Historical cyclone tracks ..Australia

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3 comments on “Historical cyclone tracks ..Australia

  1. Thanks to Rhubarb from WZforum for this amazing documentation of
    TC MAHINA 1899 MARCH 5th

    This may be off topic, but as TC Ita may cross at Cape Melville, I don’t know how many people on this forum know the story of TC Mahina from 1899 (March 5th).

    Mahina was the worst cyclone in recorded history to hit the Australian coast. The barometer dropped to 914hPa (Cyclone Tracy 950hPa by comparison) and wind gusts were recorded as high as 220mph (350kph). Over 400 people died, mainly the crews and divers of the pearl lugger fleet anchored or working in Bathurst Bay on the fateful day.

    Within an hour, the Thursday Island based pearling fleet anchored in the bay or nearby, was either driven onto the shore or onto the Great Barrier Reef or sunk at their anchorages. Four schooners and the manned Channel Rock lightship were lost. A further two schooners were wrecked but later refloated. Of the luggers, 54 were lost and a further 12 were wrecked but refloated. Over 30 survivors of the wrecked vessels were later rescued from the shore however over 400 were killed, mostly immigrant-European crew members.

    A storm surge, variously reported as either 13 metres or 48 feet high, swept across Princess Charlotte Bay then inland for about 5 kilometres, destroying anything that was left of the Bathurst Bay pearling fleet along with the settlement.

    Now this is amazing to me:

    Eyewitness Constable J. M. Kenny reported that a 48 ft (14.6 m) storm surge swept over their camp at Barrow Point atop a 40 ft (12 m) high ridge and reached 3 miles (5 km) inland, the largest storm surge ever recorded.

    Over 100 Indigenous Australians died, including some who were caught by the back surge and swept into the sea while trying to help shipwrecked men. Thousands of fish and some sharks and dolphins were found up to several kilometres inland and rocks were embedded in trees. On Flinders Island (Queensland) dolphins were found 15.2 metres up on the cliffs.

    Author Ian Townsend has written a book called “The Devil’s Eye”. I recommend it for its research of the period and a quite scary story of what happened from contemporary accounts.

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