Tropical Cyclone Owen – UPDATE #7

Department of the Chief Minister

Tropical Cyclone Owen – UPDATE #7

13 December 2018

Thursday, 13 December 2018
Issued at: 0845hrs CST

Tropical Cyclone Owen has intensified to a Category 3 system as it sits just off the coast of Bing Bong (Port McArthur).

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says TC Owen has been near stationary along the Gulf of Carpentaria’s south west coast for the past couple of hours. Sustained winds of around 150 kilometres per hour have been recorded at the eye of the cyclone.

“The advice that we have from the Bureau of Meteorology is that TC Owen will develop further as it straddles the coast this morning before it starts moving towards Queensland later today,” Regional Controller Travis Wurst said.

“We’ve been told it could intensify to a Category 4 system in the next six hours.

“Because the system has slowed down and is staying in the area, we’ve been in contact with the community at Ngukurr to ensure that locals are prepared for the strong winds in the region.

A Warning is in place for Numbulwar in the Northern Territory through to Aurukun in Queensland, including Borroloola. A Warning for the area between Alyangula and Numbulwar, including Groote Eylandt has been cancelled. There is a Watch in place for parts of Queensland from Karumba to Coen.

“No-one took up the option of staying in the Numbulwar public shelter overnight, but we’re leaving it open just in case. The shelters at Borroloola are also still open and we’ve had around 125 people access them since last night. There are no current plans to open public shelters at Ngukurr.

“Schools in those areas are closed while the buildings are being used as shelters. We want people heading to those shelters to bring their cyclone kits with them, including food and bedding.”

Areas along the coast are forecast to receive rainfalls of between 20 and 30 millimetres per hour. This could lead to falls of 120 to 200mms which could see flash flooding in the region.

Gale force winds are predicted along the coast and for Borroloola later today, with the possibility of destructive winds.

“People in the region can expect to see power failures, roof and structure damage and destroy caravans.

“If it gets up to a Category 4 system, that would mean there would be destructive to very destructive winds, which can see significant building damage. Caravans could be blown away and there could be dangerous airborne debris and widespread power failures.

“The southern end of Groote Eylandt had the most wind overnight with estimated gusts of around 90 – 125 kilometres per hour knocking down some trees and there was a small amount of rain, less than 50 millimetres,” Regional Controller Wurst said.

The advice from emergency services is not to travel in the area unless it is to a public ashelter. Motorists should slow down, turn on their lights and drive to conditions.

People in the region should finalise their cyclone plans and preparations as soon as possible and take shelter as conditions deteriorate.

A list of what residents should include in their emergency kit can be found on the Northern Territory Emergency Service website:

Cyclone preparedness information is available at SecureNT:

For more information on weather warnings go to the BoM website:

Media Contact
Jessica Tapp

0476 835 348

A drier than average start to the wet season likely for Nhulunbuy this year

If you thought it has been dry lately, you are absolutely right! Currently as of Tuesday, November 20 it has been 95 consecutive days since any measurable rain has fallen into the official rain gauge located at the BOM office near Gove Airport.

This is the second longest stretch in history since the Bureau office opened in 1986 second only to the year 2014 when 104 days went by without any rain falling into the gauge.  If you wanted to find the next closest stretch that was this dry, you’d have to go all the way back to the year 1986 when 83 days went by without rain.

November is traditionally one of the driest months of the year averaging only 3.6mm and is part of the “build up” to the wet season, and it is not uncommon for the whole month of November to go by without any rain being recorded.  The years 2015 and 2016 were the most recent times when Gove had no rain recorded for November.

The reason for the likely drier than average start to the wet is because of two main factors.  The first is because we are currently in what’s known as a positive phase of the “Indian Ocean Dipole” which comes about when the sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean off northwest WA and the Top End are cooler than normal for this time of year.  Cooler than normal sea temperatures in this area usually results in less cloudiness and thus less rainfall during the early part of the wet season, however this IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole) should return back to neutral values by the end of the month.

The second reason, is a likely “El Nino” developing in the Pacific Ocean.  During an El Nino, much warmer than normal waters develop off the west coast of South America, while cooler than normal waters exist off the north Queensland coast, usually resulting in a drier than normal wet season for most parts of QLD and parts of the NT.

So, in a nutshell if it doesn’t rain before Thursday next week, it will be the longest dry spell on record since the met office opened in 1986.  Currently, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting only a very low chance of rain between today (November 20) through until Monday next week and a slight/medium chance of rain next Tuesday.

