Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor

Northern Territory Regional Office

Track of Tropical Cyclone Trevor

A tropical low formed in the Solomon Sea east of Papua New Guinea (PNG) on 11th March and deepened to 998hPa while moving slowly southwest during the following days. The low crossed the Milne Bay Province of southeastern PNG on 16th March and moved into the northern Coral Sea. Tropical Cyclone Trevor was named at 4am AEST on 18th March, around 300 km east of Lockhart River.

Tropical Cyclone Trevor intensified rapidly before crossing the Queensland coast just south of Lockhart River around 7pm AEST on 19th March as a severe category 3 cyclone. The cyclone slowed down during crossing and the community of Lockhart River was subject to destructive winds for four hours with peak gusts recorded up to 137 km/h (74 knots). The cyclone weakened to category 1 intensity as it traversed Cape York Peninsula, emerging into the Gulf of Carpentaria south of Weipa early on 21st March.

Tropical Cyclone Trevor turned towards the southwest and intensified steadily as it moved over the warm waters of the Gulf towards the Northern Territory coast. The cyclone reached severe category 4 intensity with wind gusts to 250 km/h before making its second Australian coastal crossing between Port McArthur and the NT/Queensland Border around 11am CST on 23rd March. The strongest wind gust recorded in the Northern Territory was 139 km/h (75 knots) early on 23rd March at Centre Island, near Port McArthur (equivalent to category 2 intensity). Gales were reported for several hours at Borroloola as the cyclone passed on 23rd March.

The cyclone moved inland across the Carpentaria and Barkly districts, weakening into a tropical low early on 24th March near Creswell Downs. The low continued south through the eastern Northern Territory then moved into Queensland on 26th March near Mount Isa and continued across north central districts of Queensland for the next few days.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Trevor caused significant impacts in north Queensland, with trees defoliated and felled, damage to buildings at Lockhart River, and roads cut due to flooding in Cook Shire. In the Northern Territory, the cyclone passed between Borroloola and Robinson River with little damage in those communities apart from felled trees. A fishing camp south of Borroloola sustained damage to several houses and out-buildings. A storm surge affected the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria but caused little damage in a mostly unpopulated area. The tide gauge at Burketown, 300km east of landfall, recorded a surge of 1.8m, while Mornington Island recorded a 1.7m surge (160km east of the cyclone track). More than 2000 people were evacuated to Darwin and Katherine from Alyangula, Borroloola, Numbulwar and Ngukurr in advance of TC Trevor making landfall in the Northern Territory.

The most widespread impact from the cyclone and its remnant tropical low was the heavy rainfall in drought-ravaged areas in eastern Northern Territory and northern and central Queensland. Over 300mm of rainfall was recorded in 24 hours at Lockhart River during the cyclone's passage. Significant rainfall in the Northern Territory included a 24-hour total to 150mm at McArthur River Mine in the Carpentaria District and 3-day totals of 220mm at Arapunya, 182mm at Marqua, 176mm at Jervois and 100mm at Soudan in the Barkly and Simpson Districts. Localised flooding cut many roads in these districts, including the Tablelands, Sandover and Plenty Highways, and Tobermorey Station near the NT/Queensland border was inundated by floodwaters from the Sandover River.

Some parts of central-west and south-west Queensland received their first substantial rain in more than a year, with the remnant tropical system delivering between 100 and 200 millimetres in the 24 hours to 9 am on 27th March. Heavy 6-hour rainfall totals included 95mm to 5:10am at Mt Harden (southwest of Blackall) and 82mm to 7:40am at Bogewong (southwest of Longreach).

Coastal Crossing Details
Crossing time: 11am CST Saturday 23 March 2019
Crossing location: near Robinson River mouth
  85km ESE of Port McArthur
Category when crossing the coast: 4

Extreme values during cyclone event (estimated)
Note that these values may be changed on the receipt of later information
Maximum Category: 4
Maximum sustained wind speed: 175 km/h
Maximum wind gust: 250 km/h
Lowest central pressure: 950 hPa