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Monthly Global Tropical Cyclone Summary March 2003
[Summaries and Track Data] [Prepared by Gary Padgett]

                   MONTHLY GLOBAL TROPICAL CYCLONE SUMMARY
                      
                                MARCH, 2003
                                

  (For general comments about the nature of these summaries, as well as
  information on how to download the tabular cyclone track files, see
  the Author's Note at the end of this summary.)

  *************************************************************************

                              MARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  --> Another intense cyclone forms in Southwest Indian Ocean
  --> Unusual tropical cyclone moves eastward across northern Australia
  --> Twin South Pacific hurricanes--one strikes New Caledonia

  *************************************************************************

                ***** Feature of the Month for March *****

             UPDATED TABLES OF ATLANTIC NET TROPICAL ACTIVITY

     For the past two years I have included tables of Atlantic and
  Northeastern Pacific monthly net tropical activity (NTC).  As part of
  the monthly feature for March, I have included tables for the Atlantic
  basin--the Northeast Pacific will follow in a later summary.  When
  breaking up a tropical cyclone season temporally (into months), some
  decisions have to be made regarding inter-monthly cyclones.  I have
  previously explained in detail my reasoning here, and interested
  persons can find this in the March, 2002, summary, which can be
  obtained from any of the websites listed at the end of this summary.

     All tropical cyclonic activity in the Atlantic during 2002 was
  fully consummated during the months of July through October.  The
  first table below lists the monthly statistics for these four months
  as well as the seasonal totals.  The second table lists the monthly
  figures over the period 1950-2002, inclusive.


                   Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2002
                   ---------------------------------

  Month    NS      H       IH       NSD       HD       IHD      NTC
                                
  JUL       1      0        0       1.75     0.00      0.00     2.30
  AUG       3      0        0       5.00     0.00      0.00     6.65
  SEP       8      4        1      37.25     8.00      1.75    55.94
  OCT       0      0        1      10.50     2.75      1.25    16.85

  TOTAL    12      4        2      54.50    10.75      3.00    81.74



                     Atlantic Basin Monthly NTC Table
                        Based on Period 1950-2002
                     --------------------------------

  Month    NS      H       IH       NSD       HD       IHD      NTC
                                
  JAN       0      0        0       4.50     3.50      0.00     0.07
  FEB       1      0        0       1.50     0.00      0.00     0.04
  MAR       0      0        0       0.00     0.00      0.00     0.00
  APR       0      0        0       0.00     0.00      0.00     0.00
  MAY       5      2        0      18.50     6.25      0.00     0.46
  JUN      27     10        2      72.25    13.25      0.75     2.35
  JUL      42     17        1     123.00    32.25      0.50     3.62
  AUG     141     79       30     618.50   296.50     63.25    24.54
  SEP     185    129       66    1171.75   651.50    157.00    47.50
  OCT      87     57       18     474.75   232.25     40.25    16.81
  NOV      27     20        4     126.75    46.00      6.25     4.26
  DEC       3      2        0      12.75     3.75      0.00     0.33

  TOTAL   518    316      121    2624.25  1285.25    268.00

  AVG    9.77   5.96     2.28      49.51    24.25      5.06


     As an extra feature this month, I am including the Glossary of
  Abbreviations and Acronyms which I developed several years ago.  This
  was done for the benefit of those readers who might not be all that
  familiar with many of the abbreviations and acronyms which are used
  frequently by those in the meteorological community.   I have appended
  the Glossary to the monthly summaries on several occasions and have
  also sent it to persons who requested a copy via e-mail.


                 GLOSSARY of ABBREVIATIONS and ACRONYMS

  AOML/HRD - Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory/
             Hurricane Research Division, located on Virginia Key, Miami,
             Florida, U.S.A.

  AOR -     area of responsibility

  CDO -     central dense overcast

  CI -      current intensity

  CIMSS -   Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies
            (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  CP -      central pressure

  CPHC -    Central Pacific Hurricane Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

  CWBT -    Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan

  FLW -     flight level wind (or winds)

  FTP -     file transfer protocol

  HKO -     Hong Kong Observatory

  hPa -     hectopascal, numerically equivalent to millibar

  HPC -     Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, Camp Springs,
            Maryland

  IMD -     India Meteorological Department (RSMC New Delhi, India)

  JMA -     Japanese Meteorological Agency (RSMC Tokyo, Japan)

  JTWC -    Joint Typhoon Warning Center, formerly on Guam, now at
            Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

  km -      kilometer, or kilometre

  kt -      knot = 1 nautical mile per hour

  LLCC -    low-level circulation center
         
  m -       meter, or metre

  mb -      millibar, numerically equivalent to hectopascal (hPa)

  MFR -     Meteo France on Reunion Island

  mm -      millimeter

  MSW -     maximum sustained wind(s) (either 1-min avg or 10-min avg)

  nm -      nautical mile = 6076.12 feet or 1852.0 meters

  NMCC -    National Meteorological Center of China

  NPMOC -   Naval Pacific Meteorological and Oceanographic Center, Pearl
            Harbor, Hawaii, U.S.A.

  PAGASA -  Philippines' Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services
            Administration

  RSMC -    Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre

  SST -     sea surface temperature

  STS -     severe tropical storm (MSW greater than 47 kts)

  STWO -    Significant Tropical Weather Outlook - bulletin issued
            daily by JTWC giving information about various areas of
            disturbed weather and the potential for tropical cyclone
            development

  TC -      tropical cyclone

  TCFA -    Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert - issued by JTWC when a
            tropical cyclone is expected to develop within the next
            24 hours

  TCWC -    Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre (generic term)

  TD -      tropical depression

  TPC/NHC - Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center, Miami,
            Florida, U.S.A.

  TS -      tropical storm

  WMO -     World Meteorological Organization, headquartered at Geneva,
            Switzerland

  UTC -     Universal Time Coordinated, equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time
            or Zulu (Z)

  *************************************************************************
  
                             ACTIVITY BY BASINS

  ATLANTIC (ATL) - North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones

  *************************************************************************

  NORTHEAST PACIFIC (NEP) - North Pacific Ocean East of Longitude 180

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones

  *************************************************************************

  NORTHWEST PACIFIC (NWP) - North Pacific Ocean West of Longitude 180

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones

  *************************************************************************

  NORTH INDIAN OCEAN (NIO) - Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones

  *************************************************************************

  SOUTHWEST INDIAN OCEAN (SWI) - South Indian Ocean West of Longitude 90E

  Activity for March:  1 very intense tropical cyclone


                        Sources of Information
                        ----------------------

     The primary sources of tracking and intensity information for
  Southwest Indian Ocean tropical cyclones are the warnings issued by
  the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre on La Reunion Island, part of
  Meteo France (MFR), and the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre
  for the basin.    However, tropical cyclones in this region are named 
  by the sub-regional warning centres on Mauritius and Madagascar with
  longitude 55E being the demarcation line between their respective
  areas of warning responsibility.  The La Reunion centre only advises
  these agencies regarding the intensity of tropical systems.  References
  to sustained winds imply a 10-minute averaging period unless otherwise
  stated.

