Forecasters monitoring northern Australia for potential tropical development next week

Forecasters monitoring northern Australia for potential tropical development next weekWhile there are no immediate tropical threats in the wake of Esther, AccuWeather meteorologists say the waters near northern Australia may be ripe for tropical development during the middle and latter part of next week.The next tropical cyclone that forms within the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's area of responsibility will be given the name Gretel."A tropical low pressure area is forecast to develop in a zone stretching roughly from the Top End of Australia to the Cape York Peninsula later this weekend or early next week," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Houk said. "There will be a higher chance of development or strengthening as it moves eastward, most likely across the Gulf of Carpentaria, Tuesday and Wednesday."This zone of unsettled weather will be in an area of warm water and light winds in the atmosphere, factors which are conducive for tropical development. "Although the timing of the development, track and strength of the potential tropical cyclone still has a lot of question marks at this juncture, the takeaway at this point is that there will be the risk for rounds of showers and thunderstorms from all the tropical moisture," Houk said. "That can lead to a flooding and aggravation of any ongoing river flooding from the Top End through the Cape York Peninsula."The path of the brewing cyclone is not expected to mirror Esther's track. After making landfall as a Category 1 tropical cyclone on the Australian intensity scale on Feb. 24, Esther moved westward across northern Australia before meandering southeastward across the country as a tropical rainstorm.Esther's moisture hit Melbourne around the middle of this week, over a week after the cyclone moved inland near the border between Queensland and Northern Territory. Melbourne Airport received over 55 mm (2.17 inches) of rainfall, which is the most rainfall in March since 1929 and above the monthly average of 50.1 mm (1.97 inches), according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation."Assuming this next tropical concern crosses the Cape York Peninsula, it would then move into the Coral Sea off the northeastern coast of Australia and potentially curve southward along and near the coast," Houk said.Such a path would heighten the risk of flooding in communities such as Cairns, Townsville and Mackay later next week.There is the potential for rainfall totals in excess of 152 mm (6 inches) and approaching 305 mm (12 inches) across the Cape York Peninsula and into coastal areas of northeastern Queensland."Interaction with land should help keep the system from becoming a strong tropical cyclone, meaning at this point, the risk of any widespread destructive winds, would remain low," Houk said.AccuWeather will continue to provide updates on this latest tropical threat as well as any additional areas of concern that arise in the coming weeks.The Australia cyclone season officially runs from November to April.Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.