Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cyclone Monica was expected to hit Darwin as a category five storm, with winds of up to 350 km/h (220 mph). But the national weather bureau downgraded it to category two on the morning of April 25, 2006, when it lost power after making landfall. Monica was a category five cyclone when it touched down in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida, in the Northern Territory, late on 24th night.

A spokeswoman for the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services said some parts of the area had been damaged by the storm. Maningrida "certainly suffered extensive damage to some buildings and structures," she told the Sydney Morning Herald, although no serious injuries have been reported

Tropical Cyclone Monica now poses no risk to the Northern Territory of Australia. Monica was downgraded to a tropical low, but the cyclone has the potential regroup over the warm seas north of Australia. Monica could intensify back into a category two or even three cyclone before striking the north coast of Western Australia at the NT/WA border.

Cyclone Monica hit Australia just a month after category five Cyclone Larry tore through the community of Innisfail, about 100 km (60 miles) south of Cairns. Thousands of homes were destroyed by Cyclone Larry, with a damage bill expected to top A$1bn ($707m, £405m).

"A cyclone watch is current between the Daly Mouth River right through to the Kimberley" says Ms Jenny Farlow, an NT forecaster.

Meanwhile the cyclone has hampered government efforts to crack down on illegal fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Rough seas combined with busy officers have grounded the effort to a halt, and three Indonesian fishing boats in Australian waters are reported to have gone unchecked.