     In the companion tropical cyclone tracks file, I occasionally
  annotate positions from warnings issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning
  Center (JTWC) of the U. S. Air Force and Navy, located at Pearl
  Harbor, Hawaii, when they differ from MFR's coordinates by usually
  40-50 nm or more.  The JTWC warnings are also the source of the
  1-minute average maximum sustained wind values included in the
  tracks file.    Additionally, information describing details of
  satellite imagery and atmospheric circulation features included in
  the narratives is often gleaned from the JTWC warnings.


             Southwest Indian Ocean Tropical Activity for March
             --------------------------------------------------

     Only one tropical cyclone formed during March, but it turned out to
  be the most intense of the season, barring an exceptional really late-
  season intense cyclone.  Tropical Cyclone Kalunde formed early in the
  month in the eastern portion of the basin, and remained in the central
  Indian Ocean for its entire life.  After reaching a peak intensity of
  115 kts (140 kts per JTWC), Kalunde began slowly weakening but was
  still a potent system when it passed very close to Rodrigues Island
  on the 12th.   The only other tropical system active in the Southwest
  Indian Ocean during March was intense Tropical Cyclone Japhet, which was
  operating in the Mozambique Channel as the month opened.  Japhet made
  landfall in Mozambique on 3 March.    The complete report on Tropical
  Cyclone Japhet can be found in the February summary.



                        TROPICAL CYCLONE KALUNDE
                            (MFR-14 / TC-23S)
                              4 - 16 March
              --------------------------------------------

  Kalunde: contributed by Tanzania

  A. Storm Origins
  ----------------

     An area of convection developed on 3 March several hundred miles to
  the east-southeast of Diego Garcia.  MFR issued the first bulletin on
  Tropical Disturbance 14 at 04/0000 UTC with the center located about
  500 nm east-southeast of Diego Garcia.  A STWO from JTWC at 0330 UTC
  upgraded the development potential to fair.  Animated multi-spectral
  imagery depicted improving organization of deep convection over a
  LLCC while an upper-level analysis indicated weak to moderate vertical
  shear and good divergence aloft.

     At 1800 UTC MFR upgraded the system to tropical depression status
  with 30-kt sustained winds, and at 2130 UTC JTWC issued a TCFA for the
  disturbance.  The system was then centered approximately 450 nm south-
  east of Diego Garcia, and animated infrared imagery and a 04/1307 UTC
  SSM/I pass indicated that deep convection over the LLCC had increased in
  organization, although the deep convection was located primarily to the
  west and southwest of the center.


  B. Track and Intensity History
  ------------------------------

     MFR upgraded the depression to tropical storm status at 0600 UTC on
  5 March, and the Meteorological Services of Mauritius assigned the name
  Kalunde.  Tropical Storm Kalunde was then centered approximately 375 nm
  southeast of Diego Garcia, moving west-northwestward at 4 kts.  JTWC
  also issued their first warning on TC-23S at 0600 UTC, estimating the
  MSW (1-min avg) at 35 kts.  Kalunde steadily intensified over the next
  couple of days before undergoing rapid intensification on the 7th.
  The JTWC warning at 06/0000 UTC relocated the storm farther to the east
  based on a 05/2032 UTC SSM/I pass.    It appeared that Kalunde had
  described a small clockwise loop during the previous six hours.  The
  warning noted that while the coverage of deep convection had continued
  to increase, the organization of the system had not significantly
  improved.  At 0600 UTC Kalunde was centered about 330 nm southeast of
  Diego Garcia and moving west-southwestward at 7 kts.    A 06/0406 UTC
  SSM/I pass revealed that the deep convection was confined to the western
  semicircle.

     MFR upgraded Kalunde to severe tropical storm status with 50-kt winds
  at 1200 UTC on 6 March.   At 1800 UTC JTWC upped their MSW (1-min avg)
  estimate to 50 kts based on CI estimates ranging from 35 to 65 kts.  The
  storm at that time was centered approximately 300 nm south-southeast of
  Diego Garcia.  At 0600 UTC on the 7th, both MFR and JTWC upgraded Kalunde
  to tropical cyclone (hurricane) intensity.  Current intensity estimates
  at the time noted in the JTWC warning ranged from 65 to 90 kts, and a
  07/0243 UTC SSM/I pass had depicted a 29-nm diameter eye.   Kalunde
  continued to intensify rapidly and by 1800 UTC had become an intense
  cyclone with MFR and JTWC estimating the intensity at 95 and 115 kts,
  respectively.   The cyclone was then located approximately 375 nm south-
  southwest of Diego Garcia and was continuing its trek toward the south-
  west, steered by a mid-level subtropical ridge to the southeast.

     The rapid intensification trend continued until early on 8 March--at
  08/0000 UTC JTWC upped the MSW to 140 kts (1-min avg) based on satellite
  CI estimates of 140 kts.   And at 0600 UTC, MFR increased the intensity
  to the peak 10-min avg MSW for the storm's history of 115 kts.   The
  CP was estimated to be 905 mb--indicating a very intense tropical
  cyclone.  Kalunde was located roughly 400 nm south-southwest of Diego
  Garcia and moving southwestward at around 7 kts.  Gales extended outward
  from the center about 130 nm and the radius of 50-kt winds was estimated
  at 75 nm.  Kalunde peaked in intensity on the 8th--by early on 9 March
  MFR and JTWC had decreased their respective MSW estimates to 115 and
  120 kts.  A microwave pass around 1200 UTC revealed that convection was
  beginning to erode in the northwestern quadrant of the eyewall.

     Tropical Cyclone Kalunde spent the 10th and 11th moving slowly south-
  westward and gradually weakening.  The cyclone apparently underwent an
  eyewall replacement cycle late on the 10th and early on the 11th, and
  had developed concentric eyewalls again by late on 11 March--a TRMM pass
  at 11/2250 UTC depicted concentric eyewalls once more.   After dropping
  the MSW to 95 kts (1-min avg) at 10/1200 UTC, JTWC gradually increased
  the intensity back to 105 kts by 0000 UTC on 12 March, but this apparent
  slight re-intensification was not reflected in the official MSW estimates
  from MFR.   Kalunde had been slowly approaching the small island of
  Rodrigues (belonging to Mauritius), and at 1200 UTC on 12 March was
  centered around 30 nm slightly south of due east of Rodrigues, moving
  south-southwestward at 6 kts.   Satellite CI estimates ranged from 90 to
  105 kts, and MFR followed the lower of these and estimated the intensity
  at 80 kts (10-min avg), whereas JTWC maintained the MSW at 105 kts (1-min
  avg).  (Note:  According to Karl Hoarau, at its closest point of approach
  to Rodrigues, the center of Kalunde passed about 16 nm east of the
  eastern coast of the island around 12/1315 UTC.)

