Tropical Cyclone Ellie

21 December 2022 - 8 January 2023


Although Ellie's time as a tropical cyclone near the Northern Territory coast was short lived, as a tropical low it spent two weeks over the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia where it was responsible for enormous rainfall and flooding impacts.

A tropical low formed within the monsoon trough to the northwest of Darwin in the Timor Sea on 21 December and intensified quickly as it moved south. The low reached tropical cyclone intensity on the evening of 22 December with a peak 10-minute mean wind intensity of 40 knots (kn) (75 kilometres per hour (km/h)). Tropical Cyclone Ellie crossed the Northern Territory coast just south of the Daly River mouth at 1400 Universal Time Co-ordinated (UTC) (2330 Australian Central Standard Time (ACST)). Ellie continued moving inland and weakened below tropical cyclone intensity during the morning of 23 December. Refer to the tracks in Figure 1 (entire track) and Figure 2 (track 21-23 December). See Table 1 for tabulated parameter estimates for the period 21-23 December.

As a tropical low, Ellie continued moving southeast across central parts of the Northern Territory where heavy rainfall led to flooding in many communities, most notably Timber Creek, and cut major roads. From 27 December it was steered to the northwest and moved into the Kimberley on 29 December. The low became slow moving over the inland Kimberley and aided by a strong monsoon flow to the north, produced multiple days of heavy rainfall. The Fitzroy River reached its highest levels on record, peaking at 14.23 metres (m) at Fitzroy Crossing on the afternoon of 4 January, isolating the town and many other nearby communities. Over 200 people were evacuated from various communities throughout the Fitzroy Valley. The Great Northern Highway bridge at Fitzroy Crossing sustained significant damage beyond repair. The bridge is usually relied on as the only all-weather road connection between the west and east Kimberley. Road transport to Fitzroy Crossing had to be rerouted while a barge and low-level floodway solutions were implemented. Main Roads WA anticipate that it will take one to two years to replace the bridge.

On 3 January the low moved further west towards Broome and became slow moving for several days. Although it remained over land, the system strengthened causing gales over west Kimberley waters on 4 January. A peak wind gust of 53 kn (98 km/h) was recorded at the Broome National Tidal Centre (NTC) automatic weather station (AWS) at 2055 UTC 4 January (0455 Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) 5 January). Heavy rainfall continued to be associated with the system and Broome also became cut-off by road due to flooding across the Roebuck Plains. The system began moving southeast once more on 6 January, eventually dissipating over the southwest of the Northern Territory on 8 January.

For more information see the TC Ellie Report (pdf).

Track and Intensity

Operational track for TC Ellie 2022