT central pressure. None of the weather stations either at Middle Percy Island, Rockhampton or Yeppoon sampled the small quadrant of the core of the cyclone which contained the max winds.

  84. spangled drongo March 1, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    “None of the weather stations either at Middle Percy Island, Rockhampton or Yeppoon sampled the small quadrant of the core of the cyclone which contained the max winds.”

    IOW, John, there is no evidence that anything stronger ever existed.

  85. John March 1, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    There’s lots of evidence actually spangled drongo. Satellites can detect winds inside cyclones using microwave sensors and these indicated maximum winds ranging from Cat 4 to 5. Analyses using cloud structure signatures and past cyclones with known intensities were also consistent with these types of categories. Furthermore one of the most basic aspects of tropical cyclones travelling in the way that Marcia was travelling is that the strongest winds are usually confined to the inner southeast quadrant. Which means that the maximum winds would almost certainly be much higher than those recorded by the weather stations that the weaker sections of Marcia passed over. But of course let’s conveniently ignore all that for the sake of BOM-bashing.

  86. spangled drongo March 1, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Sure they can “detect” winds, John, but do you really believe they can calibrate them with any sort of accuracy?

    Estimate and speculate is about it.

    And do you really believe that where the eye wall touched Middle Percy that the wind strength there was ~ 80 kph less than a few kilometres away?

    This isn’t BoM-bashing, it’s simple analysis of known evidence.

  87. Lawrence D Fields March 2, 2015 at 5:41 am #

    In the past, cyclones and hurricanes hitting the USA were all given women’s names. In an attempt to correct for past sexism, they are pretty much 50-50 these days. I have a better idea.

    Let’s name all cyclones and hurricanes after famous Alarmists. Hurricane James, Hurricane Al, Hurricane Keith, Hurricane Barack, etc. But my all-time favorite would be Hurricane Mikey. 🙂

  88. Matt March 2, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Again a system with all sorts of claims yet no hard supporting evidence and all BOM have done by pulling the data is raise suspicion and speculation.

    Some appear to try and justify things with opposite arguments, if the small centre of Marcia was supposedly Cat 5 hence wasn’t samplied than how do these people explain Rockhampton? Smack bang over the airport @ Cat1 113km/h yet shut the whole place down.

    “Sustained” 10 minute wind speeds over water off Yeppoon for the period 10:30am through 1:45pm ranged from 35 to 54 knots (64 to 100km/h) and the majority of this was directly from the north and a brief period of East/ENE from 9:30am with max gusts 40-50 knots. This almost predominate northerly wind for the duration is interesting to say the least.

    Those claiming Cat5 at crossing then it’s very simple to prove, put an aircraft across the top of Shoalwater/Towsend area from east to west and if it was true Cat4 or 5 then there will be (no ifs or buts) a strip where there is absolutely nothing standing, everything will simply be flattened. Find that and you prove your point but until then some of the claims are purely speculation iwth absolutely no evidence.

  89. spangled drongo March 2, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    That’s absolutely right, Matt. The evidence would be there.

    Current known evidence says the BoM is exaggerating considerably.

  90. Thebigredman March 3, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    “Find that and you prove your point but until then some of the claims are purely speculation iwth absolutely no evidence.”

    ________________

    “That’s absolutely right, Matt. The evidence would be there.

    Current known evidence says the BoM is exaggerating considerably.”

    Been to Byfield/Stockyard Point in the last week?

  91. Thebigredman March 3, 2015 at 12:11 am #

    “Sure they can “detect” winds, John, but do you really believe they can calibrate them with any sort of accuracy?

    Estimate and speculate is about it.”

    Of course they can’t calibrate them with accuracy (please read with sarcastic tone in mind).

    At least they are using imperical data to estimate and speculate. What are you using for your estimations and speculation? What you have seen on TV and in the newspapers?

  92. spangled drongo March 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    So you’ve got some evidence of Cat 5, bigredman?

