Tropical Cyclone Charlie

21 February - 1 March 1988


For several days before the formation of the low which was to become tropical cyclone Charlie there were diffuse thunderstorm clusters over the northern Coral Sea. The low eventually became recognisable at 0000 UTC 21 February some 400 km south-southwest of Honiara. This system moved slowly west-southwest and gradually deepened from a central pressure of 997 hPa and reached cyclone intensity at 1800 UTC 22 February with a central pressure of 993 hPa and positioned at 14.6°S, 156.2°E.

Tropical cyclone Charlie continued to intensify gradually for another 30 hours and deepened to have a central pressure of 985 hPa when at 15.2°S, 154.5°E. During this period the system altered course to the south. Charlie then began to decay and tracked first southeast, then southwest and finally west. By 1200 UTC 25 February it had filled to 996 hPa and was centred at 17.5°S, 153.8°E. There was little or no change for the next 36 hours other than a slow west-southwest drift.

The system then began to intensify once more and a general westward movement was main-tained for a further 36 hours. At about 1200 UTC 28 February the final major turn occurred, this time to the south. Intensification continued while the cyclone tracked through Bowling Green Bay, across Cape Bowling Green and through Upstart Bay. Charlie made landfall in the southern part of Upstart Bay around 1600 UTC 29 February with a central pressure of 972 hPa. The cyclone continued to move inland and weakened to less than cyclone intensity at 0600 UTC 1 March. It was unrecognisable as a distinct system by 1500 UTC on the same day.

The lowest recorded pressure was 981 hPa at 1930 UTC 29 February at Cape Bowling Green AWS. and the highest recorded wind speed was 139 km/h at the same site 30 minutes later.

The estimated maximum wind speed was 115 km/h with maximum gusts to 165 km/h. The lowest central pressure was estimated to be 972 hPa and the mean eye diameter at the time of peak intensity was 37 km. Structural damage caused by Charlie was minor but there was moderate crop damage, mainly to sugar cane.

Track and intensity

Best Track of Tropical Cyclone Charlie