All eyes on Gulf as BOM says ‘decent chance’ of season’s second cyclone

Weather forecasters say there is a “decent chance” of a tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria developing into a tropical cyclone in the middle of this week, the region’s second this summer.

Jan 25, 2021, updated Jan 25, 2021
A forecast map showing the low in the Gulf of Carpentaria. (Photo: ABC)

A forecast map showing the low in the Gulf of Carpentaria. (Photo: ABC)

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Peter Clarson said the low could develop and form into a cyclone offshore within days.

“From midweek we do have a decent chance of seeing the next tropical cyclone form in Australian waters,” he said.

“We do see a strong monsoonal burst hit from the north, essentially winds coming from the Northern Hemisphere which typically help to spin up these tropical systems.

“We have a weak low already in the Gulf at the moment, so there’s a decent chance of that forming into a tropical cyclone from midweek.”

Clarson said the BOM was predicting a 20 to 50 per cent chance the low would form into a named system — the next cyclone will be named Lucas.

Just weeks ago, residents in the Gulf towns of Karumba and Normanton found themselves in the path of Cyclone Imogen, which flooded major roads, caused long power outages and damaged infrastructure.

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Elliott Dunn, the emergency management coordinator for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services in Mount Isa, said while it was too early to be concerned about a cyclone forming, Gulf communities were well prepared.

“This will be [our] second for the season … I think the preparedness is more for people thinking of travelling into the Gulf,” he said.

“We’re not saying don’t [travel], we’re just saying be aware there is a system in the Gulf and we’re not too sure which direction it’s going to take yet.”

Dunn said there were not many issues with tourists during Cyclone Imogen, but police were “kept busy” with people attempting to drive over flooded roads.

“Be patient, the roads do close very quickly … if you do need to travel up in the Gulf, just be aware of the road conditions and be prepared to turn around.

“Just because there’s not a road closed sign, that doesn’t mean the road is not closed — the council just may not have got to it yet.”

Dunn said the local disaster management group had not stood up at this stage.

“It is very, very early for the BOM to be able to give any predictions with any level of confidence,” he said.

“We’ll give it a couple of days until this thing really shows its hand.”

– ABC / Kelly Butterworth

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