     After passing Rodrigues, Kalunde began to weaken.  At 13/0000 UTC JTWC
  dropped the MSW to 75 kts (1-min avg), but MFR still maintained the
  intensity at 80 kts.  The storm by then had turned to the south-southeast
  and this motion continued throughout the 13th and 14th.   Weakening
  continued and MFR downgraded Kalunde to severe tropical storm status with
  60-kt winds at 0000 UTC on 14 March.   By 1200 UTC the MSW was down to
  55 kts (50 kts per JTWC), and visible imagery indicated that the LLCC was
  fully-exposed with deep convection sheared 90 nm to the southeast.
  Kalunde continued trekking south-southeastward on the 15th as it under-
  went extratropical transition.  JTWC issued their final warning at 1200
  UTC, estimating the intensity at 30 kts (MFR was reporting 35 kts).  The
  JTWC warning noted that while CI estimates were only 25 kts, animated
  satellite imagery suggested that the system was slightly stronger than
  the Dvorak estimates yielded.   Kalunde was rapidly losing its last
  vestiges of tropical characteristics, and at 1800 UTC MFR declared the
  system extratropical, located approximately 600 nm south-southeast of
  Rodrigues.   The final bulletin was issued at 1200 UTC on the 16th.


  C. Meteorological Observations
  ------------------------------

     At Pointe Canon (WMO 61988: 19.7S/63.4E) wind gusts had reached 66 kts
  by 12/0400 UTC and were up to 86 kts at 0900 UTC.  At 1200 UTC the peak
  MSW (10-min avg) of 47 kts, gusting to 89 kts, was recorded with the SLP
  measured at 965.3 mb.  The maximum gust of 93 kts occurred between 1200
  and 1300 UTC.    The airport weather station at Plaine Corail (19.7S/
  63.3E) recorded a sustained wind of 65 kts and a gust of 102 kts at
  1100 UTC before the anemometer failed.   A press report indicated that
  the peak gust at Plaine Corail was 115 kts, but it isn't certain if this
  value is an estimate or else was recorded before the anemometer failed.
  Plaine Corail was more exposed to the strongest winds than Pointe Canon,
  and gusts there had reached 91 kts as early as 0400 UTC and 101 kts by
  0900 UTC.   Almost 3/4 of the island is over 150 m in altitude, so it
  seems likely that peak gusts of 110 kts or higher were experienced over
  the greater part of Rodrigues.   Gusts exceeded 65 kts for a period of
  34 hours.

     One report indicated that 300 mm of rain was recorded during an 8-hour
  period, but the time and location weren't given.  Plaine Corail measured
  90 mm of rain during a three-hour period between 0600 and 0900 UTC on
  12 March.  (A special thanks to Karl Hoarau and Patrick Hoareau for
  sending the above information.)


  D. Damage and Casualties
  ------------------------

     Press reports referred to the damage on Rodrigues as being "severe"
  or "catastrophic", but I've not been able to locate much specific
  information.  One report noted that 85% of the power network was
  damaged, and there were other reports of severe damage to power and
  telephone lines.   Damage from Kalunde was reportedly worse than that
  caused by Tropical Cyclone Bella in January, 1991, which passed 25 nm
  west of the island and left a trail of destruction.   Fortunately, no
  deaths have been reported due to the cyclone.

  (Report written by Gary Padgett)

  *************************************************************************

  NORTHWEST AUSTRALIA/SOUTHEAST INDIAN OCEAN (AUW) - From 90E to 135E

  Activity for March:  2 tropical cyclones of storm intensity


                        Sources of Information
                        ----------------------

     The primary sources of tracking and intensity information for
  Northwest Australia/Southeast Indian Ocean tropical cyclones are 
  the warnings and advices issued by the Tropical Cyclone Warning
  Centres at Perth, Western Australia, and Darwin, Northern Territory. 
  References to sustained winds imply a 10-minute averaging period
  unless otherwise stated.

     In the companion tropical cyclone tracks file, I occasionally
  annotate positions from warnings issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning
  Center (JTWC) of the U. S. Air Force and Navy, located at Pearl
  Harbor, Hawaii, when they differ from the Australian centres' coor-
  dinates by usually 40-50 nm or more.  The JTWC warnings are also the
  source of the 1-minute average maximum sustained wind values included
  in the tracks file.   Additionally, information describing details of
  satellite imagery and atmospheric circulation features included in
  the narratives is often gleaned from the JTWC warnings.


                Northwest Australia/Southeast Indian Ocean
                       Tropical Activity for March
                ------------------------------------------

     Two tropical cyclones were named between longitudes 90E and 135E
  during March.  Harriet formed well south of Java very early in the month,
  and initially moved eastward to a position north of westernmost Western
  Australia.  The system then moved southward toward the coast, but
  performed an inverse recurvature southwestward and remained offshore.
  During the second week of March, Tropical Cyclone Craig formed northwest
  of Darwin and pursued an unusual eastward course, crossing Melville
  Island, then skimming along the northern coastline of the Northern
  Territory before trekking southeastward and eventually making landfall
  along the Gulf Coast of the Cape York Peninsula.  Very interestingly,
  Harriet and Craig were analyzed as rather strong tropical storms by the
  Australian TCWCs with both reaching peak 10-min avg intensities of
  55 kts (equivalent to a 1-min avg MSW of about 63 kts), whereas JTWC's
  peak MSW for both systems was only 35 kts.    Also, as the month of
  March began, former Tropical Cyclone Graham, which had made landfall
  southwest of Broome late on 28 February, was dissipating over Western
  Australia.  

     The reports on Tropical Cyclones Harriet and Craig follow.  Simon
  Clarke, of Cleveland, Queensland, wrote the summary for Craig.  A
  special thanks to Simon for writing the report.



                        TROPICAL CYCLONE HARRIET
                                 (TC-21S)
                               2 - 11 March
              --------------------------------------------

  A. Storm Origins
  ----------------

     A Tropical Weather Outlook issued by the Perth TCWC on 1 March noted
  that a 1005-mb LOW was located about 175 nm west-southwest of Christmas
  Island, drifting slowly eastward.  The system was given a moderate
  chance of developing into a tropical cyclone after a couple of days.
  The next day the LOW was located approximately 225 nm south-southeast of
  Christmas Island, still moving east-southeastward under the steering
  influence of a low to mid-level equatorial ridge to the north.  At 0600
  UTC JTWC initiated warnings on TC-21S, estimating the MSW (1-min avg)
  at 35 kts.  The intensity was based on CI estimates of 30 kts and a
  02/0006 UTC TRMM pass which revealed improving organization.   The
  system maintained a well-defined circulation, as evidenced in microwave
  imagery, although convection weakened some later on the 2nd.  At 2200
  UTC Perth began issuing gale warnings on the LOW in anticipation of its
  developing into a tropical cyclone.

     By 0600 UTC on 3 March the system had reached a point approximately
  500 nm north-northwest of Learmonth, Western Australia.  Movement was
  toward the east at 8 kts and convection was increasing once more near
  the center.  At 1600 UTC the Perth bulletins began to include warnings
  for a band of gales well to the north of the LLCC.  The JTWC warning at
  1800 UTC noted that TC-21S was a small, fairly symmetrical system.
  The LLCC was underneath a CDO, but development was being impaired by
  the entrainment of drier air from the Australian landmass to the south-
  east and by the restriction of inflow by the Indonesian islands to the
  north.


