Severe Tropical Cyclone Damien

3 – 9 February 2020


Best Track of Severe Tropical Cyclone Damien
All times shows are in Australian Western Standard Time (AWST), that is UTC + 8 hours.

A tropical low formed over land in the Kimberley, about 190km southeast of Kununurra on 3 February 2020 before tracking west. The low moved offshore, near the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome during 5 February. Once over water it gradually intensified reaching category 1 strength at 2pm AWST 6 February and was named Tropical Cyclone Damien. The environment became more favourable as Damien moved west southwest and it went through a period of rapid intensification during the morning of 7 February, developing from a category 1 to a category 3 system in 9 hours. Under the influence of an upper trough, the system was steered south towards the Pilbara coast on 7 January. Damien made landfall as a category 3 severe tropical cyclone around 3:30pm AWST 8 February over the Karratha-Dampier region, with the eye moving directly over Karratha.

Gales occurred along the Pilbara coast from early morning on 8 February, with Barrow Island, Mardie, Varanus Island, Karratha Airport, Roebourne Airport and Legendre Island all recording a period of sustained gales. Karratha Airport recorded the highest wind gust of 194km/h at 2:31pm AWST 8 February. The system continued to move inland weakening on 9 February and the remnant tropical low tracked southeast over the inland Pilbara, eastern Gascoyne and northern Goldfields.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Dampier radar sustained significant damage during the passage of Damien. Extensive vegetation damage was reported and there was some damage to property, including Karratha Airport.

Heavy rainfall caused flooding initially through the Kimberley when the system was a tropical low, then through the Pilbara and eastern Gascoyne. Widespread totals of 100 to 200mm and isolated falls up to 235mm were recorded near the Pilbara coast. Notable rainfall totals in the 48 hours to 9 am AWST 9 February included Karratha Airport 235.2mm and Roebourne Airport 234.8mm. Ginginjibby recorded 153.2mm in the 72 hours to 9am AWST 11 February.

The following rivers/catchments were impacted: West, North and Eastern Kimberley, Ashburton, Pilbara Coastal Streams, Fortescue, Gascoyne, Murchison, De Grey and Salt Lake Rivers District.

Damien delivered rainfall and river flows to Pastoral areas that had been drier than average for at least two years and filled many dams and water resources including the Harding Dam, the main water supply for the Karratha/ Dampier areas.

Tropical Cyclone Damien was the third tropical cyclone and the second severe tropical cyclone in the Australian region for the 2019/20 season.

**All information relating to intensity and track is preliminary information based on operational estimates and subject to change following post analysis.**

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: 150 km/h
Maximum wind gust: 205 km/h
Lowest central pressure: 955 hPa

For more information see the TC Damien Report (pdf).