  93. Matt March 4, 2015 at 7:43 am #

    Some of the media claims are absolutely laughable, like how the media can even justify their comments is well beyond reality but obviously reality don’t make headlines or sell newspapers. Obviously even the meaning of “sustained” wind speed got a new make over 🙂

    JTWC have put Marcia as a 3 and now after reading all their warnings & bulletins I believe that is a fair call. In hindsight JTWC max sustained winds and peak gusts were in line with reality as well as noting the system rapidly deteriorated as it started to drag over land as the eye feature dissolved and the system started to break up. JTWC predicted wind speeds/gusts as it approached Middle Percy were basically in line with actual.

    I have heard somebody claims to have measured a wind speed of 330km/h in the Yeppoon area but for obvious reasons not even going to get into that one.

    With hindsight and in line with JTWC this system quickly degraded from a 3 to a low 2 the moment it touched land then was flatout being a 1 even before nearing Rockhampton.

  94. Robert Armstrong March 4, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    I guess a purely academic argument about the official intensity of a cyclone – or whether climate change is happening or not – means absolutely zilch to the many hundreds of people whose homes and businesses in Yeppoon , Rockhampton and other parts of CQ were either very severely damaged or written. Other than notoriety what on earth is to be gained.

  95. Matt March 4, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    Then just think for a moment how much worse the situation could have been if this had been in fact a Cat 5 (as some claim) or even high end Cat 3 directly impacting these areas.

    Yeppoon, Rockhampton and other parts of CQ probably got off very lightly considering what could have occured. This may just help some in future events but the last thing anybody needs to be doing now is hyping this up into something it was not and giving a false sense of security.

    People need to understand this for their own safety in any future events and understand all this was done by nothing more than a mediocre bottom end Cat 2 (at best).

  96. Bob in Castlemiane March 4, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Searching the net brings no wide area aerial pictures showing the wide spread devastation we saw after Cyclone Tracy. Obviously Tracy was more than 40 years ago, and building regulations at that time didn’t have the cyclone proof construction requirements they do now. Nonetheless many parts of Rocky and Yeppoon are quite old, pre-dating the current cyclone requirements. It would have been interesting to see some Tracy like wide angle shots.
    Wonder why the media didn’t flood us with such pictures? Maybe they knew the public would smell a rat just as they did after they saw pictures showing how limited was the level of damage at Cardwell after Cyclone Yasi made nearby landfall?

  97. John March 5, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    spangled drongo: wtf is it with armchair experts like you who always come ouf the woodwork after events like these and pass judgement on things like you know better than others who analyse these things for a living? The data from satellites IS compared to observations from conventional instruments. So once again, it clearly shows your “knowledge” of these things is utter garbage. They even named an effect after people like you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

  98. John March 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    I swear the masses are getting even dumber and more ignorant by the year.

  99. spangled drongo March 5, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    Tell me John, how does one rescue homes and high-rise from falling into the sea during a cyclone, sail at sea during a cyclone, go through the eye of a cyclone etc, from the comfort of one’s armchair?

    “The data from satellites IS compared to observations from conventional instruments.”

    To think you can calibrate wind speeds from pictures of clouds is delusion.

    But then you’re probably no stranger to that slight problem.

  100. Matt March 5, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    Obviously then JTWC & BOM were not on the same page re satellite data? JTWC acknowledged the surface observations and included these in their satellite based estimates while BOM ignored everything except their model. BOM had it at 5, JTWC had it at 3 so someone did get it wrong. The question is Why?

  101. spangled drongo March 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    Some idea of the limits of satellite measurement of cyclonic winds above 50 knots from NASA JPL:

    “Tropical cyclones (the generic term for hurricanes and typhoons), however, are difficult to measure. To relate the radar energy return to actual wind speed, scientists compare measurements taken from buoys and other ground stations to data the satellite acquired at the same time and place. Because the high wind speeds generated by cyclones are rare, scientists do not have corresponding ground information to know how to translate data from the satellite for wind speeds above 50 knots (about 93 km/hr or 58 mph). Also, the unusually heavy rain found in a cyclone distorts the microwave pulses in a number of ways, making a conversion to accurate wind speed difficult. Instead, the scatterometer provides a nice picture of the relative wind speeds within the storm and shows wind direction.”

  102. Bob in Castlemiane March 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    The “Dunning–Kruger effect” – really John. Sounds like something one might find in the Lew Papers?