  B. Track and Intensity History
  ------------------------------

     At 0400 UTC on 4 March, the Perth TCWC named the system Tropical
  Cyclone Harriet, located about 450 nm north-northwest of Onslow and
  moving slowly southeastward.  The intensity was estimated at 45 kts.
  (JTWC's 1-min avg MSW never rose above 35 kts throughout the lifetime
  of Harriet.)   Harriet's center passed about 420 nm north of Learmonth
  at 1800 UTC, still moving slowly southeastward.  Perth lowered the
  MSW to 35 kts at 04/2200 UTC, and JTWC dropped their intensity to 30 kts
  for a 12-hour period beginning at 1200 UTC on 5 March.  Deep convection
  had decreased in areal coverage, likely due to continued entrainment of
  drier air in conjunction with restricted low-level inflow from the
  north.   By late on the 5th the convection associated with the LLCC had
  re-intensified some; Perth and JTWC accordingly upped their respective
  intensity estimates to 45 and 35 kts.

     Tropical Cyclone Harriet reached the easternmost point of its track
  around 1600 UTC on the 5th when it was located approximately 275 nm
  north-northeast of Onslow, thereafter moving slowly southward and
  eventually curving toward the west-southwest.   Convection fluctuated
  some, but the cyclone basically remained at a steady-state intensity
  for about 48 hours beginning late on the 5th.  Around 1200 UTC on the
  7th of March, animated water vapor imagery and SSM/I data indicated that
  the convection near the center had increased once more, and some
  slight intensification was forecast as Harriet approached the subtropical
  ridge axis.   Whether or not this forecast verified depends on which
  agency's warnings one follows.

     At 1800 UTC Harriet was centered about 160 nm north of Learmonth and
  moving west-southwestward at only 3 kts.  There had been a slight
  decrease noted in the deep convection, and based on CI estimates of
  30 and 35 kts, JTWC lowered the intensity to 30 kts.   At 2200 UTC,
  however, Perth upped the MSW to 50 kts, and at 1000 UTC on the 8th,
  Harriet reached its peak intensity of 55 kts (10-min avg) when centered
  approximately 300 nm north-northwest of Carnarvon.   At 0000 UTC on
  9 March, JTWC issued their final warning on Harriet with the MSW
  estimated at only 25 kts.  The remarks noted that there was still some
  weak convection over the LLCC but the system was small in areal size.
  The Perth TCWC, however, maintained the intensity of Harriet at 55 kts
  until 09/0700 UTC, when an interim warning was issued lowering the MSW to
  40 kts.

     Harriet was declared to be an extratropical gale center at 1000 UTC
  when located about 325 nm west-northwest of Carnarvon.  After losing its
  tropical features, the storm, which for several days had been moving
  west-southwestward roughly parallel to the Western Australian coast-
  line, turned southward and then southeastward.   The final gale warning
  from Perth at 0100 UTC on 11 March placed the 45-kt gale center about
  260 nm south-southwest of Perth, or just off the southwestern corner of
  Australia, moving southeastward at 30 kts.


  C. Damage and Casualties
  ------------------------

     No damage or casualties are known to have resulted from Tropical
  Cyclone Harriet.

  (Report written by Gary Padgett)



                        TROPICAL CYCLONE CRAIG
                              (TC-24S)
                            7 - 12 March
              ------------------------------------------

  A. Storm Origins          
  ----------------

     Craig was the first tropical cyclone of the 2002/2003 season to be 
  named by the Northern Territory Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre at
  Darwin.

     A cluster of thunderstorms embedded in the monsoon trough was 
  identified in the far northeastern Joseph Bonaparte Gulf as early as 
  7 March 2003, and this cluster was to develop further while drifting
  toward the north.   On 8 March, the first Tropical Cyclone Advice was
  issued by the Bureau of Meteorology, Darwin, for the developing tropical
  LOW located 90 nautical miles west-northwest of Darwin and moving north-
  ward at 3 knots under the influence of the mid-level equatorial westerly
  steering flow.   Organization was improving with conditions favourable
  for further development.     The tropical LOW continued to improve in
  structure while steadily intensifying.  Overnight, the LOW moved in a
  clockwise loop west of Bathurst Island, and by 09/0500 UTC the system
  was upgraded to tropical cyclone status and named Craig.


  B. Track and Intensity History
  ------------------------------

     At the time of naming, the slow-moving Tropical Cyclone Craig was
  centred in the Timor Sea about 75 nautical miles northwest of Cape
  Fourcroy, or 140 nautical miles northwest of Darwin, with a central
  pressure of 992 hPa.  Craig was to commence a track generally in an
  easterly and then east-southeasterly direction in the near-equatorial
  westerly steering flow while slowly intensifying.  By 10/1200 UTC Craig
  was located in the Timor Sea only about 15 nautical miles northeast of
  Snake Bay, Melville Island, with a central pressure of 985 hPa, moving
  east-southeastward at 5 knots.  The cyclone subsequently crossed the
  northeastern tip of Melville Island with the MSW estimated at 50 knots
  (10-minute average).   High tides and heavy rains caused flooding in
  low-lying areas.

     Craig emerged in the Van Dieman Gulf and continued to intensify, 
  reaching a peak intensity of 55 knots and a minimum central pressure
  of 980 hPa at 11/0000 UTC prior to making landfall near the base of
  the Coburg Peninsula about 50 nautical miles southeast of Cape Don, or
  45 nautical miles northwest of Oenpelli.  The cyclone brought destructive
  winds of 55 knots, heavy rains and abnormally high tides to the coastal
  areas where the centre moved onshore.  (Editor's Note:  It should be
  pointed out that JTWC's estimated 1-minute average MSW for Craig never
  exceeded 35 knots at anytime during the storm's history.)
 
     Following the coastal crossing, Craig began to gradually weaken due
  to land interaction whilst skirting the far Northern Territory coast-
  line, all the while gradually accelerating on an easterly path under the
  influence of the low-level near-equatorial ridge.   Craig was also 
  becoming increasing affected by poor outflow conditions and increasing
  vertical wind shear.  Nonetheless, Craig was able to sustain tropical
  cyclone intensity, albeit weakened, until final re-emergence over the
  Gulf of Carpentaria close to the far northeastern tip of the Northern
  Territory at 2000 UTC on 11 March.

     Tropical Cyclone Craig accelerated and ultimately moved at 22 kts
  toward the southeast and finally south-southeast whilst crossing the
  Gulf of Carpentaria.   Craig encountered considerable difficulty in
  regaining structure under strong upper-level wind shear.  The asymmetric
  wind and rain structure of Craig appears to have affected its ability to
  remain a deep system under a strong thermal gradient.   QuikScat winds
  showed that strong winds under the rainband were restricted mostly to
  the western flank with a 70-knot south-southeast wind indicated near
  15.5S, 140.7E.
 
     As the cyclone approached the eastern coast of the Gulf of 
  Carpentaria, the apparent centre visible on radar continued moving 
  towards the southeast.  However, the low-level centre came to a halt 
  and remained virtually stationary over the next 12 hours.   This 
  asymmetry near the centre in all likelihood gave the low-level 
  circulation a northwesterly component of motion.
  
