Severe Tropical Cyclone Lua March 10th-18th 2012


A trough of low pressure hung just offshore of West Australia for a week prior to the formation of Lua, the trough gradually organized and formed a closed area of low pressure that was monitored. Once the storm began to organize, it drifted northwestward, away from the coast. It slowly strengthened or maintained its strength.

By March 13th, the storm had slowed its pace and began to drift back Southeastward towards the West Australia coast. During this process, upper level wind shear decreased while water temperatures remained very warm and the storm was still enveloped in a moist air-mass in most levels of the atmosphere. Strengthening resumed, but at a more significant pace such that by March 16th and 17th it was a Severe Tropical Cyclone with 1-minute sustained winds between 105 and 110mph.

(Australia's Bureau of Meteorology Radar Image March 16th 2012, 20:30UTC)

The storm then made landfall on the West Australia coast near Pardoo. Offshore observations from islands showed sustained winds over 85mph with higher gusts and a pressure as low as 938mb. No major cities were in the eyewall of this cyclone, where the strongest winds were located – so there weer few observations of Hurricane force winds. Flooding was the biggest issue with this storm as it brought very heavy rains to what is typically a dry region of Australia.

March 17th 2012, 06:30UTC)”]The storm moved inland and dumped very heavy rainfall on typically arid terrain; as much as 2.5″ of rain in some cases. Lua managed to maintain quite a lot of its strength relatively far inland bringing tropical storm force winds with it for almost the entire crossing of Australia. As an extratropical cyclone, it ushered in cooler air into areas that were seeing temperatures over 100F for days; temperatures dropped into the mid-80s behind Lua.

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