A comment made by Innisfail Mayor Neil Clark that Larry
dwarfed Tracy is certainly not
supported by the evidence, but it reminds us that the grading of cyclones is an
issue which has yet to be resolved.

Just how do scientists compare cyclones? At the point of impact, wind
speed indicators are often destroyed because scientists do not have the
common sense to install these in sites which are free of flying debris, and so
they are quickly damaged. Then, compounding this idiocy, wind speeds are officially
recorded at the point of equipment destruction (ie Cyclone Tracy). To anyone
with a more level brand of intelligence this mocks science and renders
management based on such data farcical and possibly dangerous.

To the more lucid observer, nature provides its own irrefutable
comparisons. As ample photographic evidence demonstrates, Cyclone Tracy stripped
virtually every leaf, twig and branch off every standing tree. Footage of other
cyclones reveals most leaves surviving attached. Clearly,
Tracy was considerably more
powerful. There is other evidence; motor vehicles left exposed on uncovered open
ground during Tracy were completely
sand-blasted down to bare metal on the oceanic side. To have this happen in only
four hours indicates a wind speed of 320 kph plus, as any sandblaster operator
knows. And, of course, 70 to 90 people died in

Obviously then, there is the implication that any cyclone which behaves
as Tracy did, should be cause for special warning, more so than the current
rather confusing one-dimensional five-point category system would seem to

For a cyclone, Tracy behaved
non-normatively, more like a very large tornado, carving a slow s-shaped track
through all parts of Darwin. Urgent
research is still required to explain this behaviour and how cyclone prediction
methodology can benefit from this knowledge. There is speculation that a cyclone
which, like Tracy, hovers for days close to land, contracts and increases in intensity, forming what many
would describe as effectively a third phenomenon, somewhere between cyclone and
tornado. Such research will never be funded if the current simplistic category system is applied and there is
total reliance on the absurd “scientific proof” of broken wind speed-measuring

Peter Fray

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