Monsoon brings dual cyclone threat

James Nason, 07/02/2017

Parts of northern Australia will receive a soaking during the second half of this week, with potential for two tropical cyclones, according to Weatherzone.

Monsoonal rain and thunderstorms are being amplified in Australia’s tropics this week by the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is an area of enhanced storm activity that moves around the planet near the equator every month or so. When it is in the Australian region, an active MJO can help boost monsoonal rainfall and assist in the development of tropical cyclones.

The effects of an MJO-enhanced monsoon trough have already been felt across northern Australia during the past few days. Darwin collected two thirds of their average February rainfall on the weekend. Further west, minor to moderate flooding is occurring in Western Australia’s Kimberley and Pilbara Districts today.

These already sodden regions are about to receive more soaking rain as two tropical lows develop in the monsoon trough. Both have the potential to become Tropical Cyclones Alfred and Blanche later in the week.

One of these lows is forming over waters to the west of Broome and is expected to move towards the west or southwest in coming days. This is a similar path to the tropical low that inundated this area two weeks ago.

This system will spread heavy rain through the Kimberley and Pilbara districts and generate strong to gale force winds along the coast. The low’s proximity to the coast will likely determine whether or not it becomes a cyclone before making landfall over the Pilbara later on Wednesday. It needs to move far enough away from the coast before landfall if it is to reach cyclone intensity.

Another tropical low is expected to develop over the Gulf of Carpentaria on Wednesday, where favourable conditions may help it to develop into a tropical cyclone later in the week. At this stage, this low has a better chance of developing into a tropical cyclone. Computer models are uncertain about where this system will move towards the end of the week, although the most likely direction will be to the west, taking it over the Northern Territory.

Source: Ben Domensino, Weatherzone. The latest tropical cyclone advisories and track maps are available at:


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