Cyclone Claudia strengthens off the coast of northwestern Australia
After former Cyclone Blake brought areas of flash flooding and gusty winds to parts of Western Australia last week, forecasters shifted their focus north to a brewing tropical system.
A tropical low moved over the coast of Northern Territory on Wednesday and Thursday and brought a broad area of heavy rain and thunderstorms to the region.
This low passed just south of Darwin late Friday as rainfall totals climbed across the area.
As of late Friday night, local time, widespread rainfall totals of 100-150 mm (4-6 inches) have been reported. In Darwin, 110 mm (4.33 inches) of rain fell between Thursday and Friday.
Farther east, 225 mm (9 inches) of rain was been reported in Jabiru during this time period.
On Saturday, the low moved out over the Timor Sea into an environment conducive for tropical development.
As the storm moved away from the Northern Territory early in the weekend, the risk for flash flooding gradually eased.
The low strengthened into a Category 1 tropical cyclone on the Australia intensity scale and was given the name Claudia on Saturday. This is equivalent to a tropical storm in the Atlantic Basin.
Claudia has since reached Category 3 tropical cyclone strength on the Australia scale, equivalent to a Category 2 or 3 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin.
Tropical Cyclone Claudia spins over the Timor Sea late Sunday night. (Photo/RAMMB)
Some rounds of tropical downpours and gusty winds can reach the coast of northwestern Australia, but the heaviest rain and strongest wind should remain offshore due to the track of the system.
However, if the storm track shifts farther south, heavier rain and stronger wind gusts can reach the Kimberley coast.
All warning zones for the northwestern coasts have expired with the storm tracking well off the coast.
Regardless of track, rough seas and increased risk for rip currents will extend across the northwestern coasts through early week.
Claudia is forecast to follow a track into the Indian Ocean through at least the middle of the week with little to no impact to land expected. Here the storm may run into an area of high wind shear and rapidly weaken.
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