Weather News

Cyclone Niran turns 'severe'

Ben Domensino, Thursday March 4, 2021 - 10:23 EDT

Tropical Cyclone Niran has strengthened into a category 3 severe tropical cyclone over the Coral Sea, with wind gusts hitting 165km/h near its core.

Niran became a category 3 cyclone at around 7am AEST on Thursday. At that time, its centre was located about 345km to the northeast of Cairns and wind speeds near its eye were averaging 120km/h, with gusts up to 165km/h.

Image: Visible satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Niran at 9am AEST on Thursday. Source: RAMMB/CIRA

While Cyclone Niran's very destructive eyewall winds are churning up the Coral Sea, it's too far away from land to cause damaging winds in Queensland. As a result, all cyclone warnings and cyclone watches have been cancelled.

The only Australian territories that now stands to feel the brunt of Cyclone Niran are the islands in the Coral Soea, including Willis Island, a small speck of land that conveniently hosts an automatic weather station.

Tropical Cyclone Niran is forecast to move towards the southeast during the next 2-3 days. This path will take the powerful cyclone past Willis Island today before barrelling towards New Caledonia on the weekend.

The weather radar on Willis Island could already detect the eye of Severe Tropical Cyclone Niran as it was approaching on Thursday morning.

Image: The eye of Severe Tropical Cyclone Niran visible on the Willis Island radar at 7am AEST on Thursday.

If the weather station remains operational during the next 24 hours, it could record some of the powerful winds and bands of heavy rain that are wrapping around Niran's core.

Cyclone Niran is the 6th tropical cyclone to be named in the Australian region so far this season and the 2nd to become severe (category 3 or higher). Only one tropical cyclone, Imogen, has made landfall in Australia so far this season.

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