Residents of two states are battening down the hatches as a slow-moving tropical low threatens to develop into Cyclone Esther in the Gulf of Carpentaria near the Northern Territory-Queensland border.
The tropical low in the Gulf’s centre is predicted to strengthen to category 1 system on Sunday afternoon, the Bureau of Meteorology says.
Forecasters tracking the system expect Esther to build into a category 2 system before crossing the coastline on the NT side of the border around midday on Monday.
The region could receive up to 200mm of rain on Sunday, increasing to up to 250mm as the system reaches land on Monday, meteorologist Shane Kennedy said.
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“It will weaken after crossing the coast, but we are expecting significant rainfall,” Mr Kennedy said.
Severe Weather Update: tropical low in the #GulfofCarpentaria. Video current at 2.30pm ACST 21 February 2020.
— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) February 21, 2020
Flood warnings are current for Gulf of Carpentaria catchments with more than 400mm of rain to fall within 48 hours.
Abnormally high tides are expected to swamp the coast with large waves causing minor flooding.
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Sustained winds of 100km/h are expected, with damaging gusts of up to 155km/h.
Monsoon trough over the #GulfofCarpentaria with the potential for a Tropical Cyclone to develop late Saturday or Sunday. Showers and storms over much of #QLD next few days, heavy falls possible over the southern interior. Latest at https://t.co/AyLEXW01c9 pic.twitter.com/SJFVkjxPl8
— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) February 20, 2020
The slow-moving system is expected to weaken as it moves toward the central Northern Territory before possibly affecting Western Australia later in the week.
Forecasters say the system could strengthen after passing over Western Australia and the cyclone reform in the southern Indian Ocean and possibly make a second landfall on the Pilbara coast later in the week.