December 24, 2011, 11:06 AM EST
by Phoebe Sedgman
(Updates bureau’s forecast in fourth paragraph.)
Dec. 24 (Bloomberg) — Gale-force winds and heavy rains are expected to hit Australia’s Northern Territory as a tropical low develops into a cyclone, 37 years after its capital Darwin was destroyed by a storm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The low pressure system is expected to develop into a cyclone by early tomorrow, the bureau said on its website today. a cyclone warning is in place for coastal areas from Cape Fourcroy to Milingimbi, including the Tiwi Islands, Cape Don and Croker Island, it said.
On Christmas Eve in 1974, Darwin was devastated by Cyclone Tracy, which killed 71 people and left thousands homeless. The Northern Territory, home to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, accounts for about 17 percent of Australia’s land mass and about 1.6 percent of the nation’s population. Darwin Port Corp., which ships livestock and bulk exports, said Dec. 22 it had invoked the first stage of its cyclone management plan.
The weather system is expected to develop into a category-1 cyclone by early tomorrow and may strengthen into a category-2 storm by 1 a.m. local time on Dec. 26, the bureau said. Gales with gusts of up to 110 kilometers (68 miles) an hour are expected to develop between Cape Fourcroy, on Bathurst Island, and Milingimbi, about 400 kilometers east of Darwin.
Australia’s northern region has a 60 percent chance of having more than the long-term average of two or three cyclones during the 2011-2012 season, the weather bureau said Oct. 17. Australia’s cyclone season runs from Nov. 1 to April 30, according to the bureau.
a cyclone’s severity ranges from category 1, the weakest, to category 5, the strongest.
–Editors: Suresh Seshadri, Anand Krishnamoorthy.
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