Tropical Cyclone Gretel

9 - 14 April 1985

Summary

Gretel formed from a tropical depression first analysed just west of Port Moresby in the Gulf of Papua. Embedded in a strong easterly steering stream, Gretel moved at speeds of up to 30 km/h through the Torres Strait and over the southern Arafura Sea. Poor organisation in the cloudbands made tracking the depression and estimating its intensity difficult. Gretel was named at 0600 UTC 12 April 1985 following ship reports of mean gale force winds. After tracking westward over the Cobourg Peninsula, Gretel turned more southerly and passed just north-west of Darwin. At Darwin Airport mean wind speeds of 84 km/h and gusts to 117 km/h were recorded, with a lowest pressure of 984 hPa. The anemograph record at Darwin Airport shows a 10-minute lull in the wind speed, however calm conditions were never observed. This measurement cor- related well with minimum pressure readings, giving a good estimate of the time Gretel passed Darwin as 2120 UTC 12 April. Gretel then continued to track southwest until it reached the Port Keats area where strong upper-level shearing divorced the convection from the low-level centre and Gretel weakened at around 0600 UTC 14 April.

Significant rainfall over the whole western Top End of the Northern Territory and along the north coast was recorded, with some minor flooding and road damage. Since Gretel was a weak cyclone, no significant storm surges were recorded. No casualties were reported, however tree damage around Darwin was widespread. Approximately 700 insurance claims totalling two million dollars were received as a result of Gretel passing close to Darwin. Most claims resulted from water damage, falling trees and minor structural damage. Estimated clean-up cost was $500,000.

Gretel occurred west of 90°E when the Australian region extended to 80°E.