SYDNEY: A tropical low in the Coral Sea will likely develop into a cyclone and hit Australia’s northeast later this week, the weather bureau said on Tuesday (Jan 23), a month after Tropical Cyclone Jasper caused widespread damage across the region.
The weather system about 800km off the coast of Queensland state could intensify to a category 3 cyclone, two rungs below the most dangerous wind-speed level, bringing heavy rain and life-threatening flash flooding.
“It is intensifying and will likely reach cyclone strength overnight tonight or during Wednesday … a coastal crossing is most likely overnight on Thursday,” Laura Boekel, forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said during a press briefing.
Storm warnings stretched across 900km of Queensland’s northeast coast with intense rainfall and destructive wind gusts of up to 150kmh forecast for some tourist towns along the Great Barrier Reef.
Heavy rain will drench regions that are already wet, significantly raising the risk of flash flooding, Boekel said.
The latest storm warnings come ahead of an extended national holiday weekend and toward the end of the school summer break, when the region would expect a rise in tourist visits. Officials urged tourists to reconsider camping and travelling to remote areas.
The storm would lose its cyclonic strength after making landfall but several inland regions would still pick up heavy rains over the weekend and into next week.
“This could be a very widespread as well as a very long-duration event,” Boekel said.
Cyclone Jasper in December left a trail of destruction in Queensland’s northern regions, forcing some residents to flee their homes and cutting off towns.