The 2008–09 Australian region cyclone season was an event in the cycle of tropical cyclone formation. It officially started on 1 November 2008, and officially ended on 30 April 2009. The regional tropical cyclone operational plan defines a "tropical cyclone year" separately from a "tropical cyclone season"; the "tropical cyclone year" began on 1 July 2008 and ended on 30 June 2009.
On 26 September 2008 the New Zealand National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research issued a seasonal forecast for the whole of the southern Pacific Ocean to the east of 150°E. They predicted that the 2008-09 South Pacific cyclone season would see an average risk of cyclones forming, which meant that 8-10 tropical cyclones with wind speeds greater than 35 knots would form east of 150°E.
The Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Perth on 20 October 2008 forecasted that this season would be an average to an above average season with at least five to seven tropical cyclones, forming within their area of responsibility. The forecast also predicted that there would be at least 2 coastal impacts, with a "higher than normal risk" of a pre Christmas tropical cyclone. There was also a "significant risk" of a severe tropical cyclone impacting the north-western Australian coast.
The Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Darwin on 20 October 2008 also predicted that the 2008-09 season may be an "above average" season in the Northern Territory. An average season sees two-three cyclones form in TCWC Darwins area of responsibility, which includes the includes the Gulf of Carpentaria. TCWC Darwin also predicted that there was an "even chance" of a severe tropical cyclone (Category 3 or greater) forming and that a cyclone would form before Christmas in the Timor Sea.
The Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Perth issued an updated prediction for seasonal activity on 30 January 2009 in which they said that their earlier prediction of an average to above average season was still on track. There was expected to be at least three more tropical cyclones, which would form in their area of responsibility before the end of the cyclone season on 1 May with a high chance of a tropical cyclone forming within February. They also reported that there was a significant risk of a severe Tropical Cyclone coastal impact during the remainder of the season.
to the northeast of the Cocos Islands. During the next day the low quickly developed further as it was steered on a south-easterly course by an area of persisting north-westerly steering winds. TCWC Perth, TCWC Jakarta and the JTWC then reported early on 19 November that the low had developed into a weak tropical cyclone with Perth naming it Anika. On 20 November, Anika reached its peak intensity as a Category 2 cyclone with winds of 95 km/h (60 mph) and a pressure of 984 hPa. The intensification was the result of deep convection wrapping around the center of circulation and Dvorak Technique intensity estimates reaching T3.5. Cyclone Anika passed to the north of the Cocos Islands, and cyclone warnings were cancelled later that day. Later that day, it weakened to a Category 1 cyclone. As the storm tracked over cooler waters, it continued to weaken. By 21 November, the storm weakened to a tropical low due to increasing wind shear. The next day, the Anika dissipated over open waters.
On 17 December, a tropical low formed in the Arafura Sea north-west of Darwin in the Northern Territory. It moved into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and was very slow moving. On the night of 18 December it intensified into a Category 1 cyclone and was named Billy. On 20 December, Billy made landfall as a Category 2 cyclone approximately 65 kilometres north of Wyndham. After then, it weakened to a tropical low and moved slowly south westwards. It then moved off the coast just north of Kuri Bay and redeveloped into a tropical cyclone on 22 December as the storm turned to the north-north east. Late on 24 December, Billy began to rapidly intensify and reached Category 4 strength early on 25 December and became a typical annular cyclone. Later that same day, Billy weakened into a category 3 cyclone as it replaced its eyewall and TCWC Perth issued their final tropical advice as the system was moving away from land. Billy weakened into a category 1 cyclone on 27 December and weakened into a tropical low on 28 December. Later that day, TCWC Perth issued their final advisory as it continued to weaken.
On 20 December, an area of low pressure, associated with developing convection, formed about 1000 km (560 mi) east of Darwin in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The next day, the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin designated the system as a tropical low.Banding features developed along the southern portion of the system and further development was anticipated as the low was located underneath an anticyclone. Around 5:26 a.m. local time on 23 December, the low made landfall near Port Roper, preventing further development of the storm. About 36 hours after landfall, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued their final advisory on the system as it dissipated over land.
On 23 December, TCWC Brisbane noted that a weak tropical low had formed within the Solomon Sea, about 1330 kilometres to the north east of Cairns. Over the next few days the low moved towards the south west into the Coral Sea.
