The day TC Marcia turned into a category 5 monster
THE tropical low that eventually became severe Tropical Cyclone Marcia was first identified and tracked on Sunday, February 15.
During the next several days it drifted eastward with little change in intensity.
But on Wednesday, February 18, the system turned south-west and began intensifying.
It was officially designated as Category 1 Tropical Cyclone Marcia on Wednesday evening and maintained its south-westerly track overnight into Thursday morning.
Between 8am and 6pm Thursday, Marcia underwent a period of extremely rapid intensification, increasing by three categories to a Category 4 cyclone in approximately 10 hours.
On Thursday night, it turned almost due south and intensified even further, reaching Category 5 at 4am on Friday, February 20.
Wind gusts at Middle Percy Island reached 208kmh as the cyclone passed to the east.
Marcia made landfall as a Category 5 cyclone at 8am at Shoalwater Bay, north of Yeppoon.
The cyclone then weakened steadily as it moved south over land during the day.
Yeppoon received significant damage. Wind gusts up to 156kmh were recorded there as the cyclone passed to the west.
The damage to homes in the Livingstone Shire Council area as of March 21 was 131 total destruction or severe, 153 moderate damage and 530 minor damage for a total of 814 and consistent with a low-end Category 4 system and a top-end Category 3, which means maximum wind gusts between 165kmh and 224kmh.
A storm surge of 2m was recorded at Port Alma, but luckily this occurred near low tide.
The weakening cyclone passed over Rockhampton during the early afternoon, where wind gusts to 113kmh were recorded at the airport, and again significant damage occurred.
The damage to homes in the Rockhampton region was minor 429, moderate 128 and severe 74 for a total of 631 and consistent with Category 3 cyclones, which includes maximum wind gusts between 165kmh and 224kmh.
Power was lost to 97% of the Rockhampton region and 100% of the Capricorn Coast, with around 65,000 customers affected.
More than 2000 power lines were brought down by trees and debris and supply to Ergon's primary zone substations was knocked out.
Marcia then turned to the south-south-east and impacted the town of Biloela early that evening, where wind gusts to 85kmh were recorded.
Across the Banana Shire, 64 houses were left uninhabitable, there was approximately $90 million damage to the agriculture sector and an early damage bill of $10 million for Banana Shire infrastructure.
Marcia was finally downgraded to a tropical low at 2am on Saturday.
Marcia left behind a damage bill (assessed by the State Government) of $750 million as at March 23.
This report is based on the Bureau of Meteorology's preliminary report into TC Marcia with additional information in bold provided by The Morning Bulletin reporters in relation to storm damage and cyclone categories. A full BOM report on Marcia is under way.
Cyclone Marcia 2015
Wind speeds February 20, 2015
Bureau of Meteorology site Rockhampton (Airport)