Tropical Cyclone Laurence developed in the Timor Sea on December 13 and underwent rapid intensification on December 15 to become a category 4 storm that packed winds of up to 215 kmph (132 mph) as it skirted the sparsely populated northwest coast of Australia. Laurence subsequently weakened slightly and, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), it made landfall near Kuri Bay on the north Kimberley coast in Western Australia State as a category 2 cyclone earlier today.
The JTWC said the storm is expected to continue its southern track over the next day or two as it moves further inland. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said the cyclone was small but very intense when it came ashore.
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Reports said Laurence brought heavy rain and destructive winds to communities across north Kimberley. The BoM said communities along the north Kimberley coastline recorded wind speeds in excess of 100 kmph (60 mph) while 175 mm (7 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours. The BoM has issued a red cyclone alert for the communities of Koolan Island and Cockatoo Island while the town of Derby, Cape Leveque, One Arm Point, Lombadina and Djarindjin are under a yellow alert. Officials said Laurence is currently moving over a sparsely populated area, but Derby (population of around 4,500 people) is likely to experience strong winds and heavy rainfall within the next 24 hours.
Earlier in the week, Laurence’s outer rainbands dumped heavy rain over the city of Darwin in Northern Territory State. During a 24 hour period, Darwin recorded 250 mm (10 inches) of rainfall, exceeding the normal December monthly average. Reports said flooding and damage to power facilities, property and trees in the city was extensive.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Agence France Presse, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News, AAP Bulletins, Australian Associated Press General News
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