Severe Tropical Cyclone Ada was a small but intense tropical cyclone that severely impacted the Whitsunday Region of Queensland, Australia, in January 1970. Ada killed a total of 14 people, including 11 at sea, and caused A$12 million in damage. In January 2020, on the 50th anniversary of the disaster, a memorial to the storm victims was erected along the shoreline at Airlie Beach.
About Cyclone Ada in brief
Severe Tropical Cyclone Ada was a small but intense tropical cyclone that severely impacted the Whitsunday Region of Queensland, Australia, in January 1970. Ada killed a total of 14 people, including 11 at sea, and caused A$12 million in damage. The cyclone revealed inadequacies in the warning broadcast system, and served as the impetus for enhanced cyclone awareness programs that have been credited with saving lives in subsequent cyclones. In January 2020, on the 50th anniversary of the disaster, a memorial to the storm victims was erected along the shoreline at Airlie Beach. Ada was first noted by weather satellite imagery as a disorganised area of disturbed weather over the eastern Coral Sea on 5 January. In the early stages of its life, the system was far from ships and only peripherally detected by weather stations. For about ten days between 5 and 15 January, observations of the low remained scarce, but infrequent satellite imagery revealed that it slowly completed a cyclonic loop nearing the Solomon Islands before curving back toward the southwest while remaining weak. The system was named Ada on 15 January. The extremely compact cyclone, with a gale radius of just 55 km, intensified into a Category 3 severe tropicalcyclone on 17 January. At 14: 00 UTC on 16 January, it passed over an automated weather station on Marion Reef, about 480 km east of Bowen.
The site recorded sustained winds of up to 93 kmh. With the first direct confirmation of the storm’s growing strength, the BoM issued its initial public cyclone warning at 19:00 UTC. At 18: 30 UTC, Ada’s eye crossed the coast at Shute Harbour. As a result of its small size, Ada made little inland progress before stalling northwest of Mackay and dissipating on 19 January. It has been described as a defining event in the history of the WhITSunday Islands, and was the most damaging storm in the mainland town of Proserpine’s history at the time. The biggest resort, located on Daydream Island, was obliterated, with similar destruction seen on South Molle, Hayman, and Long islands; since most boats docked on these islands were destroyed. The floodwaters washed out roads and left some locations isolated for days. Offshore, seven people were missing and presumed dead after their fishing trawler encountered the cyclone. Ada reached tropical cyclones on the modern-day Australian cyclone scale the next day, while centered near 19°00′S 153°18′E 19.0°S 153. 3°E＿ -19. 0; 153 3.0; 3. Ada’s peak intensity was 10-minute sustained winds with average bar pressures of 150 km/h. It was an exceptionally large storm, compared to the 150-km radius of gale-force winds.