cyclone mahina

Divers were tethered to a lugger but were at constant risk of attack by sharks and crocodiles, as well as decompression sickness (‘the bends’). On 4 March 1899 this category 5 cyclone caused one of Australia's worst natural disasters killing over 400 people and destroying the pearling fleet berthed at Bathurst Bay. 900 hPa, Category 5 Australian region cyclone in 1899, Whittingham, H. E. 1958, The Bathurst Bay Hurricane and associated storm surge. Much, indeed, do we regret that we have no means of advising the lightships and pearling fleets of the approach of storms between Cooktown and Torres Straits.
3, 1972, pp. AJEM Autumn 2000 - How high was the storm surge from Tropical Cyclone Mahina? North Queensland, 1899, Australia's worst cyclones: timeline, National Geographic. Over 100 Aboriginal people died trying to help the shipwrecked. Cyclone Mahina was the deadliest tropical cyclone in Australia’s recorded history, and probably one of the most intense ever recorded. He also noted the development of a second cyclone, Nachon, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. On 8 March Wragge wrote that he ‘feared Mahina will not prove as soft and gentle as the Tahitian maiden of that name, for it is likely to give us some trouble. Jeff Callaghan, ‘The Bathurst Bay hurricane, March 1899’, in Harden Up: Protecting Queensland, 2011. In Queensland the most northerly coastal signal station was at Grassy Hill, Cooktown. A tsunami of 14.6 metres swept inland for five kilometres. Northern Australia was a major supplier of pearl shell to the world. It was over by 10am the next morning. On Wednesday 19 October our monthly Out of the Port lecture by author and broadcaster Ian Townsend focused on Cyclone Mahina. The suit comprised a heavy helmet into which oxygen was supplied via a hose; weighted boots kept the operators on the ocean floor. Queensland had a pioneer in this field, Clement Wragge, who as government meteorologist from 1887 to 1902, began the custom of naming weather systems — including after politicians who had annoyed him.
Jonathan Nott, Camilla Green, Ian Townsend and Jeffrey Callaghan, ‘The world record storm surge and the most intense Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclone: New evidence and modelling’, American Meteorological Society, May 2014. Special warnings have again been sent to all coast towns and the storm signals have been hoisted for the benefit of shipping’. Norman Pixley, ‘Pearlers of North Australia: The romantic story of the diving fleets’, in Royal Historical Society of Queensland, vol. ABN 70 592 297 967  |  The National Museum of Australia is an Australian Government Agency, The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians, Australia's Defining Moments Digital Classroom. North Queensland, 1899,’ Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 15:1 (2011), 11.Queensland Government, Boom and bust, website viewed 29 April 2011. As with other seafaring occupations of the period, one of the greatest threats to the safety of pearlers was stormy weather. If the pressure of Mahina did fall to 880 hPa, this would make it one of the most intense tropical cyclones ever recorded and, according to current research, capable of producing a sea-water inundation of 13 metres.

When those stocks were exhausted fleets investigated greater depths, using schooners as floating stations which carried water and other provisions for between 10 to 20 luggers. Dive suits enabled pearlers to look for shell in waters up to 36-metres deep. A 13 m wave surge at Ninian Bay adjacent to Barrow Point (30 km south of Bathurst Bay) extended inland for 3-5 km.

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