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Monthly Global Tropical Cyclone Summary March 1998
[Summaries and Track Data] [Prepared by Gary Padgett]


                               MARCH, 1998

  (For general comments about the nature of these summaries, as well as
  information on how to download the tabular cyclone track files, see
  the Author's Note at the end of this summary.)


  --> South Indian Ocean active but storms remain at sea
  --> Vanuatu suffers damage from two cyclones


              CORRECTIONS and UPDATES to Earlier Summaries

     I have received some additional information from the South Indian
  Basin on February cyclones, a correction to an observation reported
  in the December summary, and some brief damage reports from French

  (1) Observations from Mauritius during Tropical Cyclone Anacelle

     Arvind Mungur of London sent some information regarding the effects
  of Anacelle as it passed about 65 nm east of Mauritius on 11 Feb.  The
  capital, Port Louis, recorded 125 mm of rain that day.  Barometric
  pressure fell to 986.1 mb, but wind gusts did not exceed hurricane
  force.  No details were given about the effects of this cyclone on
  St. Brandon.

  (2) Report on an unnamed tropical depression

     Arvind Mungur also sent the following information (slightly edited):

     A low-pressure area deluged Mauritius and especially Reunion in late
  February.  From 18-25 Feb Reunion recorded 1700 mm of rain with 572 mm
  coming in 24 hrs on the 24th!  This deluge caused severe flood damage,
  landslides and powercuts--the worst rain damage in several years.  The
  peak rainfall in Mauritius occurred on 25 Feb (240 mm in 24 hrs).
  According to news reports the depression passed about 80 nm southeast
  of Mauritius on the 25th and caused mean winds of 20 kts with gusts
  reaching 46 kts.   The lack of warnings (the system was not classed as
  a storm) caught the island by surprise, and there were many complaints
  directed at weather forecasters and reporters for not warning the
  public effectively--especially since conditions were as bad as during
  Anacelle when warnings were in effect.  Surface observations suggest
  that this depression peaked at 25-30 kts on 25 Feb before heading

  NOTE:  I am not sure how this system was handled by the responsible
  warning agencies in the South Indian Ocean.  No warnings were issued
  on this system by JTWC.

  (3) Connection between TC-21S and TC-23S (Beltane)

     Julian Heming of the Bracknell (UK) Meteorological Office sent the

     I thought you might be interested to know that the TC warning centre
  at La Reunion considered TC-21S and TC-23S (Beltane) to be the same
  system.  I discussed this with Frank Wells of JTWC who thought there
  was probably enough of a gap when the system was not clearly identi-
  fiable to justify classifying TC-23S as a new TC.  However, La Reunion
  in their advisories continued to track the system back northward again
  after JTWC had ended TC-21S.  It crossed Madagascar a second time and
  reformed in the Mozambique Channel when JTWC commenced advisories on

  (4) Tropical Cyclone Pam (SWP in Dec) observation dated incorrectly

     Mark Kersemakers of the Fiji TCWC at Nadi uncovered an observation
  from Rarotonga that had the wrong date.  Reference the paragraph in
  the December summary which begins with "Pam passed about 40 nm south-
  west of Rarotonga at 0600 UTC on 9 Dec."   The text subsequently
  reports that the lowest pressure of 986 mb wasn't recorded until
  10/0600 UTC--with a comment that this was rather strange.  Mark sent
  the following explanation:

     CORRECTION: the 10/0600 UTC should have been 09/0600 UTC.  The
  information sent by me was wrong due to the forecaster who compiled
  it not allowing for the dateline change--the barograph was in local
  time.  The time was converted but the date was not.  This change no
  longer makes the pressure strange.

  (5) Damage report from French Polynesia

     Steve Ready of the New Zealand Meteorological Service has sent a
  little information regarding the effects of Tropical Cyclones Ursula
  and Veli in the area of French Polynesia in early February.   These
  cyclones caused damage to three islands in the Tuamotu group: Mataiva,
  Rangiroa, and Makatea.  Mataiva was the worst struck with 39 houses
  damaged, bridges down, roads washed away; Makatea had 5 houses damaged
  while the airstrip on Rangiroa was inconvenienced by wash-up of coral
  and sand.   Ursula was the stronger of the two with damage due to pre-
  cyclone swell rather than winds.  Fortunately there was no loss of

  NOTE:  A very special thanks to Arvind, Julian, Mark and Steve for
  passing the above addenda/corrections on to me.