On 8 January, TCWC Darwin identified a Tropical Low in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria. The next day TCWC Brisbane begin to issue advices on the low issuing Cyclone Watches for coastal communities between Aurukun on the Cape York Peninsula and the Northern Territory/Queensland border. On 11 January, the Tropical Low developed into Tropical Cyclone Charlotte, and on 12 January at 4:00am (AEST), crossed the coast near the Gilbert River Mouth with wind gusts of 120 km/h (70 mph).
Heavy rains, estimated at over 150 mm (5.9 in), from Tropical Cyclone Charlotte flooded at least 100 homes in low-lying areas on Cape York including Babinda, Mount Sophia and at Normanton. The rains also caused mudslides which, as described by an affected home-owner "...it's just mud, mud everywhere". The main road to Karumba was also cut off by flood waters. Damages from the storm are estimated at $15 million (USD).
On 22 January, TCWC Perth noted that Tropical Low 08U had formed overland, to the north of Broome in North-West Australia. JTWC had upgrade this system become a significant tropical cyclone as "good". On 25 January at 11:15am (AWDT), TCWC Perth issued a Tropical Cyclone Warning for coastal areas from Wickham to Exmouth. Later that day, the JTWC issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert as a tropical cyclone was likely to form within the following 48 hours. TCWC Perth begun issuing advices for the developing tropical low and posted tropical cyclone warning along the far western coastline of the Western Australia region. On 26 January, the system became Tropical Cyclone Dominic. Further intensification followed and Dominic was upgraded to a Category 2 cyclone several hours later. Morning of 27 January, Dominic made landfall just after 7am (AWDT) near Onslow. Later that day Dominic weakened to a Category 1 cyclone before weakening into a tropical low during the day. JTWC issued its last advisory on this system on 27 January as it continued to weaken inland.
The formation of Dominic in an area that produces significant amounts of oil resulted in numerous evacuations of offshore oil platforms. The platforms remained closed for several days until the storm dissipated, resulting in a loss of roughly 200,000 barrels (32,000 m3)
per day, increasing global gasoline prices. A red alert was declared for Onslow In preparations for the landfall of Dominic a crane worker was killed in Port Hedland while dismantling a crane.
In Onslow, the roof of the local library was blown off, resulting in flooding within the building. A nearby hospital also sustained flood damage. Several trees and power lines were downed by high winds and some roads were flooded.
Following the storm, the shires of Ashburton, Carnarvon, Upper Gascoyne, Murchison, Yalgoo, Moora, Northam, York, Quairading and Beverley were eligible for disaster assistance from the Australian Government.
Early on 30 January, the TCWC in Brisbane noted that a Tropical Low, had formed within a monsoon trough. Later that day the JTWC, reported that multi spectral imagery had shown a developing low level circulation center with deep convection located over the western quadrant of the Low level circulation centre. Late the next day the Bureau of Meteorology reported that the low had intensified into a tropical cyclone and assigned the name of Ellie to the cyclone. They also reported that Ellie had reached its peak winds of 80 km/h, (50 mph), which made Ellie a Category one cyclone on the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale. Later that day the Joint Typhoon Warning Center initiated issuing warnings on Ellie designating it as Tropical Cyclone 12P and also reported peak wind speeds of 75 km/h, (45 mph) which made Ellie equivalent to a Tropical Storm on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. Ellie made landfall near Mission Beach at about Midnight AEST, 2 February (1400 UTC), as a Category 1 system and weakened into a Tropical Low. TCWC Brisbane was expecting Tropical Low ex-Ellie to move back over the Coral Sea within 24 to 36 hours after Ellie made landfall and possibly reintensify into a tropical cyclone. However, this did not happen. The low that had been Ellie redeveloped within the south eastern Gulf of Carpentaria. Torrential rain from the remnants of Ellie flooded areas in Northern Queensland, causing about A$110 million (US$70.7 million) in damages. In Ingham, between Cairns and Townsville, some 50 homes were flooded, with 32 people evacuated to emergency accommodation at a local high school.
