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Tropical Cyclone brewing off Queensland coast

Rob Sharpe, Tuesday January 28, 2014 - 10:39 EDT

A tropical cyclone is likely to develop in the Coral Sea this week before moving onto the Queensland coast.

Conditions are ripe for tropical cyclone development in the Coral Sea at the moment as a tropical low is quickly deepening over very warm waters south of the Solomon Islands.

Queenslanders need to be aware that this system is now likely to develop into a cyclone and cross the coast, probably on Thursday or Friday.

At this stage, models are indicating the target area for the cyclone and its severe impacts would be between about Cooktown and Bowen. Residents in these areas advised to revise their tropical cyclone survival plan and kit and to keep a close eye or ear on weather updates during the next 24 to 48 hours.

There is considerable uncertainty when forecasting tropical cyclones and so it is possible that other areas could also be affected. The hardest hit areas should see gale force winds, a large swell and widespread rainfall totals of 200-400mm over two or three days.

Tides could play a large role in the impact of this system as the coastline from Cooktown to Bowen will be experiencing king tides on Thursday and Friday mornings. King tides are the highest astronomical tides of the year and if it coincides with the arrival of the cyclone, it could lead to very dangerous coastal inundation.

Many residents will immediately be wondering how this system compares to Tropical Cyclone Yasi that struck the coast in 2011. Thankfully this system is unlikely to be nearly as large. Yasi spent a whole week in the Coral Sea, gaining strength to become a category 5 and the biggest system to hit the Queensland Coast.

This system will only spend a couple of days in the Coral Sea as a tropical cyclone and therefore cannot reach the broad scale of Yasi. However the system still has the potential to pack a punch as a more compact system with very high wind speeds. The most famous compact cyclone was Cyclone Tracy which devastated Darwin in 1974.

If this tropical low develops into a cyclone it will be named Tropical Cyclone Dylan and will be the first in the Coral Sea this wet season. The Coral Sea typically has five cyclones each year, however only one or two of them make landfall.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2014

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