                           ACTIVITY BY BASINS

  ATLANTIC (ATL) - North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones


  NORTHEAST PACIFIC (NEP) - North Pacific Ocean East of Longitude 180

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones


  NORTHWEST PACIFIC (NWP) - North Pacific Ocean West of Longitude 180

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones


  NORTH INDIAN OCEAN (NIO) - Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea

  Activity for March:  No tropical cyclones


  SOUTH INDIAN OCEAN (SIO) - South Indian Ocean West of Longitude 90E

  Activity for March: 1 tropical cyclone of gale intensity
                      1 tropical cyclone of storm intensity
                      1 tropical cyclone of hurricane intensity

  NOTE:  The only sources of information on South Indian cyclones I have
  available for the time being are the warnings issued by JTWC.   All the
  winds reported in the narrative are 1-min average maximum sustained

              Tropical Cyclone Donaline (TC-26S)   6-10 March

     The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) on Guam issued the first
  warning on a developing depression in the west-central South Indian
  Ocean at 1200 UTC on 6 Mar, locating the system about 250 nm northeast
  of Rodrigues Island.  (Rodrigues lies about 315 nm slightly north of
  due east of Mauritius.)   The depression had become a tropical storm
  with 40-kt winds by 07/0000 UTC.  Initially Donaline drifted generally
  in an eastward direction, but by 0000 UTC on 8 Mar was moving to the
  south.  Peak intensity of 55 kts was reached at this time when the
  cyclone was centered about 400 nm east of Rodrigues.    Afterward
  Donaline began to weaken and accelerate off to the south-southeast.
  The low-level circulation center had become completely exposed due to
  shear by 09/1200 UTC.  The system had weakened to below gale force
  12 hrs later, and the last warning, issued at 1200 UTC on 10 Mar,
  located the center about 750 nm southeast of Rodrigues.

               Tropical Cyclone Elsie (TC-27S)   12-17 March

     JTWC issued the first warning on a rapidly developing tropical
  system in the central Indian Ocean at 0000 UTC on 12 Mar.  The system
  was located about 850 nm southeast of Diego Garcia.  Scatterometer
  data from a pass at 11/1720 UTC showed a narrow vortex of 35-kt winds
  around a low-level center with a band of 30-kt winds in the southeast
  quadrant.  Concurrent satellite imagery showed spiral bands forming
  west and east of the center.     Elsie moved generally in a south-
  southwesterly direction for the next five days, reaching a peak
  intensity of 90 kts at 1200 UTC on 13 Mar, only 36 hrs after the first
  warning was issued.   The cyclone at this time was centered about
  1000 nm east of Rodrigues Island.

     Elsie weakened just as quickly as it had intensified--by 14/1200
  UTC the storm was experiencing moderate shear and winds had decreased
  to minimal hurricane force.  The south-southwesterly motion came to a
  halt after 0000 UTC on 17 Mar and the weakening system turned to the
  southeast.   The last JTWC warning, issued at 17/1200 UTC, placed the
  center about 950 nm east-southeast of Rodrigues.   The final warning
  indicated that extratropical transition was expected to be complete
  within 24 hrs.

              Tropical Cyclone Fiona (TC-28S)   17-20 March

     JTWC issued the first warning on Tropical Cyclone 28-S (to be named
  Fiona by the Mauritius TCWC) at 0000 UTC on 17 Mar.  The center of
  this rapidly developing cyclone was located about 150 nm northwest of
  Rodrigues.   The initial warning estimated the maximum sustained winds
  at 40 kts, and mentioned that conditions were ripe for continued rapid
  strengthening:  poleward outflow was linked up with mid-latitude
  westerlies, a small CDO feature was present, and spiral bands indicated
  good cross equatorial flow in the north and east quadrants.  But the
  anticipated intensification never happened.  A passing shortwave trough
  inhibited further development and winds were decreased to 35 kts in
  the next warning.   During this time Fiona had drifted westward to a
  position about 215 nm northeast of Mauritius.

     The weak storm next moved to the southeast for about 24 hrs but then
  curved back to the west.  After the trough had lifted out Fiona gained
  a little in intensity, but vertical shear never really lessened enough
  to allow the cyclone to intensify further.   Fiona passed about 75 nm
  east of Mauritius at around 1500 UTC on 19 Mar with 40-kt winds.
  Continuing on to the south, the system began to slowly weaken once more
  with the last warning placing the center about 225 nm east-southeast
  of La Reunion at 20/1200 UTC.

