Tropical Cyclone Helen swirled just off the northern coast of Australia on January 4, 2008. The storm struck in a fairly sparsely settled part of Australia: the only major city, Darwin, is 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Channel Point, where the Category 2 storm ultimately came ashore. Winds peaked around 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour) late on January 4.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this photo-like image at 2:20 p.m. local time (4:50 UTC) on January 4, 2008. The storm had an indistinct spiral structure and a poorly defined eye, an indication that it was not a powerful storm. The long arms reach across Arnhem Land, the large peninsula that juts up in Australia’s Northern Territory between the Gulf of Carpentaria and Timor Sea. While not a strong storm as cyclones go, Helen did bring heavy rains to the area during the already soggy northern Australian monsoon season—known locally as “The Wet.”