approaching the Cape York Peninsula, Australia, at 0525z on 08 March 2005.
Satellite image from OSEI
Click on any image above to see the full sized image.
The long and difficult chase of Cyclone Ingrid across Australia
Cyclone Ingrid is the only cyclone in Australian history to hit 3 states as a category 5 storm, Cyclone Ingrid crossed the Cape York Peninsula near the Archer River Roadhouse, reintensified in the Gulf of Carpentaria, tracked along the coastline of the Northern Territory, skirted Darwin and made it's final landfall on Faraway bay and Kalumbaru, on the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia. I followed it more than 3000 kms all the way from Cape York Peninsula to the Kimberley getting in it's path 3 times. It took 2 days to drive the 600 kilometres from Cairns to Archer River on Queenslands remote Cape York Peninsula and for a fair portion of the trip the road was little more than a 4WD track with numerous river crossings. Damage was minor at the roadhouse when Cyclone Ingrid went through but some structures at Lockhart River settlement were damaged. It was a race against time to get out of the area to avoid being stranded for days by rising rivers. With me was Dr Jonathan Nott from James Cook University in Cairns. The hospitality of the people at the Musgrave and Archer River Roadhouses was much appreciated. From Cairns I flew to Darwin to try and intercept Cyclone Ingrid, now a CAT 5 again as it hit isolated communities in the Northern Territory. Unfortunately all attempts to fly into the communities in the cyclones path were disrupted by the authorities who were more keen on people being evacuated than coming in, (something about safetly rules) ! Cyclone Ingrid hit Melville Island and passed close to Darwin and then reintensified into a CAT 5 again lining up a remote part of the Kimberley Plateau for its final landfall. I flew from Darwin to Kununurra to try and find someone to fly me into the town in the path of the storm in a Cessna. After much debate about the ominous looking storm activity now on the weather radar a local pilot flew me in to Kalumbaru, a remote aboriginal community 400 kilometres into the outback as the outer bands of the storm closed in. The local Police greeted me on the runway, I suspect they were more worried that I might be bringing in alcohol, ( Alcohol is banned in Kalumbaru ) I quickly sent the pilot on his way before the weather worsened or anyone had the idea of telling me to get back on the plane and leave. Accommodation was scarce so I ended up weathering the cyclone in the courthouse with a State Emergency Service worker, Mick Mc Inerney. The biggest problem with maintaining communications was the endless stream of people arriving to find out what the latest was with Cyclone Ingrid, oblivious to the fact that the satellite dish tends to not work very well when vehicles are parked in front of it, as well as people, dogs, and even a donkey ! Cyclone Ingrid made a direct hit on Kalumburu at around 11pm (WST) on March 15 and the full force of the cyclone was felt up until about 4 am. Several trees fell on the building I was sheltering in. Most of the buildings in town remained intact while many trees and power lines came down, there were no injuries. The next problem was the King Edward River, previously a small, innocent looking creek (apart from the crocodiles) . The river was now a kilometre wide raging torrent and over the next day it rose even more to the point where it was coming into the streets on the edge of town. The following day I flew out to Faraway Bay in a State Emergency helicopter. The resort at Faraway Bay was badly damaged but the two residents there spent the night sheltering from 280kph winds in a shipping container. I then flew back out to Kununurra in the helicopter seeing thousands of acres, as far as the eye could see, under water.
Geoff Mackley 22 March 2005
tracking maps and satellite images from the The
Joint Typhoon Warning Center of Cyclone Ingrid
to Geoff's weather links
Back to site directory