     Newspaper reports stated that wind gusts up to 38 kts were recorded
  in the eastern portion of Mauritius as Fiona passed by, but there were
  no rainfall nor pressure observations mentioned.  (Thanks to Arvind
  Mungur for passing along this bit of information.)


  AUSTRALIAN REGION (AUS) - From Longitude 90E Eastward to Longitude 160E

  Activity for March: 1 tropical cyclone of storm intensity
                      1 former tropical cyclone (extratropical or hybrid)

  NOTE:  Some of the material presented on Tropical Cyclone Nathan is
  taken from the March Darwin Tropical Diagnostic Statement.  Thanks
  to Sam Cleland for sending that report to me.    Unless stated other-
  wise, references to sustained winds imply a 10-min averaging period.

           Tropical Cyclone Nathan (TC-30P)   21-31 March

     Tropical Cyclone Nathan developed from a LOW embedded in the weak
  monsoon trough soon after Yali had reached tropical cyclone intensity
  farther east.  Although upper-level outflow was favorable, mid-level
  shear restricted rapid development.   Nathan developed rather quickly
  initially--the first warning, issued at 0000 UTC on 21 Mar, classified
  the system as a 40-kt tropical cyclone just east of the northern Cape
  York Peninsula, or about 300 nm north-northwest of Cooktown on the
  Queensland coast.  During its early stages Nathan dropped up to 400 mm
  of rain on the northern and eastern portions of the peninsula.

     Being a small system in an environment of weak steering flow, Nathan
  moved slowly and erratically--generally eastward away from the coast,
  and then in a southerly direction, coming to within 100 nm of Cooktown
  at 23/1200 UTC.  The Brisbane TCWC consistently reported Nathan's
  maximum 10-min average winds at 45-50 kts throughout most of its
  life, but JTWC briefly elevated the storm to minimal hurricane status
  at 65 kts (1-min avg) from 1200 to 1800 UTC on the 23rd.     After
  approaching the Queensland coast, Nathan came under the steering
  influence of the broad monsoon flow that had been dragged south by
  Tropical Cyclone Yali.     The cyclone began moving in an east-
  northeasterly direction at an accelerated pace, becoming more easterly
  after 25/0000 UTC.

     By 0000 UTC on 26 Mar Nathan was located about 275 nm southwest of
  Honiara on Guadalcanal and was becoming sheared.     This shearing
  process was possibly related to the large extratropical (or hybrid)
  system to the south which had been Yali.  Nathan curved to the south
  on the 27th and Brisbane downgraded the system to a depression and
  ceased issuing advices.  By 27/1200 UTC the cyclone was located about
  200 nm north-northeast of the Chesterfield Islands and was showing some
  signs of re-intensification.  A CDO feature had regenerated and spiral
  bands were wrapping into a well-defined center; therefore, JTWC upped
  the winds to 45 kts and continued to issue warnings on Nathan.  The
  system then began to move back to the west and slowly weakened as it
  approached Australia once more.

     A scatterometer pass on 29 Mar indicated a small area possibly
  containing 35-kt winds, and a 30/0000 UTC observation from Willis
  Island reported 30-kt easterly winds.   JTWC kept Nathan as a minimal
  tropical cyclone until 0000 UTC on 31 Mar, when it was downgraded to
  a weakening depression about 150 nm north-northwest of Cooktown.

              Tropical Cyclone Yali (TC-29P)   25-27 March

     Tropical Cyclone Yali, which had spent most of its life in the Fiji
  area of warning responsibility, moved westward across 160E around
  1200 UTC on 25 March into the Australian region for a couple of days
  before undergoing rapid deepening as an extratropical cyclone and
  pommelling New Zealand with high winds and seas and heavy rains.
  Yali was not a true tropical cyclone by the time it entered Australian
  waters.  It had been captured by an upper LOW and was somewhat like the
  hybrid storm systems which are occasionally seen in North Atlantic
  subtropical waters and usually referred to as subtropical cyclones.
  Fiji and Brisbane regarded the system as extratropical while Guam
  continued to issue tropical cyclone warnings until 27/0000 UTC.  For
  the complete history of Tropical Cyclone Yali, see the section of
  this summary covering the Southwest Pacific Basin.


