Rusty is a large storm and its slow movement means more rainfall, more flooding potential, increasingly rough surf and a longer period of tropical-storm-force winds along the Pilbara coast.
This image shows the development of Cyclone Rusty on Feb. 24 at 0553 UTC (left), Feb. 25 at 1728 UTC (center) and Feb. 26 at 0535 UTC (right). The AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured infrared data showing coldest temperatures (purple) and highest cloud tops (and strongest thunderstorms).
Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABOM) noted on Feb. 26 that forecasters there expect Rusty to resume a southerly track towards the Pilbara coast during Wednesday, Feb. 27 local time. According to ABOM, wind gusts to 120 kilometers per hour (74.5 mph) have already been experienced in Port Hedland and ABOM expects conditions to degrade on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
NASA Satellites Provide Inside Look in Rusty
On Feb. 26, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument provided visible image and a clear view of Rusty's eye as it neared Port Hedland, Western Australia.
Tropical cyclone Rusty's winds had increased to hurricane intensity when NASA's TRMM satellite flew directly above on Feb. 26, 2013 at 0654 UTC (1:54 a.m. EST). A rainfall analysis derived from TRMM data found that the heaviest surface rain was coming down at a rate of over 138 mm (~5.4 inches) per hour. This intense band of rainfall was located within strong thunderstorms located in Rusty's western eye wall.
Watches and Warnings in Effect
On Feb. 26 at 1551 UTC (10:51 a.m. EST/11:51 p.m. WST local time/Australia), the ABOM website noted the following warnings and watches for Cyclone Rusty:
"DFES State Emergency Service (SES) advises of the following community alerts: RED ALERT: People in or near communities between Pardoo and Whim Creek, including Port Hedland and South Hedland need to go to shelter immediately; YELLOW ALERT: People in communities between Wallal and Pardoo, extending inland to Marble Bar need to take action and get ready to shelter from a cyclone; BLUE ALERT: People in communities between Bidyadanga and Wallal and between Whim Creek and Mardie, including Karratha and extending to inland areas including Nullagine and Millstream, need to prepare for cyclonic weather."
Rusty is now moving along the western edge of a subtropical high pressure system that's centered over central Australia. Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center noted that Rusty may intensify over the next 12 hours as the eye nears the coast.
The cyclone will make landfall near Port Hedland and begin to weaken as it interacts with land and wind shear increases.
Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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