On 2 February, TCWC Perth noted that a Tropical Low had developed in the monsoon trough, which was located over the Kimberly region. On 3 February, at 03:45 WDT TCWC Perth issued a cyclone watch for the area between Kalumburu and Broome as the storm continued to move west winds intensified to 75 km/h and warning that the storm may develop into a cyclone later in the day. The system was located 500 km north west of Port Hedland on 5 February and is forecasted to continue moving westward into the Indian Ocean and strengthen into a cyclone although its not expected to affect the West Australian coast line. On 6 February at 1200Z, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center identified the system as Tropical Cyclone 14S. Freddy tracked slowly south westward and steadily weakened as it was affected by more shear and cooler waters. The JTWC issued its final advisory on 9 February, as the system had dissipated. The outer bands of Freddy produced heavy rains in Indonesia. A landslide triggered by these rains killed two people.
On 18 February, the extra tropical remnants of Cyclone Innis, briefly curved into the Australian Region, as a result the remnants were designated as Tropical Low 13U by TCWC Brisbane. However as Innis was expected to recurve into the South Pacific within 24 hours primary warning responsibility remained with TCWC Wellington. Later that day Innis recurved into the south Pacific.
On 25 February, TCWC Darwin reported a Tropical Low developed within the monsoon trough west of Darwin, Northern Territory. JTWC forecasted of this system becoming a tropical cyclone as "fair". The next early morning TCWC Perth begun issuing tropical cyclone advices on the developing low, posting a cyclone watch for the Pilbara coastal areas. On 26 February, JTWC upgraded the system's chances to "good" and issued the Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert. The low made landfall over Port Hedland without becoming a tropical cyclone.
The tropical low dropped upwards of 112 mm (4.4 in) of rain along the Pilbara coast, causing minor flooding. Flood warnings and watches were issued for areas around several rivers due to the rains.
Gabrielle formed out of a low pressure system that quickly developed. It begin to move south east and soon weakened into a tropical low. It slowly tracked south and south westwardly, it slowly reintensified and gained tropical cyclone status. As an anticyclone possibly forming to the south of the system. This might have allowed the storm to strengthen a bit before dissipating over cooler waters later in the week, but it then unexpectedly turned the west and dissipated on 5 March.
Bureau of Meteorology in Perth noted that in post-analysis determined that Gabrielle did not meet the minimum requirements of a tropical cyclone by the Australian definition. Gales were observed in one quadrant or another throughout most of Gabrielle's life but at no one time did they extend more than halfway around the low level circulation center.
On 4 March, a weak Tropical Low developed in an active trough located over the north western Coral Sea slowly moving south east. The low began to intensify despite its proximity to land. At 11pm EST (1100 UTC), the Tropical Low developed into Tropical Cyclone Hamish and convective band begin to develop. The next day, the cyclone strengthened into a Category 2 cyclone, and by the 11pm advisory, had strengthen further to a Category 3 Severe Tropical Cyclone and a defined eye showed on the satellite. Later that day it begin to affect the north eastern Queensland. On 7 March, Hamish was located approximately 230 kilometres from Cairns with the Bureau of Meteorology expecting Hamish to intensify into a Category 4 with the cyclone expecting to brush through near Mackay on Sunday night or Monday morning. during that day Hamish had intensified to a Category 4 cyclone. Later that day the storm intensified into a Category 5 cyclone, the first since Cyclone George, during its closest approach to Hayman Island. During 8 March, Severe Tropical Cyclone Hamish weakened to a Category 4 cyclone. The cyclone was forecasted to make landfall near Bundaberg however the Bureau of Meteorology then expected Hamish not to make landfall and to continue to move in a south easterly direction and slowly weaken. A trawler caught in rough seas produced by the storm sent out a distress signal as it was overcome by the storm. Rescue attempts to retrieve the three crew members were hampered by Hamish and were called off but expected to resume of 10 March. On 10 March 11am EST (0100 UTC) Hamish had weakened to a Category 3 cyclone with the Bureau of Meteorology is expected that Hamish slow and continue to weaken. On 11 March 7am EST (2100 UTC) the Hamish weakened further to a Category 2 cyclone with the Bureau of Meteorology expected Hamish to continually be slow moving and weaken, with the cyclone beginning to move in a north west direction later in the day. The storm continued to weaken and BoM downgraded it to a tropical low later that day.
