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THE QUEENSLAND CYCLONE - MARCH 23 2017 - LATEST INFO

A Tropical LOW is deepening to the north of Willis Island and will track southwards for the next 24 hours. This LOW is then set to intensify into a Tropical Cyclone over the weekend before moving west to hit the coast on Monday or Tuesday. We have taken some of your most frequently asked questions and passed them onto OCC's Nitso who has answered them below. If this Q and A is popular with the masses, Nitso will continue it, if people aren't interested then we won't do it again.

REMEMBER THESE ARE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS BASED ON CURRENT PRELIMINARY ENSEMBLE GUIDANCE. CHECK BACK TOMORROW NIGHT FOR THE NEW DETAILS BASED ON TOMORROW'S GUIDANCE

​​​Will this cyclone hit Town/City X Y Z? ​This is the most popular one we get asked. We don't know until about 24 hours before it crosses the coast, and even then slight wobbles in the track could create deviations of over 50kms in as little as 6 hours. This is one we always stay away from. 

However this Tropical Cyclone is likely to be moderate to large in size and you need to understand that gales will be experienced a long way south of the circulation as well as around the track. For example IF the cyclone was to hit Cardwell, Townsville would experience gales and possibly even damaging/destructive wind gusts, while Cairns would likely experience a fresh breeze (possibly strong overnight with katabatic westerly winds).
​How Strong will it be? ​Intensity estimates range wildly from category 1 to category 5. Our best guess right now is a  Category 3 system . 

If the system stays over water longer than Monday than a 3 or 4 is likely. If the system hits the coast early on Monday then it may only get to a high 1 or 2.

Understand that the only thing limiting this system's development will be its proximity to the Queensland coastline and how much time it has over open waters.

Current model indications show us that the system will be lying in a very favourable region for RAPID INTENSIFICATION later Sunday and Monday.

Below are model intensities and favoured strike locations
GFS Ensemble - Category 1 Innisfail to Townsville
UKMO Ensemble - Category 3/4 - Tully to Ayr
ECMWF Ensemble - Category 3/4 - Innisfail to Ayr
CMC Ensemble - Category 2 - Ingham to Bowen
HWRF - Category 5 - Ingham to Ayr
NAVGEM - Category 2 - Ingham to Bowen
JMA - Category 1 - Cairns to Townsville
ACCESS G - Category 1 - Cairns to Townsville

It is important when forecasting intensity to err on the side of the higher resolution models with smaller gridpoints. These are the ECMWF, UKMO, GFS and HWRF. Three out of four of these are showing a Severe Tropical Cyclone making landfall.

It is also important to realise this system is still only just a baby so with a bit more time models will 'get smarter' in their intensity estimates once they hone in on the circulation.

When will it hit?​This is a tough question because each computer model develops a slightly different strength to the ridge component that will capture the cyclone and move it west. Models like the EC and ACCESS make landfall early on Monday due to the strong ridge while models like the HWRF wait till late Tuesday to make landfall. 

Our best guess right now is either Monday morning to Tuesday morning.

​How much rain will fall​This will be heavily dependent on how fast the cyclone is moving and where you are in relation to it. A fast moving cyclone will dump heavy rain but for just a short period, while a slow moving cyclone will dump equally as heavy rain but for a prolonged period. 

The heaviest rainfall will occur along the track and to the south of the track. Heavy rain will continue after the system has made landfall in a moist north to north-easterly stream in coastal areas. Early precipitation forecasts indicate falls of over 300mm/24 hours in slow moving setups (UKMO) while falls of 100-200mm/24hrs in faster moving setups are likely.

Remember the heaviest falls will occur along the forecast track (within 100kms either side) and south of the system track (up to 400kms away from the centre in feeder bands)
​Is there a chance this will miss the coast?​There's always a chance, but the chance is rated at about 10%
​Is there a chance this will hit anywhere south of Mackay?​there's always a chance, but this chance is rated at less than 10%
​Will this cyclone continue west to the NT or move south through inland Queensland?​This we can't tell you models are well and truly split here on this topic. So watch this space. 
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