  SOUTHWEST PACIFIC (SWP) - South Pacific Ocean East of Longitude 160E

  Activity for March:  1 tropical depression
                       2 tropical cyclones of hurricane intensity

  NOTE:  Thanks to Steve Ready of the New Zealand Meteorological Service
  at Wellington for passing along some information on Tropical Cyclone
  Yali.   Also, some of the material on Yali is taken from the March
  Darwin Tropical Diagnostic Statement.     Unless stated otherwise,
  references to sustained winds imply a 10-min averaging period.

                 Tropical Depression   28 February-2 March

     A tropical depression had formed in the southeastern Solomon Islands
  on 28 Feb near Santa Cruz Island.  At 0000 UTC on 1 Mar the depression
  was centered about 350 nm east-southeast of Honiara on Guadalcanal.
  Over the next couple of days the system drifted generally in an
  easterly to southeasterly direction without significant strengthening.
  By 02/0600 UTC the last bulletin issued by Nadi located the depression
  about 250 nm northeast of Port Vila in Vanuatu.   Winds in the eastern
  semi-circle were forecast to possibly reach gale force on 2 Mar but
  the system did not develop into an organized tropical cyclone.

                Tropical Cyclone Yali (TC-29P)  18-27 March

     A well-defined low pressure system was identified in the Southwest
  Pacific on 18 Mar and drifted to the west between Vanuatu and the
  Solomon Islands while slowly strengthening.   Yali was named by the
  Nadi TCWC at 1800 UTC on 19 Mar when located about 350 nm due north-
  west of Port Vila, Vanuatu.  The first JTWC warning at 18/1200 UTC,
  centering the LOW about 350 nm north-northwest of Port Vila, classified
  the system as a minimal tropical cyclone with 35-kt (1-min) winds.  Up
  to this time Yali had been tracking to the southwest, but by 0600 UTC
  on 20 Mar the cyclone had begun moving on a southeasterly track due to
  a strengthening of the northwest monsoon flow to the north of the

     For the next two-and-a-half days Yali moved on a southeastward
  course, passing west of the main islands of Vanuatu but finally coming
  close enough to brush the southernmost islands of Tanna and Aneityum.
  Yali reached hurricane force at 21/1200 UTC when located about 100 nm
  west-northwest of Port Vila.    The center of the hurricane passed
  about 60 nm west of Port Vila around 0000 UTC on 22 Mar but no strong
  winds were reported.   Peak intensity of 70 kts (10-min avg) with an
  estimated central pressure of 965 mb was attained at 22/0600 UTC when
  Yali was centered about 80 nm south of Port Vila, which reported winds
  of only 11 kts and a pressure of 992 mb.  (It is possible that the low
  wind reading was due to poor exposure of the instrument.)

     By 1800 UTC on 22 Mar Tropical Cyclone Yali had reached its eastern-
  most position about 200 nm southeast of Port Vila.  The upper ridge to
  its north had intensified, increasing shear and restricting convection;
  consequently Yali began to weaken, dropping below hurricane force.  At
  the same time a mid-level subtropical ridge to the south began to
  impact its motion with easterly flow forcing a westward component to
  its track.       As Yali moved to the southwest and slowly weakened,
  the wind field was becoming quite asymmetric.    At 23/0000 UTC gales
  were reported 90 nm to the north but 150 nm to the south.   Matthew
  Island, about 130 nm southeast of the center, reported east winds of
  40 kts.   The main convection at this time was about 140 nm south of
  the center.

     At 1200 UTC on 23 Mar Yali was located about 125 nm east of Noumea,
  New Caledonia with 45-kt winds.   The weakening cyclone passed just
  south of New Caledonia late on 23 Mar (UTC) as it continued on its
  southwesterly track.  By 25/0000 UTC an upper LOW had captured the
  cyclone with cold air cumulus working around the west and north sides
  of the circulation.  Yali had become a hybrid-type cyclone of the
  type often referred to in the North Atlantic as a subtropical cyclone.
  Fiji downgraded the system to an extratropical system and discontinued
  advisories.   JTWC continued to track Yali southwestward in the general
  direction of Australia.

