Tropical Cyclone Debbie Moves Toward Queensland and Strengthens

Tropical Cyclone Debbie moved toward Queensland and strengthened on Saturday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Cyclone Debbie was located at latitude 18.2°S and longitude 151.2°E which put it about 295 miles (475 km) east-northeast of Townsville, Australia.  Debbie was moving toward the west-southwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 70 m.p.h. (110 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 95 m.p.h. (155 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 982 mb.

The circulation of Tropical Cyclone Debbie continued to become better organized on Saturday.  A primary rainband wrapped around the southern and western sides of the center of circulation.  An eyewall appeared to be forming but there were breaks on the east side of the incipient eyewall.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of the circulation.  The thunderstorms were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass out in all directions.  The circulation is very symmetrical and winds to tropical storm force extend out about 190 miles (305 km) from the center.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie will be moving through an environment that is very favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Debbie will move moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Debbie will continue to intensify and it could intensify rapidly once a complete eyewall surrounds the center of circulation.  Tropical Cyclone Debbie will become the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon on Sunday and it could strengthen into the equivalent of a major hurricane before it reaches the coast of Queensland.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie is moving around the eastern end of a ridge centered over northern Australia.  The ridge is steering Debbie toward the west-southwest and that general motion is expected to continue during the next several days.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Debbie could approach the coast of Queensland in 36 hours.  Tropical Cyclone Debbie could make landfall between Mackay and Rollingstone.  The greatest probability currently is for a landfall between Bowen and Townsville near Ayr.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie will bring destructive winds, storm surge and heavy rain to the coast of Queensland in about 36 hours.