Cameron Hines
OIC Gove Meteorological Information Office
Bureau of Meteorology
PO Box 1396 Nhulunbuy NT 0881
Melville Bay Road, Gove Airport (Western Side) NT 0880
Tel: +61 8 8987 2477



Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
Northern Territory
Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

Media: The Standard Emergency Warning Signal should NOT be used with this warning.




Issued at 8:01 pm ACST [8:31 pm AEST] on Friday 23 March 2018


Severe Tropical Cyclone Nora has intensified to a Category 3 system.

Areas Affected:

Warning Zone

Elcho Island to Cape Shield, including Nhulunbuy ,and Gilbert River Mouth to Thursday Island, including Weipa.

Watch Zone

NT/Qld Border to Gilbert River Mouth.

Cancelled Zone


Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone Nora at 6:30 pm ACST [7:00 pm AEST]:

Intensity: Category 3, sustained winds near the centre of 120 kilometres per hour with wind gusts to 165 kilometres per hour.

Location: within 20 kilometres of 10.9 degrees South 138.4 degrees East, estimated to be 230 kilometres northeast of Nhulunbuy and 425 kilometres west northwest of Weipa.

Movement: southeast at 24 kilometres per hour.

Tropical Cyclone Nora has reached Category 3 strength. Nora has started taking a more southeasterly track, heading into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The system is continuing to instensify and is expected to reach Category 4 during Saturday while over the northeast Gulf of Carpentaria. On Sunday, the Tropical Cyclone is expected to take a more southerly track and move close to the southeastern Gulf of Carpentaria coast, although a coastal crossing anywhere along the western Cape York Peninsula south of Mapoon during Saturday or Sunday is also quite possible.


The risk of GALES, with gusts to 110 kilometres per hour, is easing for the Northern Territory, but may develop in coastal areas between Elcho Island and Cape Shield, including Nhulunbuy, for a period tonight before midnight.

GALES with gusts to 110 kilometres per hour may develop in coastal areas between Thursday Island and Pormpuraaw, including Weipa, early on Saturday. Gales may extend south between Pormpuraaw and Gilbert River Mouth later on Saturday, and between Gilbert River Mouth and the NT/Qld Border, including Mornington Island, overnight Saturday and during Sunday.

DESTRUCTIVE WINDS with gusts to 155 kilometres per hour may develop in coastal areas between Thursday Island and Aurukun, including Weipa, during Saturday if the Tropical Cyclone continues to track east southeasterly. Destructive winds may develop between Aurukun and Pormpuraaw later on Saturday or early Sunday. VERY DESTRUCTIVE winds with gusts to 270 kilometres per hour may develop between Mapoon and Pormpuraaw, including Weipa, during Saturday, if the cyclone does not begin to track more southerly on Saturday.

HEAVY RAINFALL is forecast about Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula in the coming days and may extend to the Gulf Country of Queensland late Saturday and into Sunday, depending on the track of the Tropical Cyclone. Heavy rainfall could potentially lead to flash flooding in some areas.

As the cyclone approaches the coast, a storm tide is expected between Mapoon and Gilbert River Mouth. Large waves may produce minor flooding along the foreshore. People living in areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property as much as possible and be prepared to help their neighbours.

Recommended Action:

NTES advises communities between Elcho Island and Cape Shield, including Nhulunbuy:

– Prepare for gales and heavy rain during today and into this evening

– Finalise your home preparations

– Check your family, friends and neighbours understand and are prepared

– Move indoors and shelter as the conditions deteriorate

– Stay indoors and avoid travel during the storm

– Stay away from beaches and immediate coastal areas as dangerous coastal flooding may occur

People between Thursday Island and Gilbert River Mouth, including Weipa, should take precautions and listen to the next advice at 11:30 pm.

People between Gilbert River Mouth and the NT/Qld Border should consider what action they will need to take if the cyclone threat increases, and listen to the next advice at 11:30 pm.

– Information is available from your local government

– For cyclone preparedness and safety advice, visit Queensland’s Disaster Management Services website (

– For emergency assistance call the state emergency service on 132 500 (for assistance with storm damage, rising flood water, fallen trees on buildings or roof damage).

Further advice on cyclone emergencies is available at

Please ensure that friends, family and neighbours have heard and understood this message, particularly new arrivals to the area.

Next Advice:

The next advice will be issued by 11:00 pm ACST Friday 23 March [11:30 pm AEST Friday 23 March].

This advice is available on telephone NT-1300 659 211 and QLD-1300 659 212

A map showing the track of the cyclone is available at: