Warnings issued as Tropical Cyclone Owen re-forms near Australia

Storm has potential to bring flooding to some of the most populated parts of Queensland.

Tropical Cyclone Owen is expected to cross Queensland once more [Al Jazeera]
Tropical Cyclone Owen is expected to cross Queensland once more [Al Jazeera]

Tropical Cyclone Owen has re-formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria near Australia.

The storm is being dubbed a ‘zombie cyclone’ after it came back to life since first forming close to the Solomon Islands on November 29.

Disintegrating as it tracked west, Owen brought some severe weather to Northern Queensland when it hit on Monday, despite no longer being classed as a cyclone.

Winds of up to 100km per hour were recorded off Port Douglas, and 349 millimetres of rain were registered at Kirrama Range.

As the remnants of Owen continued westward, they left the coast and moved over the Gulf of Carpentaria, where conditions were perfect for cyclone development.

At 30C, the sea surface temperatures were well over the threshold of 27C needed for tropical systems to form, plus the winds throughout the atmosphere were of a similar speed and direction, meaning the system could grow in relatively calm settings.

The conditions made for the speedy resurrection of Tropical Cyclone Owen, prompting warnings of very destructive winds and heavy rain to be issued along the coast from Cape Shield to Burketown.

Fortunately, this part of Australia is not particularly densely populated. However, the storm is expected to take an unusual path that may lead it towards one of the most populated parts of Queensland.

A change in winds in the upper atmosphere is predicted to make Owen do a u-turn, sweeping it back towards Queensland.

When it makes landfall on the Cape York Peninsula on Friday, the winds are expected to be gusting at 165kph.

Some models show the storm then careering down the east coast of Queensland, which could bring flash flooding to large parts of the state.

However, at this stage, meteorologists are not expecting Owen to bring a repeat of Tropical Cyclone Debbie, which hit Queensland in 2017 and triggered widespread flooding down the coast as far as the border with New South Wales.

Fourteen people died in the storm and billions of dollars’ worth of damage was reported.


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