2003–04 Australian region cyclone season

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2003–04 Australian region cyclone season
2003-2004 Australian cyclone season summary.jpg
Season summary map
Seasonal boundaries
First system formed 6 December 2003
Last system dissipated 27 March 2004
Strongest storm
Name Fay
 • Maximum winds 215 km/h (130 mph)
(10-minute sustained)
 • Lowest pressure 910 hPa (mbar)
Seasonal statistics
Tropical lows 13
Tropical cyclones 10
Severe tropical cyclones 5
Total fatalities Unknown
Total damage Unknown
Related articles
Australian region tropical cyclone seasons
2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06

The 2003–04 Australian region cyclone season was a slightly below average tropical cyclone season. It began on 1 November 2003 and ended on 30 April 2004. The regional tropical cyclone operational plan also defines a tropical cyclone year separately from a tropical cyclone season, which runs from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004.

Tropical cyclones in this area are monitored by four Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs): the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in Perth, Darwin, and Brisbane; and TCWC Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.[1]


Severe Tropical Cyclone Jana[edit]

Category 3 severe tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 1 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
Jana 07 dec 2003 0725Z.jpg Jana 2003 track.png
Duration 6 December – 12 December
Peak intensity 155 km/h (100 mph) (10-min)  950 hPa (mbar)

Formed on 6 December and dissipated on 12 December.[2]

Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie[edit]

Category 3 severe tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 1 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
Debbie 19 dec 2003 0430Z.jpg Debbie 2003 track.png
Duration 16 December – 23 December
Peak intensity 120 km/h (75 mph) (10-min)  970 hPa (mbar)

Formed on 16 December and dissipated on 23 December. Crossed the Northern Territory coast as a Category 3.[2]

Tropical Low Ken[edit]

Tropical low (Australian scale)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Tropical Cyclone Ken 05 jan 2004 0230Z.jpg Ken 2004 track.png
Duration 1 January – 6 January
Peak intensity 75 km/h (45 mph) (10-min)  992 hPa (mbar)

Formed on 1 January 2004 and dissipated on 6 January.[3] Operationally monitored Ken to have reached tropical cyclone intensity for 24 hours, but post-analysis revealed that Ken never was a tropical cyclone.[4]

Monsoon Depression[edit]

Existed between 10 and 17 January. Caused heavy rainfall across western Queensland and New South Wales.[3]

Tropical Cyclone Linda[edit]

Category 2 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Linda 31 jan 2004 0430Z.jpg Linda 2004 track.png
Duration 28 January – 1 February
Peak intensity 95 km/h (60 mph) (10-min)  985 hPa (mbar)

Formed on 28 January and dissipated on 1 February.[3]

Tropical Cyclone Fritz[edit]

Category 2 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Fritz 12 feb 2004 0725Z.jpg Fritz 2004 track.png
Duration 10 February – 15 February
Peak intensity 95 km/h (60 mph) (10-min)  985 hPa (mbar)

A tropical low developed on 10 February in the northern Coral Sea, within an active monsoon trough. The system developed rapidly and becoming Tropical Cyclone Fritz when it was northeast of Cooktown. Fritz moved rapidly to the west, and made landfall on the northern Queensland coast with winds of 75 km/h. The storm lost its tropical character as it crossed the Cape York Peninsula and entered the Gulf of Carpentaria on 11 February. The low reintensified over the favourable conditions in the Gulf, and reached its peak with 95 km/h winds near Mornington Island. Radar imagery showed evidence of an eye as the storm passed over the island on 12 February. It then crossed over the coast onto mainland Australian and degenerated overland. The remnant travelled over Northern Territory and Western Australia, before merging with a cold front to the south of Perth.

Cyclone Fritz brought up to 309 mm of rain to the Cairns area. This led to a number of landslides, one of which caused severe property damage in Yorkeys Knob. There was flash flooding near Innisfail when 74 mm of rain fell in one hour. Fritz uprooted a number of trees on Mornington Island, but there was no other damage there. There were no casualties from the storm.[5]

Severe Tropical Cyclone Monty[edit]

Category 4 severe tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 3 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
Monty 29 feb 2004 0235Z.jpg Monty 2004 track.png
Duration 25 February – 3 March
Peak intensity 185 km/h (115 mph) (10-min)  935 hPa (mbar)

Cyclone Monty was a small cyclone that formed off the Kimberley coast around 27 February 2004. Monty then strengthened into a Category 4 cyclone as it moved parallel with the Pilbara coast. The cyclone made landfall near Mardie Station as a Category 3 cyclone on 1 March. Monty damaged several boats and caused isolated flooding.