    Craig finally crossed the Queensland coast at 12/0600 UTC just south
  of Kowanyama as a 985 hPa storm with the MSW estimated at 50 knots.  Upon
  crossing the coast, Craig lost all forward momentum and floundered close 
  to the coast.      The entire upper-level structure of Craig was
  subsequently seen to shear away, leaving a cloud free LLCC over land
  close to the southeastern Gulf of Carpentaria during the night of
  12 March.


  C. Meteorological Observations
  ------------------------------

     Following are a few observations passed along by Michael Foley of
  the Darwin TCWC--a special thanks to Michael for sending them. (All
  sustained winds represent a 10-minute averaging period.)

  (1) McCluer Island reported sustained winds of 40 kts, gusting to
      52 kts, at 11/0510 UTC with a SLP of 996.8 hPa.

  (2) South Goulburn Island at 11/0700 UTC recorded winds of 40 kts with
      a peak gust of 57 kts.  The minimum SLP of 987.6 hPa occurred at
      0600 UTC.

  (3) At Maningrida a 20-minute calm was experienced.  The strongest winds
      were southerlies following the calm; many trees were felled pointing
      east-northeastward.  The minimum pressure recorded was 987.7 hPa.

  (4) Milingimbi reported a peak gust of 42 kts at 11/1500 UTC (the
      sustained wind at the time was only 23 kts), whereas the minimum
      SLP of 991.8 hPa was recorded at 1330 UTC.

  (5) Elcho Island recorded sustained winds of 35 kts, gusting to 47 kts,
      at 11/1710 UTC with a SLP of 993.4 hPa.

  (6) At Nhulunbuy the peak gust of 46 kts along with a 33-kt sustained
      wind was recorded at 11/2134 UTC.  The minimum SLP of 992.2 hPa
      occurred earlier at 2000 UTC.

  (7) A marine pilot from Brisbane was guiding vessel C6OZ3, anchored
      130 nm west of Booby Island (10.6S/141.9E) from 11/1400 through
      12/0700 UTC.   The pilot stated that he experienced sustained
      winds of 55 kts with gusts over 60 kts and a 10-metre swell.
      The vessel was apparently located under a rain band well east of
      Craig's centre.


  D. Damage and Casualties
  ------------------------

    There were no casualties as a consequence of Tropical Cyclone Craig,
  and damage was relatively inconsequential, given that the storm crossed
  the coast in relatively sparsely populated areas.  Slight damage was
  restricted to power lines and vegetation in the Tiwi Islands, minor
  structural damage on Melville Island, and widespread but relatively
  minor damage to vegetation in other areas of the Northern Territory.
  
     Some minor damage was also reported to small craft in the 
  northwestern Gulf of Carpentaria and to the Alcan Plant at Nhulunbuy. 
  On the Queensland coast, Craig's effects were of little consequence 
  and restricted to widespread but minor damage to native vegetation 
  and moderate to locally heavy rainfalls.   At Kowanyama an uprooted 
  tree damaged one house, and numerous trees and branches fell in 
  Kowanyama and Pormuraaw.  Roads were cut throughout the region.  Weipa,
  which was well to the north of the cyclone's centre, recorded a storm
  surge of 1.1 metres, significant wave heights of 3 metres, and peak wave 
  heights of 5 metres.  (A special thanks to Michael Foley and Jeff
  Callaghan for passing along information on the effects of Craig.)

  (Report written by Simon Clarke)

  *************************************************************************

  NORTHEAST AUSTRALIA/CORAL SEA (AUE) - From 135E to 160E

  Activity for March:  1 tropical cyclone of storm intensity **
                       1 severe tropical cyclone (hurricane) ++

  ** - system formed west of 135E and moved eastward into area
  ++ - system became very intense after moving east of 160E


                        Sources of Information
                        ----------------------

     The primary sources of tracking and intensity information for
  Northeast Australia/Coral Sea tropical cyclones are the warnings
  and advices issued by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres at
  Brisbane, Queensland, and Darwin, Northern Territory, and on very
  infrequent occasions, by the centre at Port Moresby, Papua New
  Guinea.  References to sustained winds imply a 10-minute averaging
  period unless otherwise stated.

     In the companion tropical cyclone tracks file, I occasionally
  annotate positions from warnings issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning
  Center (JTWC) of the U. S. Air Force and Navy, located at Pearl
  Harbor, Hawaii, when they differ from the Australian centres' coor-
  dinates by usually 40-50 nm or more.  The JTWC warnings are also the
  source of the 1-minute average maximum sustained wind values included
  in the tracks file.   Additionally, information describing details of
  satellite imagery and atmospheric circulation features included in
  the narratives is often gleaned from the JTWC warnings.


                       Northeast Australia/Coral Sea
                        Tropical Activity for March
                       -----------------------------

     Two tropical cyclones were active in the region between 135E and 160E
  during March.  Tropical Cyclone Erica formed on 4 March off the Queens-
  land coast.  The system remained quasi-stationary for a day or two, then
  began drifting slowly northward and north-northeastward.  Erica weakened
  to below gale force late on the 6th and warnings were dropped.  The LOW
  continued drifting north-northeastward, reaching a point southwest of
  the Solomon Islands by the 8th.  The system had become better organized,
  so gale warnings were re-initiated at 08/0600 UTC.  Erica was renamed
  as a tropical cyclone on the 10th, and reached severe tropical cyclone
  (hurricane) intensity on the 11th.  The cyclone gradually began to
  accelerate toward the southeast and moved out of Brisbane's AOR around
  0600 UTC on 12 March.

     The other system was Tropical Cyclone Craig which formed near Darwin
  on 9 March.  Craig moved eastward across Melville Island and the northern
  coast of the Northern Territory, emerging into the Gulf of Carpentaria
  on the 11th.  Craig subsequently accelerated southeastward across the
  Gulf and made landfall near the base of the Cape York Peninsula on the
  12th.  The complete report on Tropical Cyclone Craig can be found in the
  previous section of this summary covering the Northwest Australia/
  Southeast Indian Ocean region.

     The report on Severe Tropical Cyclone Erica, authored by Simon Clarke,
  follows.  A special thanks to Simon for writing the report.



                         TROPICAL CYCLONE ERICA
                           (TC-22P / TD-13F)
                              2 - 16 March
               ------------------------------------------

  A. Storm Origins
  ----------------

     Erica was the first tropical cyclone of the 2002/2003 season to 
  be named in the Queensland Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre's area of 
  responsibility.  However, it was New Caledonia that was to bear the 
  brunt of the cyclone as it carved its swath eastward over the Coral 
  Sea to become the strongest cyclone to affect that nation in recent 
  history.  Previously, Koumac, on the northwestern tip of the main 
  island of New Caledonia, recorded 100 knots during the passage of 
  Tropical Cyclone Harry in February, 1989, and Noumea in the southwest 
  recorded a peak gust of 86 knots during Tropical Cyclone Colleen in 
  1969.  Erica's winds were to exceed both these measurements.

