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WEATHER UPDATE: Cyclone watch declared for NT coast


METEOROLOGIST, SARAH FITTON: Hello from the Bureau with a severe weather update for the tropics.

Over the past 24 hours we've seen an increase in thunderstorm activity in the monsoon trough and the development of a low to the north of the Tiwi Islands.

Conditions are favourable for the low to intensify and a cyclone watch has been declared for coastal locations between Daly River Mouth and Maningrida, and this includes Darwin and the Tiwi Islands.

The low should move to the southeast and pass close to the Tiwi Islands and Cobourg Peninsula later tonight, then move into the Van Diemen Gulf, offshore from Darwin, on Friday.

Winds and rainfall will increase along the northern Top End coast tomorrow and the low may intensify into a category 1 cyclone by Friday evening. If it does form it will be the first cyclone for the Northern Territory for this season and will be called Marcus.

Darwin residents are in for a wet and windy Friday night before the system starts to move away to the southwest on Saturday.

By Sunday it should be tracking west, very close to the northern Kimberley coast, which makes it a tricky one to forecast. If the system lies over water it should continue to strengthen, if it lies over land then it will lack the favourable conditions. Either way, heavy rainfall and gusty winds are likely over coastal parts.

By Monday the system should have moved off the west Kimberley Coast, and if it hasn't already reached cyclone intensity by then, it's highly likely to strengthen over warm open waters.

We're also expecting the monsoon to bring an increase in rainfall and storms over the Queensland northern tropics from Saturday into next week, so renewed river rises are possible here for already saturated catchments. There's a lot of uncertainty at this stage, but rainfall totals shouldn’t be anywhere near as high as what we saw earlier this month.

With all this activity in the tropics, it's important to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings on our website or the BOM Weather app. You can follow updates directly from our meteorologists on Twitter, and please follow all advice from emergency services.