Coral Sea cyclone potential
A mass of cloud swirling slowly over the northeastern Coral Sea has the potential to become Australia's next tropical cyclone this week.
So what do we know so far?
The Bureau of Meteorology is monitoring a developing low pressure system situated to the south of the Solomon Islands, around 1,400km away from the Queensland coast.
This cluster of storms may develop into a tropical cyclone during the next couple of days and computer models suggest that it could move towards Australia's east coast later in the week.
Both Australia's Bureau of Meteorology and America's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre give this system a moderate chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Wednesday. However, this doesn't guarantee that it's going to happen.
The system is expected to move towards the south today and most computer models predict that it will start tracking towards the southwest from Tuesday.
This path would bring it closer to Australia's east coast during the middle of the week, possibly close enough to be felt in populated areas.
While this sounds dire, there are two things worth pointing out.
Firstly, not all computer models predict that the system will move towards the southwest beyond Tuesday. Because of this uncertainty, it's difficult to predict where it will be located by Wednesday or Thursday.
Secondly, if the system does approach Australia's east coast mid-week, it will be moving into an area where the atmosphere is less supportive of cyclone development due to increased wind shear. Wind shear is an increase in wind speed with height.
So, while a system is in the early stages of forming in the Coral Sea, there is potential for it to become a cyclone and it may move towards Australia, it's not a time to panic.
Stay up to date with developments during the coming days if you live in eastern Queensland or northeast NSW.
The latest information on this system will be available via the Bureau of Meteorology's Tropical Cyclone page, here: http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/
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