     Long-lived Erica can be traced back to a tropical LOW embedded in
  the monsoon trough north of the Tiwi Islands (Northern Territory, 
  Australia) on 13 February 2003.  This monsoon depression moved south- 
  southwest into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and crossed the coast near 
  the Western Australia/Northern Territory border two days later without 
  reaching tropical cyclone status.    For the following three weeks 
  the monsoon LOW, readily identifiable in satellite imagery, trekked 
  across the interior of Australia, passing to the south of Alice 
  Springs and then back towards the north to the Mount Isa district of 
  Queensland.    By 1 March, the monsoon LOW had commenced an easterly
  path and entered the Coral Sea near the Whitsunday Islands early on
  the 3rd of March.

     Jeff Callaghan from the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology provided 
  the following commentary : 

     "The LOW moved seawards to the east, initially weakening before 
  intensifying again.  Frederick Reef AWS began reporting MSW 10-minute 
  gales of 34 knots and MSLP 1004.0 hPa at 03/2300 UTC.    The QuikScat
  data showed the centre near 20S, 152E, well-removed from the gales.
  These gales were located in an area of heavy rain, which appeared to
  be associated with a zone of warm air advection generated as a thermal 
  trough at 700 hPa developed over the region.  At this time the system 
  was situated in 15-knot southwesterly shear, based on the CIMSS data."

     This shear then weakened and the LOW became more vertically-aligned,
  being upgraded and code-named Erica at 04/0600UTC when located near
  20.5S, 154.0E, or about 425 nautical miles east-southeast of Townsville.

  
  B. Track and Intensity History
  ------------------------------

     Soon after being named, Erica was embedded in an elongated north-
  east to southwest cloud structure.  Under the influence of a low to 
  mid-level ridge to the south, Erica's LLCC was steered back towards the 
  west-northwest, and thence on a path generally in a north-northwesterly 
  and finally northerly direction while losing its upper-level cloud 
  structure against the prevailing direction of the moderate upper-level
  wind shear environment.   Erica eventually lost cyclone status at 2230 
  UTC on 7 March.     During its initial life as a named cyclone, Erica
  peaked with a MSW (10-minute average) of 55 knots.

     The LLCC of the remnant depression meandered slowly to the northeast
  and thence eastward for the following six days, gradually assuming a
  position to the near south of the Solomon Islands.  During this time the
  tropical depression regained an upper-level cloud structure under
  improving conditions favouring redevelopment as wind shear relaxed and
  an upper-level trough developed over eastern Australia.   This slow
  moving upper-level trough ultimately set the system on its path toward
  the southeast.

     Eventually Erica was renamed as a tropical cyclone at 10/1800 UTC
  whilst located at 12.7S, 158.9E, or about 200 nautical miles south-
  southwest of Honiara on Guadalcanal.   Erica initially commenced a slow
  trek generally to the south and south-southeast and maintained this track
  for the following two days as it gained strength, reaching hurricane
  intensity at 1800 UTC on 11 March.    By 13/0600 UTC Erica was located
  near 20.1S, 161.8E, or approximately 300 nautical miles west-northwest
  of Noumea, New Caledonia, moving southeastward at 8 knots as it was
  influenced by the weak mid-level ridge to its east.    At this time,
  Erica reached its peak intensity of 915 hPa with an estimated MSW of
  115 knots close to its centre.  (The peak 1-minute average MSW estimate
  from JTWC was 140 knots.)     Erica's eye had shrunk in diameter and
  become symmetrical.  Outflow remained good in all quadrants; however,
  UW-CIMSS charts depicted increasing upper-level shear to the south of
  the cyclone.

     By 13/1800 UTC Erica had reached a point near 21.1S, 164.4E, or just
  to the south of the far northwestern tip of New Caledonia.  Erica's core
  closely parallelled the southwestern coast of the nation, crossing over
  the extreme southern end of the island.    The cyclone was rapidly
  accelerating in forward motion toward the east-southeast, and also
  beginning to rapidly weaken under the influence of increasing shear
  as it crossed the far southern tip of New Caledonia and the Iles des
  Pins.    By 15/1200 UTC, Erica had undergone complete extratropical
  transition.  The remnant depression continued to move rapidly to the
  east-southeast and the final warning was issued by the Wellington (New
  Zealand) office at 16/1800 UTC as the remains of Erica passed 33S, 167W
  (far to the east of New Zealand).


  C. Observations
  ----------------

     The following (slightly edited) observations were provided by Jeff 
  Callaghan of the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology in relation to 
  Erica's pre-life impact on northern Queensland:
  
     "On the morning of 2 March 2003 very strong westerly winds were 
  reported from areas north of Cairns airport and the Barron River up 
  as far as Cape Tribulation (46 km north of Port Douglas).  Wind damage 
  occurred between 5 AM and 8 AM local time (1900 UTC and 2200 UTC).
  Cairns Meteorological Office received numerous telephone calls describing
  the damage caused by these winds.      A Park Ranger from the Cape
  Tribulation area estimated the winds to be 40-50 knots and gusting to
  approximately 70 knots from the west.    He described the damage as
  significant with trees uprooted, large branches broken--crushing a
  car--and leaves stripped from trees.

     "In the Mossman and Port Douglas areas reports included leaves being 
  stripped from trees, trees being blown almost horizontal to the ground,
  large trees being blown over and boats dragging their moorings.   One
  large tree fell on a house at Oak Beach (15 km south-southeast of Port
  Douglas).    Power was lost in several areas due to power lines being
  brought down by trees and branches.    The northern beach suburbs of
  Cairns were also affected with similar damage.

     "The low-pressure system which would develop into Tropical Cyclone 
  Erica was centred just south of Townsville at 1100 UTC 1 March 2003, 
  but extended an elongated trough system just to the west of the Cairns
  region.   By 2000 UTC on 1 March this trough had moved just offshore.

     "A strong pressure gradient had developed between Mareeba (elevation 
  471.9 m) and Cairns (elevation 3 m) by 2000 UTC 1 March.    The two 
  stations are 38 km apart and the pressure difference was 1.8 hPa.  The 
  MSL charts showed a ridge developing at Mareeba and a trough developing 
  along the coast north of Cairns by 2000 UTC 1 March.   A very strong
  pressure gradient was evident parallel to the coast and ranges north-
  northwest of Cairns.
 
     "It was calculated that a 1.8 hPa drop over the 38 km between Mareeba 
  and Cairns could generate a geostrophic wind of 92.75 m/s (50.4 knots)
  for the given temperatures.  Although this is ridiculously large, and
  due to the tightly curved isobars in the region the geostrophic
  approximation is invalid, it does serve to show that a significant
  pressure gradient had developed between Cairns and Mareeba by 2000 UTC
  on 1 March 2003.

     "The winds over the Cairns region during this period were deep
  westerlies, and they indicated the passage of a trough system between 
  1700 UTC and 2300 UTC (during the period of damaging winds).
 
     "The low-pressure centre was located just offshore near 20 degrees
  south at 0200 UTC 2 March, and by 02/1100 UTC the LOW had moved farther
  out to sea.   By 2000 UTC on 2 March the LOW was moving back towards the
  coast as a strong pressure gradient developed along the coast to the
  south.    This motion back towards the coast was influenced by deep
  ridging which had developed south of the LOW up to 500 hPa by 2300 UTC
  on 2 March.
  
