Tropical Cyclone Gillian hit Australia's Christmas Island last night with winds between 45 and 50 MPH, which would make it the equivalent of a tropical storm if it were in the Atlantic Ocean.
Microwave imagery (seen below) shows that Christmas Island took the brunt of Gillian's developing eyewall, subjecting the island of 2,000 residents to the storm's strongest wind and rain. The microwave imagery is read much in the same way one reads Doppler radar — warmer colors indicate deeper convection (storm activity).
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that officials on the island believe everyone is safe. The article further states that vegetation on the island sustained damage as did "one of the island's most significant and historic buildings," the Rumah Tinggi Bar and Restaurant.
The Australian tropical cyclone season stretches from the beginning of November through the end of April, during which time they typically see 15-25 tropical lows — equivalent to a tropical depression — and 6-12 tropical cyclones, which are equivalent to a tropical storm or hurricane in the Atlantic depending on the wind speed.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean doesn't begin until June 1.
[Images via CIMSS]