An unusually early-season tropical cyclone developed late Friday, local time, and will impact northern Australia this weekend.
Tropical Cyclone 02S (Alessia) spinning in the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and Western Australia will continue its slow journey eastward this weekend, reaching the northwestern part of the Australia Sunday.
While the cyclone is not expected to gain much intensity, it can still spread drenching rain and gusty winds across the region. The storm should have the intensity of a minimal tropical storm in the Atlantic or Pacific basins.
That does not mean the cyclone will not pose hazards. Places along its path could still be subject to wind gusts of 60 to 80 kph (40 to 50 mph) and rain amounts of 75 to 150 mm (3 to 6 inches).
Sporadic tree damage and power outages, as well as flash flooding incidents, may unfold.
The path of Tropical Cyclone Alessia takes it to the waters of the Timor Sea, then near the far northern tip of Western Australia's Kimberley region Saturday night local time and into the Northern Territory later Sunday.
While weakening would occur as it crosses the Northern Territory, the window for it to strengthen could open again next week if it tracks over the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria. However, it is looking more likely that the storm may turn southward and remain over land, preventing additional strengthening.
"It is very rare to get a November cyclone," stated AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls when discussing tropical development near Australia.
The Australian cyclone season officially starts in November, but tropical activity typically holds off until December.
"The earliest cyclone to impact the northwest coast [of Australia] in a season was on Nov. 19, 1910, when the eye passed over Broome," according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Nicholls reports that the last tropical cyclone to form in the Timor Sea and strike western Australia in November was Quenton from 1983. Quenton formed on Nov. 26, then made landfall along Eighty Mile Beach on Nov. 29.
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