Tropical Cyclone “Jasper” intensifies to Category 4, threatens north Queensland coast, Australia

satellite image of tropical cyclone jasper at 0430 utc on december 8 2023

Severe Tropical Cyclone “Jasper” has intensified to a Category 4 system on Friday, December 8, 2023, with sustained winds of 195 km/h (120 mph) and gusts up to 270 km/h (165 mph). Currently located about 650 km (405 miles) from Honiara, Solomon Islands, Jasper poses a potential threat to the north Queensland coast.

Jasper formed on December 4, 2023, as the first named storm of the 2023–24 Australian region cyclone season.

As of 00:00 UTC on December 8, Jasper’s center was approximately 650 km (405 miles) from Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The cyclone had maximum 10-minute sustained winds at 195 km/h (120 mph) and 1-minute sustained winds at 220 km/h (140 mph), both gusting up to 270 km/h (165 mph). The minimum central pressure was 940 hPa, and Jasper was moving south at a speed of 11 km/h (6.9 mph).

satellite image of tropical cyclone jasper at 0430 utc on december 8 2023
Tropical Cyclone “Jasper” at 04:30 UTC on December 8, 2023. Credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

The trajectory forecasts for Jasper suggest a westward turn over the weekend, heading towards the north Queensland coast.

tropical cyclone jasper jtwc forecast track 0900 utc on december 8 2023

Despite an expected weakening phase, there remains a risk of re-intensification as Jasper nears the coast, with a potential for severe impacts.

The areas between Cape Melville and Townsville, including Cairns and Cooktown, are at the highest risk of cyclone impact. While the exact timing of the coastal impact remains uncertain, the authorities are monitoring Jasper closely, with preparations underway to mitigate the potentially severe effects.

References:

1 Australian Bureau of Meteorology – Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre – TROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION BULLETIN – Issued at 4:41 pm EST on Friday 8 December 2023

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