    “These papers [the Lewandowsky papers] warn of cognitive bias effects, all of which occur in the CAGW Consensus, confirming it is heavily biased. Can’t admit this? Skeptics exposing the dilemma? So… push skeptics beyond the pale, minimizing cognitive dissonance.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/09/wrapped-in-lew-papers-the-psychology-of-climate-psychologization-part3/

  103. Ellen March 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    I invite all the doubters to visit Byfield/ Shoalwater area it see the damage. Talk to the locals who sat through this cyclone for 4 intense hours, speak to the local heroes who pushes through tree covered roads to make it to their mates. I have spoken to army personal who attended both clean ups at cyclone larry and yasi, and they all say the devastation here is worse. What saved the houses in Byfield is the trees, all our house used to be tucked into beautiful tree filled blocks, which are no more. You can all sit in your offices and speculate all you want, but I have seen it with my own eyes. It may not of been a cat 5 but it was much much stronger than a cat 2 you drongos!

  104. Margi March 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    Thank you Ellen! Good to hear from someone who has actually witnessed the devastation.
    The people of CQ aren’t claiming the cyclone was a cat 5 as part of a conspiracy to prove the existence of global warming. We know it was more than a cat 2 or 3 because we have actually witnessed the damage it caused. The people of Byfield especially, will not be complacent in future cyclones- even those that may be measured as a cat 1. The devastation that Marcia caused in this area will not be forgotten anytime soon. I’m sure these people will take all future cyclones seriously no matter what the category. So those who think they are saving the world by downplaying Cyclone Marcia and obsessing over conspiracy theories are really wasting their time.
    The media did get a few of the measurements wrong. For example I read in one Brisbane newspaper that Yeppoon had wind gusts of over 300kph- which wasn’t true. The media, particularly the CQ local media, played a major role in keeping everyone indoors and safe. I am not aware that there were any deaths attributed to the Cyclone. We can partly thank the media for that.

  105. John March 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    spangled drongo, you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed are you. “To think you can calibrate wind speeds from pictures of clouds is delusion.” — you don’t calibrate wind speeds just by glancing at a satellite photo and saying “she looks around a cat 5”. A number of techniques are used, ONE of which is the Dvorak technique which involves analysing various signatures of cyclones such as cloud top temperatures in infrared satellite imagery and other structures which have a known correlation with observed intensities from past cyclones.

    This really illustrates just how infuriatingly dumb people like you are and how totally oblivious you are to how complex and technical analysing cyclones is in real life. And whenever it comes to anything technical or complex I can bet a million dollars that there will always be ignorant people like you who make wrong assumptions based on your ridiculously simplistic view of the way things work in the real world. This event is no exception.

    Matt — “JTWC had it at 3 so someone did get it wrong.” — Wrong. The JTWC had it as a Cat 4, NOT cat 3. Even more importantly they use the Saffir-Simpson scale used for hurricanes in the eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It uses 1-minute wind speeds, not 10-minute wind speeds used to rate Australian cyclones. This means the corresponding wind speeds needed to reach each category is higher compared to our scale. In other words many cyclones in our region will have a lower rating on their scale. For a low end cat 5 cyclone in our area this corresponds to a cat 4 on their scale.

    “BOM ignored everything except their model.” — Wrong. Computer models were NOT used to rate it. This was especially the case with Marcia because they underestimated the intensity of Marcia rather than the other way around. So no BOM didn’t “ignore everything except their model”.

    And yes really Bob in Castlemiane. It’s so amazingly predictable to the extreme that people like you would paste a notorious sceptic website link such as that one while conveniently ignoring and/or attacking anything that happens to not fit in with your your anti global warming agenda and mantra.

    One thing is almost certain though. There will be more posts after this one containing (a) some sort of conspiracy theme (b) more misconceptions based on incorrect info and (c) more attacking of anyone who happens to actually agree with the BOM or anything remotely scientific. And you can be assured of that.

    All debate and views aside maybe some people should read what others have written who were actually on the ground in the area (for example Ellen’s post above) before shooting their “mouth” off again.

