Tropical Cyclone Katrina

2 - 24 January 1998

Summary

Katrina was an erratic and extremely long-lived cyclone which spent three weeks in the Coral Sea and South Pacific Ocean between the Queensland coast and Vanuatu.After its decay the remnants of K atrina moved westward over Cape York Peninsula, past the Northern Territory and into the Indian Ocean where it developed into tropical cyclone Victor during February. Victor was then re-named Cindy as it moved into La Reunion RSMC in the central Indian Ocean. Katrina developed in early January during an active phase of the intraseasonal oscillation after Sid had weakened to the west and Ron and Susan were developing to the east.

A tropical low within the active monsoon trough in the Coral Sea was named Katrina on 3 January as an upper ridge provided the system with good outflow.

The pre- Katrina low had been looping in the Coral Sea, then commenced an eastward movement after development as a result an increase in the deep westerly monsoon flow to the north of the system. Katrina passed about 120 km to the south of Rennell Island, southern Solomon Islands on 7 January, reaching hurricane intensity on 9 January just prior to reaching the most easterly point of its track. The cyclone came within 220 km of Vanuatu's northernmost island Espiritu Santo on 9 January before recurving back to the west due to weakening of the monsoon westerlies and the development of an anticyclone to the south. Katrina 's intensity peaked at a sustained wind speed of 42 m/s on 10 January, before temporarily weakening as the cyclone moved west-northwest and the upper ridge moved to the south, reducing upper outflow. The storm passed for a second time about 280 km south of Rennell Island on 11 January.

Katrina began deepening again on 14 January as the upper ridge moved north over the system once again and improved upper-level outflow. The maximum intensity with sustained winds of 46 m/s was reached during 15 and 16 January within 500 km of the north Queensland coast. The cyclone at this point started moving south-southwest, and weakened while executing a clockwise loop before moving off to the east-southeast as the northwest monsoon flow increased. Katrina moved southeast parallel to the Queensland coast for several days with fluctuating intensity, before turning once again to the northwest and weakening as a mid-latitude trough sheared the system. The cyclone finally weakened to a tropical depression on 24 January. The remnants of Katrina continued to move west towards the coast and finally moved north and weakened substantially east of Cairns. A weak circulation persisted for a further two weeks and drifted westwards across north Australian and into the Indian Ocean.

One fatality was reported in Vanuatu when a man fishing from a reef was swept away by rough seas. In the Solomon Islands, 200 homes were destroyed on southern Guadalcanal and 450 homes destroyed on the islands of Rennell and Bellona.

Track and intensity

Best Track of Tropical Cyclone Katrina