Australia's Great Northern Highway underwater again

Kelvin, the category 2 cyclone, brings damaging winds and flooding rain to Western Australia's Cyclone Alley.

    Tropical Cyclone Kelvin achieved category 2 strength as it made landfall on Sunday morning, at the top end of Eighty Mile Beach in the Kimberley, western Australia.

    It is the third, named cyclone of the season to affect western Australia, and it maintained its wind strength of 150 kilometres per hour as it moved inland, for at least six hours and through 100km. The cyclone has brought 492mm of rain to Broome in the last three days.

    Broome has recorded 492mm of rain from Kelvin over the last three days and over half a metre of rain so far this month.

    That makes this February the wettest in 122 years. Nevertheless, flooding in the town is not a serious problem.

    Broome is not susceptible to major flooding, owing to good drainage and the small catchment size of local creeks

    More significant flooding occurs on the Fitzroy River to the east.

    This is not the first inundation in the Kimberley this year. At the end of January, a slow-moving tropical low, 11U, brought near-record rainfall accumulations of 639 mm in four days, causing extensive flooding.

    Stretches of the Great Northern Highway were closed, as the area started to look like part of the ocean. In a 24-hour period, 439mm of rain fell in Broome alone, with flood waters in some areas reaching depths of 1.5 metres.

    Kelvin's deluge of rain has again caused the closure of parts of the Great Northern Highway.

    Main Roads regional manager Andrew Pyke said: "From a flooding perspective, it's a bit of a perfect storm, we've got a lot of water sitting on the Roebuck plains area now and a lot of water happened in the last 24-48 hours in the Broome area, and there is more water coming down with the passing of this cyclone.

    "It is quite difficult.

    "There's certainly been significant damages of some roads in the Kimberley with the water that's flowed over the roads. We are very concerned."

    The Kimberley is the northernmost of the nine regions of western Australia, and has a tropical monsoon climate.

    The Kimberley receives about 90 percent of its rainfall during the short, wet season, from November to April, when cyclones are common (especially around Broome) and the rivers flood.

    Additional reports from abc.net.au and bom.gov.au

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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