BOM says tropical low likely to develop into cyclone that could cross east coast

bom says tropical low likely to develop into cyclone that could cross east coast

The 12-hourly track forecast shows the tropical low, referred to as 02U, over the Coral Sea (Supplied: BOM)

The Bureau of Meteorology says there is a high chance a severe tropical cyclone will form on Tuesday, but it is too early to tell if it will cross Australia’s east coast.

The tropical low is over the Solomon Islands in the north-eastern Coral Sea, about 1,000 nautical miles north-west of Cairns.

BOM senior forecaster Felim Hanniffy said the low-pressure system could develop into a tropical cyclone by tomorrow and intensify to a category 3 later this week.

“That system is continuing to slowly consolidate and is expected to drift a little bit westward today,” he said.

Mr Hannify said the system was expected to drift slowly south and possibly intensify.

Will it or won’t it?

BOM modelling indicates the possibility of the tropical low heading towards the Whitsunday Islands by December 11.

But Mr Hanniffy said it was too early to determine and that nine different tracking models showed different possible courses the system could take.

“A majority of ensembles keep it well east and well off the Queensland coast, though there are a couple of members that push it westwards towards parts of the Queensland coast,” he said.

“Some of them push it anywhere from Sydney anywhere up to Cairns.

“That really conveys the high uncertainty with this system as we go to the weekend and into the following week.”

The BOM’s severe weather outlook forecast fewer tropical cyclones between October and April than average.

It would be rare for a tropical cyclone to form in the Coral Sea during El Niño, particularly so early in the season.

If the system develops it will be the first of the 2023-24 season and will be named Jasper if it forms in the Australian region.

The Fijian Meteorological Service will name it if it develops in Fiji’s region.

BOM meteorologist Livio Regano says a cyclone is likely to form because the low is on the monsoon trough above a warm ocean and the Madden-Julien oscillation is coming into alignment.

Additionally, the the upper atmospheric winds are vertically stacked and not too strong.

Mr Regano said despite the differences between forecast models, only a minority showed the system crossing the Queensland coast.

“The big wildcard for seven days onward is depending on what the wave structure looks like in the upper atmosphere — it might start getting down toward Queensland, or it might push away from it and it’s just too far to tell,” he said.

“At the moment it’s an extremely chaotic atmosphere and trying to pin down a position of a cyclone in seven days’ time is impossible.”

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