     "This enhanced pressure gradient between the LOW and the coast ridge 
  produced gale to storm-force winds at the Hamilton Island AWS (WMO 94368 
  near 20.2S, 148.6E).    The first gale registered was 150/39 knots 
  (10-minute mean) at 1711 UTC 2 March.  The maximum 10-minute mean wind 
  at the AWS was 140/49 knots at 02/1718 UTC when the lowest MSLP of
  999.9 hPa was recorded.  The final gale observation was 150/36 knots at
  0000 UTC on 3 March."
 
     For the ensuing seven days Erica and its associated remnant 
  depression travelled across the northern Coral Sea to assume a 
  position to the near south of the Solomon Islands.  The following 
  observations are from the second phase of the regenerated Erica as
  the cyclone moved alongside New Caledonia.

     The local press reported that a weather station at Noumea recorded
  a maximum 10-minute sustained wind of 78 knots with peak gusts exceeding
  108 knots.  As the cyclone was close in and parallel to the west coast
  north of Noumea, it is likely that winds were probably much stronger in
  some areas to the north.

     The centre of Tropical Cyclone Erica passed very near Noumea which
  recorded a minimum SLP of 968.8 hPa at 0000 UTC 14 March.   The station
  of Iles des Pins (22.6S, 167.5E) recorded a minimum SLP of 963.7 hPa
  at 14/0300 UTC and a maximum gust of 103 knots between 0300 UTC and 
  0600 UTC.

     Erica had passed its peak intensity prior to striking New Caledonia, 
  dropping from a 140-knot cyclone to 100 knots in only a few hours (this
  based on JTWC's warnings).  This has been put down partly to an eyewall
  replacement cycle, gradually increasing vertical wind shear and
  interruption of the eyewall replacement cycle by New Caledonia's
  terrain.


  D. Damage and Casualties
  ------------------------

     Erica's main impact was on the main island of New Caledonia.  
  Although the cyclone weakened markedly before reaching New Caledonia, 
  it remained an intense storm with wind gusts officially reported in 
  excess of 108 knots for the first time on the island.  Erica caused 
  extensive damage along the main island's west coast and in the capital, 
  Noumea.  Roofs were torn off, trees were uprooted, power and phone 
  lines were cut, and roads were closed.  Many root crops were destroyed 
  in the Northern Province; however, the water supply system was left 
  largely intact.  Erica left up to 1000 homeless as well as seriously 
  damaging public buildings.  Two fatalities were reported with nine 
  people seriously injured and over one hundred with less serious 
  injuries.

     The small towns of Bourail, Kone, Pouembout, Koumac and Voh in the 
  North Province suffered extensive damage including loss of electricity
  and telecommunications.  In the small village of Pohe, up to 90 percent
  of crops were destroyed.   Extensive damage was also reported in the
  southern village of Yate near the main hydro-electric dam, where about
  half of the population was left without shelter.

     Students were sent home prior to the cyclone's arrival with all
  schools on the island closed during the height of the storm.  Schools
  sustained damage estimated at more than US$15 million.   Of the
  66 secondary schools, only seventeen were able to function on Monday
  following the cyclone, mainly due to failed power and water supplies and
  for other safety reasons.  New Caledonia's only university, the UNC, was
  also badly damaged.  However, all primary schools and kindergartens were
  functional on Monday following the cyclone.

     The French government immediately released more than US$25 million
  to rebuild 1000 homes in New Caledonia destroyed by the cyclone.  The
  minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigette Giardin, expected
  a further contribution of US$17 million to meet the full cost of the
  emergency housing program.  On Sunday, a CASA military transport plane
  based in Tahiti, French Polynesia, another French Pacific territory,
  ferried 1.5 tons of emergency supplies to New Caledonia.    It also
  carried a group of ten military civil engineers who were sent to help
  New Caledonia's authorities with the post-storm clean up, secure
  buildings, and remove debris from the roads.

     Geoff Mackley's website contains a hair-raising account of his
  adventures in New Caledonia during the height of Tropical Cyclone
  Erica as well as several pictures of the cyclone-spawned destruction.
  The URL is:

     http://www.rambocam.com/erica.html>

     Additional articles on the effects of Tropical Cyclone Erica in
  New Caledonia can be found at the following URL:

     http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/vLND>

  (Report written by Simon Clarke with significant contributions by
  Jeff Callaghan of the Brisbane TCWC)

  *************************************************************************

  SOUTH PACIFIC (SPA) - South Pacific Ocean East of Longitude 160E

  Activity for March:  1 tropical depression
                       2 tropical cyclones of hurricane intensity **

  ** - one of these originated in Brisbane's AOR and moved eastward
       across 160E


                        Sources of Information
                        ----------------------

     The primary sources of tracking and intensity information for
  South Pacific tropical cyclones are the warnings and advisories
  issued by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres at Nadi, Fiji (for
  waters north of latitude 25S), and Wellington, New Zealand (for
  waters south of latitude 25S).  References to sustained winds imply
  a 10-minute averaging period unless otherwise stated.

     In the companion tropical cyclone tracks file, I occasionally
  annotate positions from warnings issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning
  Center (JTWC) of the U. S. Air Force and Navy, located at Pearl
  Harbor, Hawaii, when they differ from the Southern Hemisphere
  centres' coordinates by usually 40-50 nm or more.  The JTWC warnings
  are also the source of the 1-minute average maximum sustained wind
  values included in the tracks file.    Additionally, information
  describing details of satellite imagery and atmospheric circulation
  features included in the narratives is often gleaned from the JTWC
  warnings.


                South Pacific Tropical Activity for March
                -----------------------------------------

     The TCWC at Nadi, Fiji, issued advisories on three tropical systems
  during March.  A large area of disturbed weather in the monsoon trough
  early in the month spawned two distinct circulations, numbered as TD-11F
  and TD-12F.   Tropical Depression 11F was first identified on 6 March
  approximately 150 nm northwest of Fiji.  The system remained weak and
  drifted west-southwestward over the next couple of days, being last
  mentioned on the 8th about 200 nm south of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  This
  depression was in between the intensifying Tropical Cyclone Erica to the
  west and the developing Tropical Cyclone Eseta (12F) to the east.
  Eseta was named on the 10th west of Fiji and pursued an initial southward
  track, later curving to the southeast and eventually almost due eastward.
  Eseta surprisingly intensified very rapidly into an intense tropical
  cyclone as it crossed the International Dateline.  The storm brushed the
  southernmost island of the Kingdom of Tonga, causing some relatively
  minor damage.

     The most intense cyclone of the month was a visitor from Brisbane's
  AOR.  Tropical Cyclone Erica entered Nadi's AOR on 12 March as a rapidly
  intensifying system.  Erica reached a peak intensity of 115 kts (140 kts
  1-min avg MSW from JTWC) on the 13th as it was tracking toward New
  Caledonia.  The storm began to weaken as it approached the island but
  was still quite potent as it paralleled New Caledonia's western coast
  and then crossed the southern tip of the island.  The complete report
  on Tropical Cyclone Erica can be found in the previous section of this
  summary covering the Northeast Australia/Coral Sea region.

     The report on Tropical Cyclone Eseta, written by Simon Clarke,
  follows.  A special thanks to Simon for his assistance.



