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Tropical Cyclone Owen Near Coast of Australia

The center of Tropical Cyclone Owen was near the coast of Australia on Wednesday.  At 4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Owen was located at latitude 15.2°S and longitude 136.1°E which put it about 55 miles (90 km) northwest of Port McArthur, Australia.  Owen was moving toward the southwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 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 978 mb.  Tropical Cyclone Owen was the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon.

The center of Tropical Cyclone Owen was near the portion of the coast between Port Roper and Port McArthur in the Northern Territory of Australia.  Owen was producing winds to near hurricane/typhoon force.  It was dropping locally heavy rain over the southeastern coastal portions of the Northern Territory.

A Tropical Cyclone Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast between Alyangula, Northern Territory and Burketown, Queensland  including Groote Eylandt, Mornington Island and Borroloola.  A Tropical Cyclone Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Burketown to Aurukun, Northern Territory and adjacent inland areas including Pormpuraaw, Kowanyama and Karumba.  Flood Watches were in effect for the Gulf of Carpentaria, south Cape York Peninsula and North Tropical Coast catchments in Queensland.

Tropical Cyclone Owen strengthened and exhibited greater organization on Wednesday.  A small circular eye developed at the center of circulation.  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Owen.  The strongest rainbands were over the Gulf of Carpentaria.  Storms around the core of Owen were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the southeast of the tropical cyclone.

The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Owen was relatively small.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out only about 20 miles (30 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 80 miles (130 km) from the center.

Tropical Cyclone Owen will move through an environment favorable for intensification for another 24 to 36 hours.  Owen will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper level trough over Western Australia and an upper level ridge northeast of Australia will combine to produce northwesterly winds which 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 further intensification.  The center of Tropical Cyclone Own is close to the coast and part of the circulation is over land.  Owen could weaken during the next few hours, while the center is near land.  It should strengthen when the center moves back over the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Tropical Cyclone Owen is an area where the steering currents are weak and it is moving slowly toward the southwest.  The trough over Western Australia will start to steer Owen toward the east-southeast during the next 12 hours.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Owen could pass just north of Port McArthur in about 12 hours.  Owen could pass north of Mornington Island in about 18 hours.  Tropical Cyclone Owen could approach the southeast of coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria in about 36 hours.  Owen is likely to be the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon at that time.

Tropical Cyclone Owen will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to the southern portions of the Gulf of Carpentaria.  Owen will be capable of causing minor wind damage while it lingers near the southeast coast of the Northern Territory.  It will also drop locally heavy rain in coastal areas and flooding could occur.  Tropical Cyclone Owen will be stronger when it brings wind and rain to parts of Queensland.