Tropical Cyclone Damien Strengthens to Equivalent of Hurricane/Typhoon

Tropical Cyclone Damien strengthened to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon on Thursday night.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Thursday the center of Tropical Cyclone Damien was located at latitude 18.0°S and longitude 117.2°E which put it about 190 miles (310 km) north of Karratha, Australia.  Damien was moving toward the southwest at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (145 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 979 mb.

A Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast of Western Australia from Wallal Downs to Mardie including Port Hedland, Karratha and Dampier.  A Watch was in effect for the coast from Mardia to Onslow.

Tropical Cyclone Damien organized quickly on Thursday.  Microwave satellite imagery suggested that a small eye could be forming at the center of Damien.  A small ring of thunderstorms surrounded the forming eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Damien.  Storms near the core were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the tropical cyclone.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 90 miles (145 km) from the center of circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Damien will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Damien will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move under the western end of an upper level ridge over Australia.  The ridge will produce northeasterly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds will cause some vertical wind shear, but the shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification.  Tropical Cyclone Damien will strengthen during the next 24 hours and it could rapidly intensify into the equivalent of a major hurricane.

Tropical Cyclone Damien will move around the western end of a high pressure system centered over Australia.  The high will steer Damien toward the south during the next 24 hours.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Damien could make landfall on the coast of Western Australia in the vicinity of Dampier, Karratha and Wickham in about 24 hours.  Damien could be the equivalent of a major hurricane when it reaches the coast.  It will produce strong gusty winds.  Tropical Cyclone Damien will also drop locally heavy rain and flash floods could occur in some locations.

Elsewhere over the South Indian Ocean, Tropical Cyclone Francisco weakened east of Rodrigues.  At 4:00 a.m. EST on Thursday the center of Tropical Cyclone Francisco was located at latitude 19.3°S and longitude 71.7°E which put it about 565 miles (910 km) east of Port Mathurin, Mauritius.  Francisco was moving toward the southeast at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1001 mb

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