The Heat Is Online

Bizarre "Triple Cyclone" in Australia Fueled by Warm Seas

Cyclone Steve threatens Australia for third time

Reuters News Service, March 6, 2000

SYDNEY - A cyclone which battered the tropical north-east Australian resort town of Cairns last week was yesterday threatening to be 'reborn' for a third time, posing a threat this time to communities on the far west coast.

Cyclone Steve battered Cairns a week ago before weakening into a rain depression and later reforming as a full-fledged cyclone over the remote northern Gulf of Carpentaria.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Andrew Burton said Steve had reverted again to a tropical low but was tracking west-northwest of the pearling town of Broome, in north-western Australia, and was expected to deepen into a cyclone later on Sunday.

"We are expecting this one will recurve (towards the Australian mainland)," he told Reuters. "We cannot say exactly when or where at the moment, but we are expecting it will make land somewhere along the Western Australian coast," he said.

The north-west coast was belted in December by Cyclone John, the most powerful storm to ever hit Australia, with winds gusting up to 290 kph (180mph), although it caused only minimal damage.

The Bureau said a reborn Steve could produce gales with gusts of up to 125 km an hour in coastal areas within 24 hours of its latest warning, issued at 6 a.m. local time (2200 GMT).

Burton said it was quite unusual for cyclones to have 'three lives' but Australia's northern geography was most conducive.

"It is that particular track across the top of Australia where it can cross land, get into water, cross land, get into water, and cross land again," he said.

"Cyclones need warm, moist water underneath to feed them, their energy source is feeding off warm, moist oceans," he said.

Up to 40,000 homes in Cairns were last week without electricity after Steve ripped down power lines, uprooted trees and stripped roofs from buildings as it swept across the Great Barrier Reef resort town packing 170 kph (106mph) winds.

Steve's trail exacerbated massive flooding across northern Australia, turning desert lands into lakes and causing massive damage to crops and livestock.