Officials from the Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the unique acceleration of Tropical Cyclone Marcia from category 1 to category 5 in record time.
"Officials today said that it was the fastest progression from a low level cyclone to the most severe they could recall in Australia," Senator Matt Canavan said today.
Senator Canavan asked the officials about last week's cyclone at Senate estimates hearings in Canberra today
“Evidence was given that TC Marcia underwent ‘extraordinary intensification’ from Category 1 at 8am on Thursday, February 19 to Cat 2 by 11am, Cat 3 by 4pm, Cat 4 by 6pm and finally Cat 5 by 4am Friday before it struck the coast later that morning.”
The Director of Meteorology at the Bureau, Dr Rob Vertessy, said the cyclone was comparatively small but “very strong”.
"Tropical cyclone Marcia, while very strong, was actually quite small, about half the size of an average cyclone and more like the size of tropical cyclone Tracy in fact - with a radius of about 75 kilometres. Take something like Yasi at the other end of the extreme, which had a radius of about 250 kilometres. They are much easier to estimate the internal parameters."
Officials said the Bureau would have access to significantly improved satellite information from July this year,
“The chief way we [monitor cyclones] is using satellite imagery,” Dr Vertessy said. “Unfortunately, those images only come to us every hour. So when we get access to the new Japanese Himawari satellite in July this year we’ll be getting updates every 10 minutes. And the imagery will be about four times the resolution. So the job is going to be a lot easier.”
Senator Canavan paid tribute to the work of the Bureau and their frequent updates during the development of the crisis.
"Many organisations helped prevent casualties from last week's category 5 event but prime among these is the information provided about the strength and path of the cyclone. Without that information, local officials would have been in the dark and could not have prepared.
"There is a lot of damage in Central Queensland but we should count our blessings that the damage is to things that can be rebuilt or regrown."