Tropical Cyclone Evan[edit]

Category 1 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Tropical depression (SSHWS)
Tropical Cyclone Evan 01 mar 2004 0425Z.jpg Evan 2004 track.png
Duration 27 February – 4 March
Peak intensity 65 km/h (40 mph) (10-min)  991 hPa (mbar)

Formed on 27 February and dissipated on 4 March. Crossed Groote Eylandt and the Northern Territory mainland, causing flooding.[6]

Subtropical Storm[edit]

A subtropical cyclone formed on 2 March and crossed the coast in southeast Queensland on 5 March, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. A storm surge caused inundation along the coasts.[6]

Tropical Cyclone Nicky–Helma[edit]

Category 2 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 1 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
Nicky 10 mar 2004 0630Z.jpg Nicky-Helma 2004 track.png
Duration 8 March – 10 March
Peak intensity 95 km/h (60 mph) (10-min)  985 hPa (mbar)

Formed on 8 March, moved west of the region on 10 March, and was renamed Helma.[6]

Severe Tropical Cyclone Fay[edit]

Category 5 severe tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 4 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
Tropical Cyclone Fay 27 mar 2004 0220Z.jpg Fay 2004 track.png
Duration 12 March – 28 March
Peak intensity 215 km/h (130 mph) (10-min)  910 hPa (mbar)

A low pressure system formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria and moved westward into the Timor Sea; it was named Tropical Cyclone Fay on 16 March. Fay was 400 km north of Wyndham and 330 kilometres west northwest of Darwin. There were reports along the Kimberley Coast of gale force winds. On 21 March, Cyclone Fay intensified even further as the storm approached Scott Reef where significant damage occurred. Looping back towards the Kimberley coast, Fay - now a Category 3 system - approached to within 90 km of Broome on 25 March, before turning to the south-west. Broome experienced strong winds with gale-force gusts, some heavy rain and heavy seas but escaped serious damage.

Fay then headed further away from the coast on the 25th before resuming a general southerly track on the 26th. Fay crossed the Pilbara coast between the pastoral stations of Pardoo and Wallal between 8 am and 9 am WST on 27 March as a Category 4 storm with estimated maximum wind gusts of around 235 km/h near the center.[7]

The cyclone weakened as it moved inland. Little wind damage was reported from the storm despite its intensity as it made landfall in a remote part of the WA coast and consequently only impacted sparsely populated pastoral and mining areas. As the system passed close to the Yarrie mine its translation speed reduced and some 200 workers were locked down for 8 hours in two squash courts as accommodation units were overturned, water tanks "shredded" and power lines cut. Fay appears to have weakened below cyclone strength on Sunday evening (28 March) between Nullagine and Telfer.[7]

Cyclone Fay caused extensive flooding and considerable damage. Fortunately, there were no deaths.

Tropical Cyclone Grace[edit]

Category 2 tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Tropical Cyclone Grace 2004.jpg Grace 2004 track.png
Duration 20 March – 23 March
Peak intensity 95 km/h (60 mph) (10-min)  985 hPa (mbar)

Grace is mostly remembered for its effects prior to reaching cyclone status rather than during its life as an officially named tropical cyclone. A multi-centred tropical low formed adjacent to the north Queensland tropical coast near Cooktown as early as 20 March within a very active monsoon trough that stretched across the northern Coral Sea and Cape York Peninsula toward New Caledonia, and initially had a subtropical appearance. Over the ensuing days, the northernmost circulation became dominant and moved east to the southeast of the equatorward ridge. By 21/1820 UTC it became the second named tropical cyclone of Queensland's and was named Grace.

