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Tropical Cyclone threat looms for WA coast

Ben Domensino, Tuesday January 9, 2018 - 10:26 AEDT

Australia could see its third tropical cyclone of the season form near the Kimberley coast this week.

A low pressure system sitting over land in far northern WA is expected to move off the Kimberley coast later on Tuesday.

As the system moves offshore, it will feed off warm waters in the region and should intensify into a tropical cyclone during Wednesday or Thursday.

Lows that stay too close to the coast can be hindered from intensifying due to wind friction from the land. This system will need to move far enough offshore to overcome this friction, and reach deep enough water, if it is to become a cyclone.

Forecast models indicate that the low will have enough space to gain strength during the next two to three days and should become a tropical cyclone during Wednesday or Thursday. There is a good chance that it could reach category three, severe tropical cyclone intensity later in the week.

Category three tropical cyclones are capable of producing very destructive wind gusts above 165km/h, along with heavy rain and a storm surge.

Once this system reaches cyclone strength it will be named Tropical Cyclone Joyce, becoming the third cyclone so far this season to form in Australian waters.

Joyce will follow Cyclone Irving, which formed and dissipated over the ocean north of Western Australia earlier this month, and Cyclone Hilda, which made landfall on the west Kimberley coast in late December.

A cyclone watch was in place on Tuesday morning for coastal areas between Kuri Bay and Wallal Downs, where gales may develop from Wednesday afternoon and evening.

There are early indications that another tropical cyclone may develop over the Indian Ocean to the south of Indonesia later this week or early next week. At this stage, the system is not likely to pose a direct threat to the Australian mainland should it eventuate.

The latest cyclone advisories are available at:

- Weatherzone

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