Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcus

14 - 25 March 2018


Severe Tropical Cyclone Marcus was the strongest tropical cyclone to affect Darwin since Tropical Cyclone Tracy (category 4) in December 1974. While in the Western Australian area of responsibility (AoR) Marcus equalled the record set by Severe Tropical Cyclone Monica in April 2006 for the strongest tropical cyclone anywhere within the Australian Region.

A tropical low formed over the north-eastern Timor Sea within a strengthening monsoon trough on 14 March and moved southeast. The low developed and reached tropical cyclone strength at 1800 Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) 15 March (0330 Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) 16 March) (ACST = UTC + 9.5 hours). Marcus turned to the south southwest and passed across the western tip of the Cobourg Peninsular into the Van Diemen Gulf as a Category 2 tropical cyclone.

Marcus crossed the coast near Cape Hotham about 2200 UTC 16 March with a 10-minute wind peak intensity of around 55 knots (kn) (100 kilometres per hour (km/h)). Marcus continued to move west southwest and passed directly over the city of Darwin, Palmerston and surrounding suburbs. The tropical cyclone then crossed Darwin Harbour, Cox Peninsular, Bynoe Harbour and Dundee Beach causing significant impacts in the surrounding rural areas.

Although Marcus was small in size, the tropical cyclone caused widespread and significant impacts over the Darwin area. Thousands of trees were damaged or brought down. Many trees fell on buildings and cars. Around 430 powerlines were downed leaving some 26500 properties without power immediately after the cyclone. Fortunately, there were no injuries. The strongest wind gust recorded at this time was 70 kn (130 km/h) at 0121 UTC 17 March from the automatic weather station (AWS) located at Darwin Harbour AWS (Darwin National Tidal Centre (NTC)).

Tropical Cyclone Marcus moved off the western Top End coast north of Daly River Mouth into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf during the afternoon of 17 March. Marcus made landfall for the third time on the remote northeast Kimberley coast at 0000 UTC 18 March, about 20 kilometres (km) north of the Berkeley River Mouth as a category 2 tropical cyclone. Marcus was quickly downgraded to category 1 as it moved south of Kalumburu around midday 18 March. A maximum wind gust of 43 kn (80 km/h) was recorded at Kalumburu at 0452 UTC 18 March. Felled trees and building damage were reported from Kalumburu.

Marcus continued to move in a westerly direction, moving offshore again to the west of Mitchell Plateau late on 18 March. Once over open water the tropical cyclone intensified to a 10-minute mean wind peak intensity of 135 kn (250 km/h) at 1200 UTC 21 March, equalling the record for the strongest tropical cyclone in the Australian region. During 22 March, Marcus began to turn to the southwest and then south as it began to weaken. This movement took Marcus over cooler sea surface temperatures and into more unfavourable environment and the intense tropical cyclone continued to steadily weaken. Marcus weakened below tropical cyclone intensity at 0600 UTC 24 March, well away from the coastline.

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

Track and Intensity

Best Track of Tropical Cyclone Marcus