Weekly Tropical Climate Note

Tropical cyclones in Australian region

Tropical cyclone Ferdinand and ex-tropical cyclone Esther developed in the Australian region in recent days. Esther formed in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria and made landfall as a category 1 system near the Northern Territory–Queensland border yesterday (Monday 24 February). This system is expected to track westwards across the central Northern Territory (NT) and northern Western Australia (WA) as a tropical low, potentially re-developing to tropical cyclone intensity later this week, if it moves over waters off the coast of WA. As it tracks over land, ex-TC Esther is likely to generate significant rainfall totals and potentially localised flooding.

Severe tropical cyclone Ferdinand reached tropical cyclone status on the 24th and is predicted to remain over open waters off the WA coast throughout its lifetime, and not directly affect any land masses. Ferdinand has reached its forecast peak intensity of category 3, with sustained winds near its centre estimated to be in excess of 120 km/h. Ferdinand is predicted to weaken later this week and dissipate over the Indian Ocean.

The latest tropical cyclone advice for Australia is available at the Bureau's Current Tropical Cyclones page

Active monsoon across northern Australia

A well-defined monsoon trough has developed across northern Australia in recent days. Both tropical cyclones Esther and Ferdinand developed along this trough. Monsoonal conditions, including widespread heavy rainfall, is expected near, and to the north, of the monsoon trough for much of the coming week. The highest rainfall totals are likely to occur in the vicinity of ex-TC Esther, extending from the southern Gulf of Carpentaria coast, westwards across the northern half of the NT and into the Kimberley District of WA. As ex-TC Esther moves over land across northern Australia, the monsoonal conditions, and therefore the region of heaviest rainfall, will track westwards with it.

When ex-TC Esther reaches the WA coast, monsoon break conditions will return to the NT and Queensland, with below-average rainfall and above-average daytime temperatures expected to prevail.

Madden–Julian Oscillation becomes weak

A pulse of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) has weakened and is currently indiscernible. Both of the tropical lows currently affecting northern Australia developed in the absence of an active MJO pulse. While the presence of an active MJO pulse is typically associated with an enhanced likelihood of tropical cyclone formation, it is not a necessary component.

Most models predict the MJO will remain weak for at least the coming seven days. In this scenario, local weather conditions are likely to be the dominant influence for rainfall and temperature patterns across northern Australia.

Read more about the Madden–Julian Oscillation

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