The Bureau of Meteorology is observing a potential tropical low that could develop into a cyclone off the high north coast.
The system is expected to hit a low over the weekend, with meteorologists giving it a greater than 50 percent chance of turning into a cyclone next week.
The Bureau’s outlook for the Coral Sea cyclone shows that there is a moderate 20 to 50% probability of a cyclone developing on Sunday.
The office’s forecaster Rosa Hoff said the low should form in an embedded monsoon trough, which would provide favorable conditions for it to develop into a cyclone.
« At this point in time, there are a few different scenarios that could happen. We don’t have a clear path yet as to which direction it could go or what day it is most likely to form, » she said.
« We will be watching the region like a hawk and as soon as we are sure we will update our forecast. »
Ms. Hoff said the monsoon trough is currently causing heavy rains on the north coast that would continue to increase if the system turned 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 additional rainfall caused by the low level would cause the catchment area to rise rapidly.
The office also monitors a second deep in the Indian Ocean northwest of Western Australia.
The first low to form a cyclone in Australian waters will be called Marian, while the second would be called Niran.
Cairns is expected to receive showers on weekends, with up to 20mm on Saturday and 50mm on Sunday.
These falls are expected to increase as the week progresses, with the highest totals expected up to 60mm on Wednesday
The Cairns weather radar is currently under routine maintenance, including upgrading its backup power system.
A bureau spokeswoman said the radar has been in its current location since the 1970s following criticism of a blind spot on the radar missing weather activity over the Gordonvale area.
« Choosing a location for a radar that offers the best possible coverage for an area involves weighing a number of factors including location access, current and future lines of sight, obstacles, access to power and data communications, land ownership, and other local issues. » She said.
« In Cairns, for example, the radar is well suited to detecting tropical cyclones over the Coral Sea as they approach the Cairns coastal area.
« Weather radars send out short pulses that are reflected back to the radar by precipitation and other particles. In some areas, such as Cairns, mountains can have an impact on coverage.
« If this is a known problem, the Bureau will highlight this on our radar coverage maps and inform about restrictions on our website. »
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