Tropical Cyclone Jasper, located off the northeast coast of Australia, has intensified into a Category 4 storm on Friday, December 8, putting residents and local authorities in Queensland on high alert. Australian meteorologists describe Jasper to be unpredictable and can either weaken or strengthen in the coming hours and days. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology even predicts that the storm could intensify into a Category 5 system.
The approaching cyclone has threatened a weather station situated hundreds of kilometers from Cairns in the Coral Sea, sparking evacuation plans by authorities to prioritize staff safety of the station. On mainland Australia, Queensland officials have urged residents to start preparing emergency supplies but with no evacuation orders have been issued yet. The Category 4 cyclone is expected to bring above-average rainfall and gusty winds, as well as cause dangerous marine conditions.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Jasper
(Photo : Photo by Jose G. Ortega Castro via Unsplash)
Tropical Cyclone Jasper is moving towards Queensland and produces wind gusts of almost 300 kilometers per hour. It specifically threatens North Queensland as it is expected to impact the Australian state’s coast between Cooktown and Townsville by the middle of next week. When it reached the Category 4 system, Jasper has now sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 270 kilometers per hour.
In a media release on Wednesday, December 7, the Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predict that Severe Tropical Cyclone Jasper will gradually move towards the Queensland coast next week and previously predicted its intensification into a category 4. During the release, the BOM also mentioned that the storm could possibly intensify into a Category 5 cyclone on Friday.
The lingering cyclone is projected to target the state since it is slowly moving in a southwestward pattern towards the far northeast part of the Coral Sea, a common origin site of storms that impacted eastern Australia in the past. Although Jasper is moving slow, the BOM’s Meteorologist Sara Scully described it as a strong system and prompts the evacuation of the weather bureau’s Willis Island station, located about 450 kilometers off Cairns.
Also Read: Two Tropical Cyclones Track in Australia; Flooding Rain to Unload in New Zealand, Queensland’s Norfolk Island
BOM Cyclone Forecast
As of 2:00 p.m. AEST (local time) on Friday, Scully reported that the large system Severe Tropical Cyclone Jasper is located 1200 kilometers off Cairns and is slowly tracking southwards. Despite the uncertainty regarding the cyclone’s behavior, BOM Queensland is expecting Jasper to weaken slightly and turn west throughout the weekend.
However, Scully stated that the agency cannot rule out that the Queensland storm can intensify into a Category 5 system since atmospheric conditions support its development. Furthermore, Australia is currently on its tropical cyclone season, which normally runs from November 1 to April 30 each year. However, tropical cyclones can still occur outside this period.
In April 2021, Cyclone Seroja struck the country’s Western Australia state, impacting its coast with wind gusts of up to 170 kilometers per hour. It damaged houses, toppled trees, and downed power lines.
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