Severe Tropical Cyclone Kathy

16 - 24 March 1984


Severe Tropical Cyclone Kathy was a very intense cyclone in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It formed initially from a tropical low southeast of PNG and tracked to the west reaching cyclone intensity on 18 March prior to crossing Cape York near the mouth of the Pascoe River the following day. Kathy moved across the Cape overnight and into the Gulf of Carpentaria just north of Weipa around 2200 UTC 19 March. Weakening took place during this period and only slight tree damage was reported. The strongest reported wind was 60 km/h at Batavia Downs at 1800 UTC 19 March when Kathy was about 55 km to the north-northwest. During 21 and 22 March Kathy moved slowly over the warm waters of the Gulf on a general southwesterly track. Rapid intensification took place on 21 March with severe cyclone status being reached around 0900 UTC 21 March.

Kathy reached peak intensity around 1200 UTC 22 March when located approximately 100 km northeast of Vanderlin lsland and the Dvorak EIR T number estimate at this time was 6.5. Between1600 UTC 21 March and 2100 UTC 22 March GMS-1 imagery showed a clearly-defined eye. The cyclone weakened slightly before landfall at Port McArthur at about 2130 UTC 22 March. Kathy continued to move inland on a southwesterly track and lost cyclone status at 1400 UTC 23 March when about 200 km from the coast. The remnant low decayed about 24 hours later after turning to the southeast.

The lowest reported pressure was 938 hPa from a trawler close to the Centre Island meteorological station. The station's barograph registered a minimum pressure of 940 hPa during the passage of the eye of the cyclone and, before the Dines anemometer failed, the highest recorded wind gust was 232 km/h.

Cyclone Kathy devastated the Sir Edward Pellew group and several small camps were demolished. A fishing fleet experienced hurricane winds and phenomenal seas for about 8 hours as the cyclone passed over them. Three trawlers were forced aground above the high water mark and one sank with the loss of one crewperson.

Kathy crossed the mainland coast around 2130 UTC 22 March just north of Booroloola Township where there was moderate to sever damage. A 4.2 m storm surge was measured on the east coast of Vanderlin Island. Large numbers of dugongs and green turtles were carried inland due to the flat open nature of the coast at landfall and a dugong was found 8 km inland.

Track and intensity

Best Track of Severe Tropical Cyclone Kathy