Severe Cyclone Lam Approaching North Coast of Australia

Severe Cyclone Lam is located just to the west of the Wessel Islands.  It is moving slowly southwestward toward the north coast of Australia.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Severe Cyclone Lam was located at latitude 11.5°S and longitude 135.9°E which put it about 40 miles north-northeast of Elcho Island and about 75 miles northwest of Nhulunbuy, Australia.  Lam was moving toward the southwest at 5 m.p.h.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. and there were gusts to 120 m.p.h.  The minimum surface pressure was 967 mb.

Lam is moving over Sea Surface Temperatures that are warmer than 30°C.  The upper level winds are relatively light and there is little vertical wind shear.  Since the environment is favorable, some further intensification is possible before Lam makes landfall in about 12 hours.

Lam is expected to make landfall on the north coast of Australia just to the southwest of Elcho Island.  It is a strong tropical cyclone capable of causing wind damage.  A weather station near Cape Wessel measured a sustained wind speed of 80 m.p.h. and wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. when the eyewall passed over the station.  The intensity and slow movement of Lam are also creating the potential for a significant storm surge near where the center makes landfall.  The slow motion will also create the potential for locally heavy rainfall and flooding as Lam moves inland.