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March 2, 2013 - Tropical Cyclone Rusty (17S) over Western Australia
Tropical Cyclone Rusty (17S) over Western Australia Image used for Spacing Purposes
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 2/26/2013
Resolutions: 1km (1.1 MB)
500m (3.5 MB)
250m (8.3 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz
MODIS Land Rapid Response Team,

NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over Australia on February 26, 2013 as a strengthening Tropical Cyclone Rusty slowly approached landfall. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard captured this stunning image of the massive storm at 0545 UTC on that same day, when the large eye hung just off the coast, aiming for Port Headland, Western Australia.

On February 27, Tropical Cyclone Rusty made landfall along the Pilbara coast at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST/U.S. and 5 p.m. WST local time), about 68.3 miles (110 kilometers) east-northeast of Port Hedland, near Pardoo. After crossing the coast, Tropical Cyclone Rusty slowly moved inland over eastern Pilbara, dousing the region with heavy rains.

The catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide reported that Tropical Cyclone Rusty came ashore with 1-minute sustained winds of 136 km/h [85 mph] and gusts to 170 km/h [106 mph]. This wind speed put Rusty as a Category 3 storm by the Australian system of cyclone classification, or a Category 1 storm on the U.S. Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Before moving inland, Rusty spun virtually in place, bringing heavy rain and pounding waves to the Pilbara Coast. The Australian ABC News website reported Port Hedland suffered a record-breaking 36-hour period of gale force winds. Although intense, the winds caused minimal damage, and that was primarily downed trees although some buildings were damaged. Shipping and the major offshore oil and gas fields were undamaged. The torrential rain, however, has caused flooding in some areas of Pilbara, especially near Pardon.

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