Severe Tropical Cyclone Frances

Northern Territory Regional Office

Track of Tropical Cyclone Frances

Severe Tropical Cyclone Frances was a small tropical cyclone that developed rapidly and weakened rapidly over the Timor Sea during the last week of the official Australian tropical cyclone season.

A tropical low in the Gulf of Papua on 21 April, about 200 km west of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, moved westwards across southern parts of Papua New Guinea during 22 April until it emerged over the northeast Arafura Sea on 23 April, about 500 km north of Nhulunbuy, Australia. The tropical low strengthened slowly as it continued to move westwards over warm waters of the Arafura Sea. The low passed south of the Aru Islands, Indonesia during 24 and 25 April until it stalled near Tanimbar Island, Indonesia on 26 April.

Overnight, the tropical low took a turn towards the southwest and experienced a period of rapid development. The tropical low continued to strengthen during 27 April and reached tropical cyclone intensity that afternoon, about 300 km northwest of Darwin. Tropical Cyclone Frances moved west southwest across the central Timor Sea and continued to rapidly develop, reaching severe tropical cyclone intensity (category 3) by the afternoon of 28 April, just 24 hours after initially reaching tropical cyclone intensity. Severe Tropical Cyclone Frances maintained category 3 strength until the morning of 29 April. Due to increasingly unfavourable atmospheric conditions, the tropical cyclone weakened quickly over open water between the northwest Kimberley region of Australia and the island of Timor and was downgraded to a tropical low on the morning of 30 April.

Although Severe Tropical Cyclone Frances did not directly impact the surrounding coastlines of Australia, Indonesia and Timor Leste, the outer rainbands of the developing tropical cyclone produced heavy rainfall over the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, Australia - Pirlangimpi recorded 192mm in the 24-hour period to 9am Friday 28 April. An automatic weather station located in the Timor Sea reported a maximum wind gust of 120 km/h on the morning of 28 April as the tropical cyclone passed to the south.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Frances was the third tropical cyclone to occur within Australia's Northern Region for the 2016/17 season. It was also the first tropical cyclone to reach severe tropical cyclone strength over the Timor Sea since Severe Tropical Cyclone Laurence in December 2009.

Extreme values during cyclone event (estimated)
Note that these values may be changed on the receipt of later information
Maximum Category:3
Maximum sustained wind speed:120 km/h
Maximum wind gust:170 km/h
Lowest central pressure:980 hPa