Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

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Tropical low forecast to hit Kimberley coast on weekend


Western Australia could be about to see its fifth tropical cyclone of the season, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting that a tropical low will develop into a cyclone off the northwest Kimberley coast tomorrow.

At 8am AWST the low was approximately 115 km south southwest of Kalumburu and 175 km east of Kuri Bay, moving to the west southwest at around 20 km per hour.

If a cyclone does form it will be called Kelvin.

A tropical cyclone watch is in place from Kuri Bay to Whim Creek, including Broome and Port Hedland. The watch extends inland into the western Kimberley and eastern Pilbara including Marble Bar.

It is expected to intensify further into a category 2 system before taking a southward track on Saturday towards the east Pilbara coast, making landfall possibly as a severe category 3 tropical cyclone during Sunday.

The system is currently moving west southwest across the northwest Kimberley, and current forecasts suggest a Severe Tropical Cyclone impact is possible on Sunday over the east Pilbara coast.

Gales with gusts to 100 kilometres per hour may develop in coastal parts between Kuri Bay and Bidyadanga, including Broome during Friday afternoon.

Gales may extend further southwest to between Wallal Downs and Port Hedland late Friday or early Saturday. If the system tracks further west then gales may extend to Whim Creek on Saturday.

Destructive winds with gusts to 150 kilometres per hour may develop along the coast between Broome and Pardoo Roadhouse during Saturday or early Sunday as the system moves towards the coast.

Very destructive winds with gusts in excess of 165 kilometres per hour may develop from Sunday morning as the system intensifies and approaches the coast.

Heavy rainfall is likely over the northwest Kimberley today, extending to the west Kimberley tomorrow and the east Pilbara on Saturday. A flood watch is current for the East, West and North Kimberley rivers including the Fitzroy River.

Review your emergency kit and discuss your emergency plans with your household and family. Ensure you have medicines, water and non-perishable food if you become isolated.

Prepare your property by moving any loose items indoors or securing them and ensuring your roof is in good condition with gutters clear of leaf litter.

The Bureau’s Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Perth operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with forecasters monitoring the situation and providing the latest information for emergency services, media and the community.

Follow us on Twitter @BOM_WA and remember remains the most up-to-date and comprehensive official source of information.

For further information go to:

Severe Weather Update video transcript:

Hello from the Bureau with an update on a developing tropical low over the Kimberley in Western Australia.

We can now clearly see the circulation in satellite imagery this morning, with the tropical low just moving slowly to the southwest at around 20 km per hour.

Now I'm going to show you some water vapour imagery here, and as the name suggests it looks at water vapour in the middle levels of the atmosphere. But what it does with this colour enhancement is really pick out some of the detail around the thunderstorms and some of the intricacies around with this tropical low. It's pretty impressive, isn't it?

A tropical cyclone watch is in place for communities from Kuri Bay to Whim Creek, extending as far inland through the Pilbara as Marble Bar.

Later on Thursday we expect the low to move off the northwest Kimberley coast over open water, and then reach cyclone intensity during Friday. At that point we'll name it Kelvin, which will be the 5th tropical cyclone in the western region this season.

Gale force winds with gusts to 100 km per hour may develop along the coastal stretch between Kuri Bay and Bidyadanga, including Broome, during Friday afternoon as the developing low or cyclone brushes past to the northwest, before extending further southwest towards Port Hedland late on Friday or early Saturday.

The current forecast takes the cyclone track towards the southwest approximately parallel to the coast before turning towards the south and the east Pilbara coast during Sunday.

Slowing down will give the cyclone more time to develop within favourable conditions in the atmosphere, which means we may see a severe tropical cyclone – so that's at least category three – with very destructive wind gusts of over 165 km per hour possible from Sunday morning as the cyclone approaches the coast.

Before any cyclone develops though, we've got the heavy rain over the Kimberley to contend with. The west Kimberley is already soaking wet, where streams and rivers are still flowing after the rains of recent weeks.

Kununurra has already seen over 100 mm of rain to 9 am this morning, and likely further 24-hour rainfall totals of between 100 and 200 mm as the low crosses the Kimberley, with isolated higher totals in the 300 to 400 mm range, means initial Flood Warnings have been issued for the north and west Kimberley districts, and a Flood Watch is in place for remaining districts in the east Kimberley and extending down into the north Pilbara District catchments, including the Fitzroy river.

So if you're living in north west Western Australia, it's time once again to get your cyclone plan ready. Check back with the Bureau on our website, app and on twitter for the latest updates of cyclone forecasts and warnings and follow all advice from the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Audio News Release:

Senior Forecaster, Brad Santos, from the Bureau's Cyclone Warning Centre provides an update on the tropical low that's currently located off the Kimberley coast.

Audio is available for download.