     The semi-tropical Yali slowed and moved more on a westerly track
  as it approached and crossed 160E on 24 and 25 Mar.  By 26/1200 UTC
  the center of the large cyclone was about 300 nm east-northeast of
  Brisbane.  Some convection was noted re-developing about 90 nm south
  of the elongated center with gales likely affecting the Australian
  coast on 26 and 27 Mar.  By 0000 UTC on 27 Mar the cyclone was moving
  more quickly to the south with the final JTWC warning placing the
  center about 325 nm east-southeast of Brisbane.

     Yali underwent a transformation over the Tasman Sea.  It came under
  the influence of a double jet structure (equatorward entrance of one,
  polar exit of another) and strong cyclonic vorticity advection at
  500 mb.  The system deepened and moved rapidly towards the southern
  end of New Zealand's South Island.  Its central pressure lay between
  970-975 mb as it crossed the coast on 29 Mar.  Wind damage was reported
  over a wide area--roofs lifted, flying debris, trees toppled, power
  lines down.  Heavy rain was experienced in the western and southern
  portions of the South Island over a 6-12 hr period, but fortunately
  the fast-moving nature of the storm prevented any significant rain
  flooding.   The passage of Yali coincided with exceptionally high
  tides, causing sea flooding near Nelson and Westport.  One youth was
  washed into the sea near New Plymouth (central North Island) and
  drowned.   After passing New Zealand the remains of Yali eventually
  became absorbed into the circumpolar trough between 65S and 75S.

     Some of the southernmost islands of Vanuatu: Aniwa, the northern
  and western portions of Tanna, and the southern and western sides
  of Erromango, suffered rather severe damage from Yali.  About 60-70%
  of the crops and 30% of the houses were badly damaged by winds with
  some damage to roads on Tanna.  Both Tanna and Aniwa had suffered
  from a drought before the cyclone came along so stocks of food were
  quite low.  Only minor damage was reported elsewhere in Vanuatu.

               Tropical Cyclone Zuman (TC-31P)   29 Mar-->

     The tropical depression that was to develop into Tropical Cyclone
  Zuman was first noted about 300 nm northeast of Port Vila in Vanuatu
  at 2100 UTC on 29 Mar.   The system had become a tropical cyclone and
  was named at 1200 UTC the next day when centered about 250 nm north-
  northeast of Vila.  Zuman moved westward until around 0600 UTC on
  31 March as it steadily strengthened, then took a turn to the south-
  west and intensified quite rapidly.  The cyclone had struck the island
  of Espiritu Santo by 0000 UTC on 1 Apr with sustained 10-min winds
  estimated at 80 kts.  Early reports indicate that the island incurred
  rather heavy damage from the cyclone.    Next month's summary will
  contain a full report on Tropical Cyclone Zuman.


  AUTHOR'S NOTE:  This summary should be considered a very preliminary
  overview of the tropical cyclones that occur in each month. The cyclone
  tracks (provided separately) will generally be based upon operational
  warnings issued by the various tropical cyclone warning centers.  The
  information contained therein may differ somewhat from the tracking and
  intensity information obtained from a "best-track" file which is based
  on a detailed post-seasonal analysis of all available data. Information
  on where to find official "best-track" files from the various warning
  centers will be passed along from time to time.

    The track files are not being sent via e-mail.  They can be retrieved
  in the following manner:

       (a) FTP to: []
       (b) Login as: anonymous
       (c) For a password use your e-mail address
       (d) The files will be named with an obvious nomenclature--using
           March as an example:   mar98.tracks

    Both the summaries and the track files are standard text files
  created in DOS editor.  Download to disk and use a viewer such as
  Notepad or DOS editor to view the files.

    The March summary is the sixth cyclone summary in this series;
  the first one covering the month of October, 1997.  If anyone did
  not receive any of the previous summaries, they may be downloaded
  from the aforementioned FTP site at HRD.   The summary files are
  catalogued with the nomenclature:  oct97.sum, for example.

    Back issues can also be obtained from the following website
  (courtesy of Michael Bath):>

    The preliminary storm reports for all the 1997 Atlantic and Eastern
  North Pacific tropical cyclones are available on the Tropical
  Prediction Center's website:> .  These
  reports include the analyzed best-track for each cyclone.  The staff
  of JTWC is also working on an on-line version of their Annual Tropical
  Cyclone Report for 1997.  It is still under construction, but the
  best-track files are already available for 1997 Northwestern Pacific
  and North Indian Ocean cyclones.  The URL is:>

  Prepared by: Gary Padgett
  Phone:  334-222-5327


Document: summ9803.htm
Updated: 18th March 2008

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