  106. John March 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    Here is the comparison between the intensity scale used in Australia and the one that is used in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific which is also the one that JTWC uses which I mentioned in my last comment.
    http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/images/faq/category-comparison.png

  107. spangled drongo March 6, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    John, in spite of your childish, gratuitous insults, I was trying to be polite and spare you obvious embarrassment when I produced NASA JPL’s own assessment of satellites’ inability to measure cyclonic wind speed above 50 knots with any accuracy.

    Not only were you not able to discover that for yourself and save yourself that embarrassment, but also after I produce it for you, you apparently can’t even understand what it says.

    Now, go back and read it several more times and then come back and tell us what you still don’t understand.

  108. John March 6, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    spangled drongo — “John, in spite of your childish, gratuitous insults, I was trying to be polite and spare you obvious embarrassment”

    Then what do you call your your earlier comment “To think you can calibrate wind speeds from pictures of clouds is delusion. But then you’re probably no stranger to that slight problem.”? Maybe you should practise what you preach. Look in your own backyard before you launch on others.

    “Now, go back and read it several more times and then come back and tell us what you still don’t understand.” — how about YOU stop being such a condescending twat and read back on all the points I have made, the vast majorify of which you still haven’t addressed. I said the remotely sensed satellite data is compared to conventional observations. Such data has high uncertainty with cyclones on average but that is on average. Some cyclones whose winds are able to be compared to conventional observations at the time have lower uncertainties if the satellite detected closely match those of conventional observations. Other cyclones over remote oceans where conventional observations are sparse or lacking have much higher uncertainties. Of course context like this is totally lost on a simpleton like you.

    You never addressed the corrections I made to all your misconceptions from earlier on so maybe it’s YOU who needs to go back and re-read what I said several times then come back and tell us what you don’t understand. Hypocrite. How many more misconceptions do you want to raise before you become less narrow minded?

  109. spangled drongo March 7, 2015 at 6:57 am #

    What is it about this simple statement from NASA JPL that you don’t understand, John?

    “Tropical cyclones (the generic term for hurricanes and typhoons), however, are difficult to measure. To relate the radar energy return to actual wind speed, scientists compare measurements taken from buoys and other ground stations to data the satellite acquired at the same time and place. Because the high wind speeds generated by cyclones are rare, scientists do not have corresponding ground information to know how to translate data from the satellite for wind speeds above 50 knots (about 93 km/hr or 58 mph). Also, the unusually heavy rain found in a cyclone distorts the microwave pulses in a number of ways, making a conversion to accurate wind speed difficult.”

    It plainly over-rides any claimed ability to estimate and speculate on wind speeds whatever method is used.

    Now, if you have any concrete evidence that Marcia was a Cat 5 [like photographs of coastlines stripped bare] please produce them or apologise and admit you don’t know what you are talking about.

  110. Matt March 7, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Elleen , You need to understand it really doens’t take a lot of wind to knock a lot of trees over. we now this because of the wind speeds recorded around Yeppoon, and yes Yeppoon sat through 4 hours of it as well, so don’t Byfield were the only ones.

    Now what it missing from all this is Samuel HIll observations, all of 15-20km north of Byfield they were recorded, they have now been removed, oh where could they have gone and why? And with these then people could make a better balanced judgement other than calling people drongos.

    Just remember this and if you have lived at Byfield for quite some time then you will relaize it doesn’t take a lot of wind to flatten pine trees (actually less than gum trees) which has occured several times in recent memory. The main issue with Byfield is there are a lot more trees and these days there are many more people living within this tree environment than 30-40 years ago so please no more about Byfield having coped something different, it has happened before you know.

    So did anybody get a copy of the Sam hill obs when they were still available, they might just throw a whole new light on the thinking?

  111. Ben March 10, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Having weathered several cyclones starting with David in the 70’s I can tell all of you that Marcia was the strongest and most damaging I have gone through, regardless of the figures. Trees did blow over but still many shorn off, blood wood and eucalyptus.
    I’m in Adelaide Park, major damage to property as well as trees. Byfield a lot of tree damage blown over. However Yaxley Road north had trees shorn off 2m to 3m above ground, not pine, but stringy-bark, blood wood, melaleuca, like a bomb blast.
    Buildings were covered with leaves stuck to buildings like glued there in a leopard spot effect, we still have them stuck on house and shed.
    So it’s all academic to me how fast it was, it was nasty regardless.

