A weak but strengthening disturbance has been doing a slow loop just south of eastern islands of Indonesia and East Timor. It has dumped epic amounts of rain over the region, causing tremendous flooding. Thirty thousand have been evacuated, and while 97 deaths have been reported as of this morning that number will undoubtedly be higher as several flash floods hit at night. In the words of one official:
“We are using rubber boats to find bodies at sea. In several villages, flash floods hit while people were sleeping,” Thomas Ola Langoday, deputy head of Lembata district government, told Reuters by phone.
Most of this damage happened before the cyclone became organized enough to become a named storm. Now known as Seroja, the cyclone (in the Southern Hemisphere hurricanes are called cyclones) the system is moving away from the islands and headed towards the west coast of Australia, where it may be nearly category 3 (major hurricane) in strength when it makes landfall.