Grace moved toward the southeast at 15 to 20 knots (37 km/h). This general motion was to continue for the remainder of the cyclone's life. Grace peaked in intensity at 985 hPa with maximum sustained winds of 50 knots (93 km/h) near 20.3S/155.9E at 22/0000 UTC. This intensity was maintained for approximately 6 hours. Thereafter, Grace began to undergo extratropical transition with an increasingly asymmetric wind field due to a squeeze with a surface ridge to the south. Grace rapidly lost its entire upper-level structure and was downgraded at 23/1800 UTC from tropical cyclone status when located approximately 400 nautical miles (740 km) east-northeast of Sandy Cape (23.6S/162.3E). The remnant surface wind field of the system meandered to the east and then to the east-northeast over the following days, producing a very broad area of gales to its south through the Tasman Sea. The highest three-day rainfall amounts for Grace was 759 mm from Topaz, which received 372 mm in 24 hours. The strongest winds from the mainland were from Low Isle at 18/1311 UTC when gusts reached 50 knots (93 km/h). Cape Moreton at 21 March 2004 2230 UTC received gusts to 54 knots (100 km/h). Widespread flooding and damage to roads and property along the far north Queensland coast, mainly between Cooktown and Cairns. Winds and waves brought tide levels above the highest tides of the year and this was particularly evident at Cooktown. Floodwaters closed all major roads into Cairns. A large section of one lane of the Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns collapsed after a landslide consisting of nearly 20 metres of rock and boulders the size of cars destroyed the ocean-side road. The scenic coastal highway and link between Cairns and Port Douglas was closed for several days. Residents were evacuated from the Whitfield range area due to landslides. An estimated $20,000,000 (US) damage to the Cairns region is attributed to pre-cyclone Grace. There were no casualties associated with Tropical Cyclone Grace. In New Caledonia, further strong winds, heavy rains and flooding were experienced. A massive oil slick threatened a popular tourist beach in New Caledonia. Officials in the French Pacific territory put up barriers around the island of Amedee, which was threatened by a toxic oil slick, estimated to cover an area of 20 square kilometres. They said the oil had come from a boat wrecked several decades ago on a coral reef off South Province.[6]

Severe Tropical Cyclone Oscar–Itseng[edit]

Category 4 severe tropical cyclone (Australian scale)
Category 4 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)
STC Oscar 26 mar 2004 0735Z.jpg Oscar 2004 track.png
Duration 21 March – 27 March
Peak intensity 165 km/h (105 mph) (10-min)  940 hPa (mbar)

Formed on 21 March, moved out of the region on 27 March into South-West Indian Ocean region, renaming to Itseng.[6]

Season effects[edit]

This is a table of all of the storms that have formed in the 2003-04 Australian region cyclone season. It includes their duration, names, landfall(s)–denoted by bold location names – damages, and death totals. Damage and deaths include totals while the storm was extratropical, a wave, or a low, and all of the damage figures are in 2004 AUD and USD.

Name Dates active Peak classification Sustained
wind speeds
Pressure Areas affected Damages
Deaths Refs
Jana 6 – 12 December Category 3 severe tropical cyclone 155 km/h (100 mph) 950 hPa (28.05 inHg) None None None None
Debbie 16 – 23 December Category 3 severe tropical cyclone 120 km/h (75 mph) 970 hPa (28.64 inHg) Papua New Guinia, Northern Territory None None None
Ken 1 – 6 January Tropical low 75 km/h (45 mph) 992 hPa (29.29 inHg) Western Australia None None None
Linda 28 January – 1 February Category 2 tropical cyclone 95 km/h (60 mph) 985 hPa (29.08 inHg) None None None None
Fritz 10 – 15 February Category 2 tropical cyclone 95 km/h (60 mph) 985 hPa (29.08 inHg) Queensland, Northern Territory None None None
Monty 25 February – 3 March Category 4 severe tropical cyclone 185 km/h (115 mph) 935 hPa (27.61 inHg) Western Australia Minor Minor None
Evan 27 February – 4 March Category 1 tropical cyclone 65 km/h (40 mph) 991 hPa (29.26 inHg) Northern Territory None None None
Nicky 8 – 10 March Category 2 tropical cyclone 95 km/h (60 mph) 985 hPa (29.08 inHg) None None None None
Fay 12 – 28 March Category 5 severe tropical cyclone 215 km/h (130 mph) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg) Northern Territory, Western Australia Minimal Minimal None
Grace 20 – 23 March Category 2 tropical cyclone 95 km/h (60 mph) 985 hPa (29.08 inHg) Queensland $22 million $20 million None
Oscar 21 – 27 March Category 4 severe tropical cyclone 165 km/h (105 mph) 940 hPa (27.75 inHg) None None None None
Season Aggregates
11 systems 6 December – 27 March 215 km/h (130 mph) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg) $22,000,000 $20,000,000 0

See also[edit]


External links[edit]