The Tempest

Not Exactly Shooting For \”Miss Congeniality\”

Cyclone Glenda Hits Australia

Posted by Daniel on Friday, March 31, 2006

The remote northwest Australian fishing town of Onslow was lashed by torrential rain and winds gusting at 160 km/h (100 mph) as severe tropical cyclone Glenda crossed the coast late Thursday from the Indian Ocean, government weather authorities said.

There were no immediate reports of substantial damage or injuries.

About 500 people were evacuated from the town of Karratha as Glenda bore down on the coast.

The cyclone first hit land along the sparsely populated Pilbara coast of Western Australia state, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of the state capital, Perth, at about 4 p.m. local time (0800 GMT), Bureau of Meteorology manager Grahame Reader said.

Its full fury hit Onslow, a town of about 800, at about 7 p.m. (1100 GMT), senior meteorologist Grant Elliott said.

"Flooding is going to be an issue," said Grant, adding that the cyclone had brought 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain in two hours.

A bureau statement said the eye of the storm was located over Onslow at 9 p.m. (1300 GMT) and it was expected to track south and weaken overland.

"Very destructive winds will extend southward through the western Pilbara (coast) overnight and Friday as the system moves further south and gradually weakens," the statement said.

Widespread heavy rain and flooding are likely in western Pilbara and the western part of neighboring Gascoyne over the next few days, it said.

The storm has uprooted trees and disrupted power and communications across the Pilbara coast — the most cyclone-prone region of Australia.

Onslow is known as Cyclone City, according to a local history posted on the Internet that said cyclones in the town date back to 1926.

In February 1995, seven fishermen died when two trawlers sank off Onslow as a cyclone of similar strength passed by.

Heavy rains pelted the region Thursday as residents battened down for the storm — the sixth and largest to menace the area since the season began in November.

Glenda's assault on Western Australia state comes just over a week after Cyclone Larry battered Queensland state on the east coast with 290 km/h (180 mph) winds, devastating farming towns and flattening banana and sugar cane plantations.

Glenda was a category-four storm, one below the most powerful grade.

The Pilbara region earlier was put on red alert, with offshore oil field operations and mining ports closed. The area includes Woodside Petroleum's A$14 billion ($10 billion) North West Shelf liquefied natural gas project at Karratha.

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