Northern Queensland is facing a tropical cyclone, weeks after state city Townsville was flooded, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). A deepening band of low pressure, currently named 92P, is whirling in the northern Coral Sea / Solomon Sea ahead of moving south over the coming days. In its latest update at 6.17am GMT (4.17pm ASET), BoM warned: “The low is expected to develop into a tropical cyclone in the next six to 12 hours.” In a warning issued two hours earlier, BoM said: “At 2pm AEST Friday, a developing tropical low was located east of Papua New Guinea.
“This low is expected to develop further and may develop into a tropical cyclone in the Papua New Guinea area of responsibility today or over the weekend.
“This system is expected to drift southwest over the weekend.
The low may enter northern parts of the Eastern Region early next week as a tropical cyclone or developing tropical low.”
Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) are also monitoring the weather system as it tracks through the seas with strong 34 mph winds.
JTWC warned: “The potential for the development of a significant tropical cyclone within the 24 hours remains high.”
Storm tracking models on weatherwatch.co.nz show a chance of the tropical low hitting the eastern coastline, which “could be devastating news for parts of the Great Barrier Reef”.
However, the weather path is not yet certain and 92P could yet move westwards over far northern Queensland over the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Not yet a storm, 92P would be classed as a category 1 tropical cyclone once wind speeds reach sustained wind speeds of 39mph (63km/h).
BoM forecast the tropical depression’s winds to reach 46mph (74.1km/h) at 12pm GMT on Friday.
What about Townsville?
The latest modelling estimates state eastern coastline areas of Queensland could be hit by the cyclone.
Weather watch.co.nz reports areas including Cooktown, Daintree, Port Douglas and Cairns may be at threat although this has not been confirmed.
Townsville sits approximately 270 miles south of Cairns so the threat to the city is not yet known.
However, residents will likely be praying to avoid any stormy weather, wth the region still saturated after intense rainfall in early February.
Forecasters will be keeping a close eye on the weather system’s development over the next few hours.
Another BoM warning will be issued imminently.