On 12 March, TCWC Darwin identified that a weak tropical low had formed in the Arafura Sea. On 17 March, TCWC Perth began issuing shipping warnings for the developing tropical low. The low developed into Tropical Cyclone Ilsa late on 17 March. Ilsa became a Category 3 Severe Tropical Cyclone on the evening of 19 March and continued to intensify, despite predictions that Ilsa would weaken. Ilsa quickly strengthened the next morning to a Category 4 cyclone, despite predictions that the cyclone would weaken before reaching that intensity. Steady weakening began soon after; Ilsa was downgraded to a Category 3 cyclone on 20 March and to Category 1 on 23 March. On 24 March, the cyclone was downgraded to a tropical low and advisories were discontinued.
On 19 March, TCWC Brisbane identified that a weak tropical low had formed in the Coral Sea near 13S, 153E. Conditions remained unfavourable for development and the storm rapidly dissipated.
Forming in the same area as Cyclone Hamish did earlier in March, officials along the Sunshine Coast feared that it could track towards the disaster zones along the Queensland coast. The storm could hinder clean-up efforts of the large oil spill caused by Hamish. Another fear was that residents would panic upon hearing of another approaching cyclone, leading to unnecessary evacuations. Up to 68 mm (2.6 in) of rain fell in South Johnstone.
On 23 March, the remnants of Tropical Low 20U combined with areas of the monsoon trough to form a new low pressure system. This area rapidly consolidated into a new Tropical Low and on 24 March, developed into Tropical Cyclone Jasper in the eastern Coral Sea. Jasper exited the Australian region and entered into the South Pacific, RSMC Nadi region of responsibility. It then weakened unexpectedly and dissipated as it began to move off the coast of New Caledonia.
Early on 11 April, Tropical Disturbance 15F moved into TCWC Brisbane's area of responsibility and was re-designated as Tropical Low 22U. Over the next couple of days, the disturbance remained weak as it moved towards the southern tip of Papua New Guinea. The tropical low then dissipated on 13 April.
On 18 April, TCWC Darwin and TCWC Jakarta reported that a weak tropical low, had developed within the Arafura Sea near the Tanimbar Islands. Over the next week, the low remained weak as it moved towards the eastwards, before it turned towards the northwest during 25 April.JTWC reported the system's chances forming into a significant Tropical Cyclone within 24 hours as "poor". Later on 26 April, JTWC upgraded the low's chances of forming from "poor" to "fair" and later in afternoon the low strengthened with JTWC upgrading the low from "fair" to "good" and issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert. Joint Typhoon Warning Center designated the system as Tropical Cyclone 27S later on 27 April. In the afternoon, TCWC Darwin upgraded 23U to a Category 1 tropical cyclone and designated it as Tropical Cyclone Kirrily. Later that day, as it made landfall over Aru Islands, the low weakened slightly and JTWC downgraded Kirrily to tropical depression, and TCWC Darwin downgraded Kirrily to a tropical low. In the afternoon of the 27th, the JTWC again upgraded Kirrily into tropical storm. In the afternoon of the next day, JTWC issued their final warning on Kirrily (27S) and BoM downgraded the storm to a tropical low.
The following tropical lows were also monitored by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, however all of these systems were either short lived or did not develop significantly. On 21 November the remnant tropical disturbance of Tropical Storm Bernard, moved into the Australian region before it was last noted later that day.
TCWC Jakarta monitored Tropical Cyclones from the Equator to 10S and from 90E to 125E. No tropical depressions reached Tropical Cyclone strength within Jakarta's Area of Responsibility .
No names were used in TCWC Jakarta's Area of Responsibility during this season.
TCWC Port Moresby
Tropical cyclones that might have developed north of 10°S between 141°E and 160°E would have been assigned names by the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Tropical cyclone formation in this area is rare, with no cyclones developing in it since 2007.
No names were used in TCWC Port Moresby's Area of Responsibility during this season.
Australian Bureau of Meteorology
Each Australian Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre (Perth, Darwin, and Brisbane) maintains a list of names arranged alphabetically and alternating male and female. Except from the start of the 2008-09 Tropical Cyclone Year, there will only be one list that the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) will use to name Tropical Cyclones. BOM monitored all tropical cyclones that formed between 90°E and 160°E, issuing special advisories when a cyclone formed in either TCWC Jakarta's or Port Moresby's area of responsibility.
The names used this season were:
Note: After Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle had dissipated, it was determined that Gabrielle had never reached tropical cyclone intensity.
Note: In June 2009, Severe Tropical Cyclone Hamish was retired by the Bureau of Meteorology. No other names used during the 2008-09 cyclone season was retired.