New tropical threat to renew flood risk in Western Australia this week

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 09, 2018, 11:47:30 AM EST

A new tropical cyclone may brew and renew the risk for flooding across northern Western Australia this week.

An increase in thunderstorm activity over the Timor Sea gave rise to a tropical low over the weekend.

"The low could strengthen into a tropical cyclone later in the week as it tracks near or just off the Kimberley and Pilbara coasts," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

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Rain, wind and seas would increase around the cyclone as it strengthens. However, development can be delayed or even hindered if the low remains too close to land.

The name Joyce would be given to the storm upon reaching tropical cyclone status.

Regardless of development, the tropical low is expected to return downpours to northern Western Australia.

"There is a very good chance for heavy rain and flooding across the Kimberley coast, including Broome, through Friday," Nicholls said.

"The risk for heavy rain and flooding can reach the Pilbara region by Thursday night," Nicholls said.

If the cyclone gains enough strength, damaging winds and coastal flooding can also accompany it onshore.

Western Australia weather center
AccuWeather tropical cyclone center
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Nicholls is especially concerned for flooding given that the ground was left oversaturated by Tropical Cyclone Hilda in the final days of 2017.

Broome was inundated with 105.4 mm (4.15 inches) of rain to close out 2017 with 89.8 mm (3.54 inches) falling in just 24 hours.

“Cygnet Bay, located northeast of Broome, reported an incredible 429 mm (16.89 inches) of rain in 48 hours,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Douty said.

Residents living in flood-prone areas are being put on alert as the impending heavy rain threat may cause low-lying and poor drainage areas to quickly become inundated with flood waters. Creeks and smaller rivers may overflow their banks.

"Any flooding would make transportation to the coast for shipping problematic with washed-out roads and/or rails," Nicholls said. Seas may also become dangerous for operators of small craft and swimmers.

All interests across northern Western Australia should continue to check back with AccuWeather as more details unfold on this emerging threat in the coming days.

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