  112. Ellen March 10, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    Matt my understanding is that Samuel Hill was out of action before the cyclone reached it so has no recordings, (thanks for the geography lesson I am well aware of where Samuel hill is, in fact I have been there quite a few times). The point of my post was all these so called experts sitting in their offices making calls on what happened here, I am simply inviting then to come and get some witness account and see what the cyclone has done here. I am not talking about the pine forests I am talking about the huge silky oaks and figs that are snapped like toothpicks. As Ben stated, it was not only the pine, and the northern end of Byfield certainly copped it the worst. Two weeks on Byfield is a long way from being cleaned up

  113. Bigredman March 10, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

    NASA image of Marcia about two hours before crossing the coast.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/image/6160130-1×1-940×940.jpg

    Nerimbera soccer club in Rockhampton. Usual damage from a Cat1/2 cyclone? I think not.

    http://media.apnarm.net.au/img/media/images/2015/02/21/9-2690665-rok200215nerimbera1_fct768x576_t620.jpg

    Anyone know how strong winds need to be to knock over 100 year old Bunya trees like the ones at the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens?

    Just a little summer storm wasn’t it.

    Anyone doubting the severitry of this event is a fool. Spangled Drongo, read the post way up top from mister Higgins that states the data from Middle Percy Island (AGAIN NOT IN THE DIRECT LINE OF MARCIA) is in line with a Cat 5 cyclone passing close by.

    All of you doubters, get off you high horses and in your car and go up to Byfield, Woodbury, Adelaide Park etc. Get up to Stockyard Point and talk to the people who were actually there (unlike any of you).

  114. Matt March 12, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    Samuel Hill was definately on line as the these observations were much more important in the Middle Percy for example. Samuel Hill was indicating basically what we were in for.

    Ellen, So if Samuel was out of action before the cyclone hit it then how come there is wind data for 9am (SW @76km/h) and 3pm (NW @ 26km/h) yet absolutely no record of Max wind gusts?? strange hey? Samuel Hill was definately working during (I was watching it) and well after the cyclone past, at least until 3pm 20/2 and was probably still working fine after the power failed and Telstra’s mobile network failed but there is absolutely no reason for Samuel to not have recorded and uploaded Max wind gusts.

    Oh and Bigredman, you sound like someone with very little historical background re any of the areas you mentioned, some of us has seen storm damage through many of these areas and especially on the western slopes of the Byfield mountains that would make you shudder. Unlike you some of us have actually seen this before.

    As previously mentioned lets see the data that was recorded for Samuel Hill right up unitl Telstra’s network failed, why is it now there, what is there to hide?

  115. Bigredman March 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    Indeed Matt, I haven’t seen damage like this in Byfield previously. Neither have the residents of Byfield that I have spoken to and helped clean up. None of them have seen damage anywhere near as bad as this. People that have lived there for fifty years. People whose families have been there for generations.

    Are these people to be ignored? Is their historical background irrelevant? Is their collective knowledge of the region meaningless?

    How about the guy that had to go 3km from his house to his front gate on foot and was flat out walking 10m without having to climb over piles of broken trees? The devastation of rainforest habitats along Water Park Creek?

    I don’t know what your historical knowledge of these areas is Matt but it pales into insignificance in comparison to the collective knowledge of the people I have spoken to and helped since Marcia devistated their homes and livelihoods.

  116. Matt March 12, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    Obviously there is not much more to say on this subject! Will leave this to those who think they know everybody and know it all, however there is one last thing I will add, for those who think they have lived through a Cat 4, Cat 5 or even high end Cat 3 are going to be in for an awfull shock when they actually do.

    Perception is a marvellous thing and with time reality will be distorted even further. Lets hope they never endure a Cat 4+ direct impact in this area as they honestly won’t know what hit them.

    Hopefully for some this will have been a wake up call, to take some preventative action, no point in living in your dream environment if that same environment destroys you due to their obsession within their own environment.

    As for what historical and local knowledge I have? Well obviously it really doesn’t matter, most have already made their owns minds up. Lets hope they never actually have to deal with a Cat 3+/4/5 in this area, the end result would be horrendous compared to the slap on the wrist from Marcia.

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