‘Watching like a hawk’: Cyclone likely to form in Coral Sea
THE Bureau of Meteorology is keeping an eye on a potential tropical low that could develop into a cyclone off the Far North coast.
It comes as the Bureau's Cairns radar undergoes maintenance including upgrades to its back-up power.
The system is expected to develop into a low over the weekend, with meteorologists giving it a likely, or above 50 per cent chance, of developing into a cyclone some time next week.
The Bureau's Coral Sea cyclone outlook shows there's a moderate - 20 to 50% chance - of a cyclone developiong as early as Sunday.
Bureau forecaster Rosa Hoff said the low was expected to form in an embedded monsoon trough, which would give it favourable conditions to develop into a cyclone.
"At this stage, there's quite a few different scenarios which could happen- we don't have a clear path yet as to what direction it might travel in, or what day it's most likely to form," she said.
"We'll be watching the region like a hawk, and as soon as we gain some certainty, we'll update our forecast."
Ms Hoff said the monsoon trough was currently driving heavy rainfall conditions for the Far North coast, which would increase further if the system developed into a cyclone.
A flood watch is in place for the North Tropical Coast between Mission Beach and Rollingstone.
Ms Hoff said due to the high level of rain in the area, any further rainfall caused by the low would cause catchment levels to rise quickly.
The Bureau is also monitoring a second low in the Indian Ocean northwest of Western Australia.
The first low to form into a cyclone in Australian waters will be named Marian, while the second would get Niran.
Cairns is expected to receive showers on the weekend, with up to 20mm on Saturday and 50mm on Sunday.
These falls are forecast to increase over the week, with the highest totals of up to 60mm expected on Wednesday
The Cairns weather radar is currently undergoing routine maintenance including improving to its backup power system.
A Bureau spokeswoman said the radar had been in its current site since the 1970s, following criticism of a blind-spot popping up on the radar that misses weather activity over the Gordonvale area.
"Selecting a site for a radar that provides the best possible coverage for an area involves balancing a number of factors including site access, current and future lines of sight, obstructions, access to power and data communications, land ownership, and other local concerns," she said.
"For example, in Cairns, the radar is well-suited for detecting tropical cyclones over the Coral Sea as they approach the Cairns coastal area.
"Weather radars work by sending out short pulses that are reflected back to the radar by precipitation and other particles. In some areas, like Cairns, mountains can have an impact on coverage.
"Where this is a known issue, the Bureau highlights this in our maps of radar coverage and provides information about limitations on our website."
Originally published as 'Watching like a hawk': Cyclone likely to form in Coral Sea