Tropical Cyclone Monica formed off the northeastern coast of Australia on April 17, 2006. This is the same general area where Cyclone Larry formed a month earlier. Cyclone Monica was not anywhere near as destructive as Larry when it crossed Cape York Peninsula, but when the tropical cyclone reached the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria on the other side, it re-organized and re-intensified. Cyclone Monica became the strongest storm of the 2006 Australian cyclone season with wind gusts reaching 350 kilometers per hour (215 miles per hour) according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Cyclone Warning Centre. The Category 5 cyclone came ashore on the sparsely populated coastline of the Northern Territory, missing the city of Darwin, which had been bracing for a record storm.
This photo-like image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on April 26, 2006, at 10:55 a.m. Australian Central Standard Time (01:25 UTC). Monica by this point had fallen apart quite rapidly, and it was already below cyclone strength. Only vague remnants of its tight spiral formation could be made out in this image. However, it continued to bring very heavy rains as it traveled across the Northern Territory, with record rainfalls throughout the region. It is unusual for such a strong storm to show up so late in the season: the Northern Territory’s “wet” season (the local name for the five months from December through April when heavy rains and cyclones are common) has only a few more days left.
NASA image by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained from the Goddard Earth Sciences DAAC.