Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica

18 – 28 March 2019


Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica reached category five intensity north of Western Australia. Although it did not actually cross the Pilbara coast it caused significant disruption to the mining and offshore oil and gas industry and damage to infrastructure. The total losses are estimated at about $2 billion making Veronica one of Western Australia's costliest weather events.

A low formed in the waters to the north of Western Australia, about 550 kilometres (km) north of Broome early on 18 March. The low moved southwest and intensified in favourable conditions, attaining tropical cyclone intensity at 1800 Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) 19 March, 0200 Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) 20 March (AWST = UTC + 8 hours). Veronica intensified very quickly and reached a peak intensity of 115 knots (kn) (213 kilometres per hour (km/h)) at 0000 UTC 21 March. From 1200 UTC 21 March Veronica weakened slightly as conditions became less favourable. From 22 to 24 March the tropical cyclone moved slowly in a southerly direction towards the Pilbara coast and maintained a category 4 intensity. Veronica stopped about 80 km north of the Pilbara coast and remained near stationary for around 24 hours (h) while gradually weakening. The weakened tropical cyclone was then steered in a westerly direction parallel to the Pilbara coast and decreased to below tropical cyclone strength by 0000 UTC 26 March. The remains of the low continued to move west, across the North West Cape and into the Indian Ocean where it eventually dissipated.

Despite Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica not crossing the Pilbara coast it caused significant disruption and damage to Pilbara industry and communities. Port Hedland, Karratha and other smaller communities were subjected to a prolonged period of gale and storm force winds and heavy rainfall. Exposed coastal sites experienced periods of near hurricane force winds and very destructive gusts. The coastline to the east of Veronica's centre experienced tides well above the normal high tide mark due to a significant storm surge. Shipping data suggests that Veronica caused more than 15 megatonnes in lost exports or about $2 billion in lost revenue. About 2000 cattle were estimated to have died.

Significant flooding occurred due to heavy rainfall and many homes were evacuated after being cut off by floodwaters in the Port Hedland area. Many streams and waterways in the De Grey catchment reached minor flood level. The Coongan River at Marble Bar Road peaked at approximately 5.215 metres (m) and the Shaw River at Marble Bar Rd peaked at approx. 4.746 m.

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

Track and Intensity

Best Track of Tropical Cyclone Veronica