Tropical Cyclone Craig

7 - 12 March 2003


A low developed in a weak monsoon trough just west of Darwin on 7-8 March. Strengthening monsoon flow to the north, a reduction of vertical wind shear and increased upper-level outflow combined to improve organization and tropical cyclone intensity was reached at 0300 UTC on 9 March west of the Tiwi Islands. Despite moving over the northeastern end of Melville Island Craig intensified further as it moved eastwards as the mid-level ridge weakened to the south. Craig reached a peak intensity of 28 m/s (55 knots) at 0000 UTC 11 March prior to crossing the coast at the base of the Cobourg Peninsula about 90 kilometres southeast of Cape Don. A sharp upper trough extended into the tropics to the southwest producing deep layer westerly winds that accelerated Craig to 10-15 m/s as it skirted the northern coast. Despite weakening due to land interaction and increased shear Craig retained its structure with the strongest winds on the western flank of the 75 kilometre diameter core.

Craig entered the Gulf of Carpentaria near Nhulunbuy at about 2000 UTC 11 March and briefly re-intensified although the strongly asymmetric wind and rainfall features persisted under the influence of the upper trough. Later on 12 March the system slowed becoming near stationary near Kowanyama encountering a strengthening low-level ridge over Cape York. Craig weakened rapidly under strong vertical wind shear and entrainment of deep dry air from the western flank of the upper trough over eastern Australia.

There were reports of mostly minor damage mainly relating to vegetation damage along the affected parts of the coastline. Power lines were cut by falling trees and many roads were closed throughout the affected area. Two cargo vessels were damaged in high Seas off Melville Island. Storm surges to 2.5 metres were estimated on Cobourg Peninsula and Goulbourn Island.

Track and intensity

All times in UTC - add 9.5 hours to convert to CST.

Best Track of Tropical Cyclone Craig