Tropical cyclone Jasper rapidly intensifies off Australia's northern coast

World Sunday 10/December/2023 14:49 PM
Tropical cyclone Jasper rapidly intensifies off Australia's northern coast

Canberra: A tropical cyclone, Jasper, has rapidly intensified off the northern coast of Australia, as per CNN.

The cyclone strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, with maximum winds of 220 kilometres per hour (138 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre.

The country's meteorology bureau said: "Further intensification on Friday is possible, and a category 5 system cannot be ruled out."
Jasper is the earliest Category 4 tropical cyclone to form in the Coral Sea since records began in 1900.

The storm, which is located 1,195 kilometres (742 miles) northeast of Queensland and is moving south at 9 kph (6 mph), could strike the coast near Cairns, a city of 250,000 people, with maximum sustained winds of 140 kph (87 mph) by early Tuesday.

Forecasters, however, say the cyclone's projected path could change.

The storm's arrival is unusually early during El Nino, a climate pattern that originates in the Pacific Ocean along the equator and generally reduces rainfall along Australia's east coast, as per CNN.

The system has impacted weather all over the world this year and can particularly influence storm seasons.

Meanwhile, heat warnings are in effect in several Australian states and territories, including New South Wales, home to more than 8 million people.
Temperatures in the NSW capital Sydney are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Saturday, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, with the heat fuelled by strong, dry winds.

Some schools in Sydney were forced to shut on Friday and a total fire ban was in place in some parts of NSW, due to the increased risk of bushfires.

A "catastrophic" fire rating was issued in parts of South Australia, the highest on the scale, which indicates that lives and properties are likely to be lost if a fire starts. Extreme fire danger ratings were in place in parts of New South Wales and Victoria, as per CNN.