Severe Tropical Cyclone Aivu

1 - 5 April 1989


Severe tropical cyclone Aivu crossed the north Queensland coast in the Burdekin River delta near Home Hill between Townsville and Bowen on 4 April 1989. Aivu caused directly quantifiable damage estimated at $90M (1989 dollars). An elderly man drowned in the accompanying storm surge in Upstart Bay, which is situated to the immediate south of the Burdekin River delta.

A tropical low developed to the east of the south-eastern tip of Papua New Guinea on 31 March. As it moved slowly west-southwest, the system deepened reachingd tropical cyclone intensity at 0100 UTC 1 April. Aivu tracked southeast and then southwest at 15-20 km/h and continued to intensify over the next 30 hours.

By 1500 UTC 2 April at 15.7°S, 149.9°E Aivu had become a severe tropical cyclone. Maximum intensity of 935 hPa occurred at 0600 UTC 3 April near 17.0°S, 149.2°E.

Aivu gradually weakened but maintained severe tropical cyclone intensity until landfall south of Townsville at 0030 UTC 4 April when the central pressure was 957 hPa with wind gusts to 200 km/h and a storm surge of 3 metres. The system continued to move west-southwest after landfall and degenerated into a rain depression during the next six hours losing all identity two days later.

The lowest observed pressure was 959 hPa at 0045 UTC 4 April at Fredericksfeild, 10 km south southwest of Home Hill in the cyclone eye. The highest recorded mean wind was 118 km/h at Holmes Reef (about 240 km east northeast of Cairns) at 0530 UTC 3 April when Aivu 's centre was 40 km from the reef.

Aivu produced record and near record April rainfall totals over large parts of the coastal and central interior districts. The maximum total for the 72-hour period to 2300 UTC 5 April was 1082 mm recorded inland from Mackay where the 24-hour rainfall was 581 mm (topographical effects contributed). Severe local flooding occurred between Townsville and Mackay during 4 April with a flood peak at Mackay of 7.8 metres on 5 April; the major flood peak measured 13.2 metres on the Pioneer River upstream from Mackay.

The wind damage from Aivu was only moderate. The worst overall damage was caused by the 2.5 to 3.0 metre storm tide surge which destroyed numerous beachfront properties.

For more information see the TC Aivu report (BoM 1990) .

Track and intensity

Best Track of Severe Tropical Cyclone Aivu