Meteorologists cannot currently predict the monster storms that occasionally strike Australia, but decades of newspaper accounts suggest there may be a pattern

“It was blowing a perfect hurricane, the squalls coming down in regular gusts… the sea at this time running mountains high, and very broken.”

That was one of the last things written in the logbook of a ship called the Catherine Hill, before a giant storm drove it aground north of Sydney, Australia, on 21 June 1867. That storm and others like it are now being studied to help weather forecasters predict future recurrences.

Australia’s eastern seaboard is lashed by monster storms called “extreme east coast lows” about once …

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