                      TROPICAL CYCLONE ESETA
                        (TD-12F / TC-25P)
                           7 - 14 March
            ------------------------------------------

  A. Storm Origins
  ----------------

     An area of disturbed tropical weather was first identified on 6 March 
  in the general vicinity of and just northeast of Vanuatu, with two weak
  centres of circulation within the monsoon trough (TD-11F and TD-12F).
  By 9 March TD-12F had become the dominant centre and was the depression
  that would develop into the seventh named cyclone and the sixth intense
  tropical cyclone of the 2002/2003 South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season.

     Prior to development, TD-12F was slow-moving, and despite the presence
  of a favourable environment for development consisting of high SSTs 
  of 30 C, weak to moderate shear and a position to the west of an upper-
  level (250 hPa) outflow centre, it lacked spin at low levels.   The 
  circulation moved initially towards the west at about 5 knots, showing 
  diurnal fluctuations in convective cover.  All the while, organization 
  was improving with convective features becoming permanent with a 
  detached area of gales developing in the northeastern sector of the
  system.

     By March 10/1730 UTC, TD-12F was located near 16.9S, 172.0E, or
  approximately 300 nautical miles west of Viti Levu (Fiji's largest
  island).  The central pressure had fallen to 995 hPa and 35-knot winds
  had developed nearer the centre.  Therefore, TD-12F was upgraded to
  Tropical Cyclone Eseta at this time.


  B. Track and Intensity History
  ------------------------------
  
     Initially, the western periphery of the mid-level ridge to the
  east of Eseta steered the storm on a south-southeasterly path at
  7 knots.    Eseta underwent steady development under favourable 
  environmental conditions, and by 12/0000 UTC had attained hurricane
  status with satellite imagery revealing a ragged (banding) eye.  The
  storm was then centred roughly 250 nautical miles southwest of Fiji.
  Eseta continued to travel towards the southeast with an ever-increasing
  forward momentum.  

     Tropical Cyclone Eseta underwent explosive intensification on
  12 March with the estimated central pressure falling 40 hPa--from
  970 to 930 hPa--in only six hours!    Peak intensity was achieved at
  12/1800 UTC with Eseta located near 21.9S, 179.9E, or about 250 nautical
  miles south-southeast of Fiji.      At this time Eseta had a central
  pressure of 930 hPa and was producing maximum 10-minute average winds
  of 95 knots close to its centre.  This intensity was maintained for
  approximately twelve hours as the cyclone continued on an easterly path
  at 20 knots along the southern periphery of the mid-level ridge to the
  north.  (Editor's Note:  JTWC's peak 1-minute average MSW for Eseta was
  110 knots, which agrees very closely with Fiji's 95-knot 10-minute
  mean MSW.  Interestingly, JTWC's peak was not reached until Nadi had
  scaled back the intensity a bit to 90 knots.)

     Weakening was to be very rapid as Eseta encountered strong vertical 
  wind shear.  Convection became elongated (northwest to southeast) and
  the eye became cloud-filled and indistinct.  By 14/0150 UTC the LLCC 
  had become increasingly exposed with the deep convection displaced to
  the east.  By 14/0000 UTC Eseta, moving at 25 knots, had passed into the
  RSMC Wellington's area of responsibility and soon lost tropical cyclone 
  characteristics and status about 600 nautical miles south of Rarotonga.
  The remnant depression was subsequently absorbed into a frontal boundary
  to the south and was no longer a surface synoptic feature by 15/0000 UTC.


  C. Damage and Casualties
  ------------------------

    Tropical Cyclone Eseta spent its life at sea, passing well to the south
  of Fiji and somewhat closer to the southern islands of Tonga.  The Fijian
  press reported heavy rains and flash flooding in parts of the Western
  Division as Eseta passed well to the south of the nation.  The storm was
  rapidly weakening while passing just to the south of the main Tongan
  Island group.    Eseta hit the small southern Tongan island of Eua,
  destroying fruit-bearing trees (breadfruit and bananas and the like),
  as well as the food crop, kava.  There are no known reports of casualties
  as a direct consequence of Tropical Cyclone Eseta.

  (Report written by Simon Clarke)

  *************************************************************************

  AUTHOR'S NOTE:  This summary should be considered a very preliminary 
  overview of the tropical cyclones that occur in each month. The cyclone
  tracks (provided separately) will generally be based upon operational
  warnings issued by the various tropical cyclone warning centers.  The
  information contained therein may differ somewhat from the tracking and
  intensity information obtained from a "best-track" file which is based
  on a detailed post-seasonal analysis of all available data. Information
  on where to find official "best-track" files from the various warning
  centers will be passed along from time to time.

    The track files are not being sent via e-mail.  They can be retrieved
  from the archive sites listed below.  (Note: I do have a limited e-mail
  distribution list for the track files.    If anyone wishes to receive
  these via e-mail, please send me a message.)

    Both the summaries and the track files are standard text files
  created in DOS editor.  Download to disk and use a viewer such as
  Notepad or DOS editor to view the files.

     The first summary in this series covered the month of October,
  1997.   Back issues can be obtained from the following websites
  (courtesy of Michael Bath, Michael V. Padua, Michael Pitt, and
  Chris Landsea):

    http://australiasevereweather.com/cyclones/>
    http://www.typhoon2000.ph> OR http://64.235.42.210>
    http://mpittweather.com>
    ftp://ftp.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/pub/landsea/padgett/>


     Another website where much information about tropical cyclones may
  be found is the website for the UK Meteorological Office.  Their site
  contains a lot of statistical information about tropical cyclones
  globally on a monthly basis.  The URL is:

    http://www.met-office.gov.uk/sec2/sec2cyclone/sec2cyclone.html>


                    TROPICAL CYCLONE REPORTS AVAILABLE

     JTWC now has available on its website the complete Annual Tropical 
  Cyclone Report (ATCR) for 2001 (2000-2001 season for the Southern 
  Hemisphere).  ATCRs for earlier years are available also.  Recently
  added was the report for the Southern Hemisphere 2001-2002 season.

     The URL is:  http://199.10.200.33/jtwc.html>

     Also, TPC/NHC has available on its webpage nice "technicolor"
  tracking charts for the 2002 Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific
  tropical cyclones; also, preliminary storm reports for all the 2002
  Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific cyclones are now available, as
  well as track charts and reports on storms from earlier years.

     The URL is:  http://www.nhc.noaa.gov>


     A special thanks to Michael Bath of McLeans Ridges, New South Wales,
  Australia, for assisting me with proofreading the summaries.


  PREPARED BY

  Gary Padgett
  E-mail:  garyp@alaweb.com
  Phone:  334-222-5327

  John Wallace  (Eastern North Pacific, North Indian Ocean, Western
                 Gulf of Mexico)
  E-mail:  dosidicus@aol.com

  Kevin Boyle  (Eastern Atlantic, Western Northwest Pacific, South
                China Sea)
  E-mail:  newchapelobservatory@btinternet.com

  Simon Clarke  (Northeast Australia/Coral Sea, South Pacific)
  E-mail:  saclarke@iprimus.com.au

  *************************************************************************
  *************************************************************************

Document: summ0303.htm
Updated: 27th December 2006

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