Australia could be about to experience its first cyclone of 2021 as a tropical low over the western Gulf of Carpentaria is expected to intensify through the week.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned the conditions are favourable to allow the system to intensify into a tropical cyclone and is expected to reach category one cyclone late Sunday.
If the cyclone does form, it will be the first to hit Australia for the cyclone season and will be named ‘Cyclone Imogen’.
BoM Meteorologist Jenny Sturrok said there is a level of uncertainty with forecasts and systems that develop over the Gulf of Carpentaria with many elements influencing the outcome.
“It’s notorious for them to be erratic in their development and movement. The amount of time the low spends over the water and how it interacts with the coast are just some of the factors that influence its rate of intensification,” she said in a Queensland BoM broadcast posted online.
Regardless of a Cyclone Imogen forming or not, BoM cautions severe thunderstorms with heavy rainfall and damaging winds are likely in areas of Northern Queensland.
The developing Tropical Low in the Gulf of Carpentaria is expected to reach category 1 cyclone intensity later today, making landfall tonight. After landfall the winds will weaken, but heavy rain will continue as the system moves over #FNQ. Warnings: https://t.co/85sUctvnDM pic.twitter.com/aLsjKknaX8
— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) January 3, 2021
The system is forecast to move towards the east-southeast, stalling over the Cape York Peninsula before moving towards the north tropical coast.
"The system's going to move over to land and it's going to weaken as it does so, but it's going to hang around and bring some significantly heavy rainfall to the north tropical coast," Meteorologist Matt Marshall told AAP.
A severe weather warning has been issued for heavy rainfall leading to flash flooding over the next few days from Cooktown to Ingham as well as inland parts of the Cape York Peninsula.
The heavy rain is expected to continue on Monday and into Tuesday.
"Isolated falls of a few hundred millimetres are possible on each day in coastal areas," Mr Marshall said.
Severe thunderstorms are also expected across northern Queensland and the south-eastern interior on Sunday.
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