Cyclone Kimi threatened to cross the coast at no less than five different locations, went east when she was meant to be heading west - then it fizzled out.
Cyclone Kimi threatened to cross the coast at no less than five different locations, went east when she was meant to be heading west - then it fizzled out.

Why Cyclone Kimi was impossible to track

CYCLONE Kimi threatened to cross the coast at no less than five different locations, went east when she was meant to be heading west, then stopped dead and fizzled out.

Residents along about 600km of the Queensland coastline were on various stages of alert from Sunday onwards when the system, which was never considered much chance of developing, was suddenly christened category 1 Kimi.

Track maps had it crossing near Cooktown, Port Douglas, Cairns, Innisfail and Cardwell as up to a category 2 at various times within less than 48 hours.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Dean Narramore said in his 10 year career Kimi was one of the quirkiest systems he had attempted to track.

Cyclone Kimi at 6.50pm Monday, January 18. photo: BOM
Cyclone Kimi at 6.50pm Monday, January 18. photo: BOM

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He said there were several key factors which upped the difficulty level.

The first was the size of the system, comparatively tiny compared to the monstrous Cyclone Yasi which bore down on the region a decade ago, Kimi was described - in the bureau's own technical terminology - as a "midget cyclone".

Mr Narramore said because of the system's size it was very easily influenced by other weather systems in the area which could literally buffet it in different directions.

In the past few days there has been an upper level trough and a high pressure system in the region which both exerted their force on little Kimi.

"It was being continuously moved," he said.

Mr Narramore said with big systems like Yasi, they became the dominant weather force in their area so stayed true to their course, but not with small systems.

The Bureau uses a number of different modelling programs and Kimi even had the computer systems baffled, with the models struggling to agree and changing their projections constantly.

Not helping matters even further was Kimi's location in the Coral Sea basin which Mr Narramore said was considered "one of the most, if not the most, difficult" areas in the world to predict cyclone movement.

Originally published as Why Cyclone Kimi was impossible to track - even for the experts


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