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1/02/2008

Flooding fears as monsoon hits Top End hard

AUSTRALIA - Fears of widespread flooding in the Top End have grown following more wild weather Monday. Darwin's Bureau of Meteorology warned of the potential for flooding in the Katherine area as rain continued to bucket down on the region. The developing tropical low pressure system over the eastern Top End had drenched the region, with some areas having falls of 260mm in recent days. The rain is likely to continue until at least the weekend. "The risk has now switched from a cyclone to flooding in places like Katherine, the Roper River and the McArthur River districts. A lot of that area is saturated, so now any rain that falls on top of that is going to be run-off, so there could be significant stream rises and certainly if it hangs around for a couple of days more we could be looking at significant flooding." The low, which was located about 300km east-southeast of Katherine Monday night, was not expected to move into the Gulf of Carpentaria, and in turn, brew into a cyclone, by the weekend. "It's going to remain slow moving over the southern Top End for the next few days." While the chances of a cyclone were slim, they did not rule it out, as this was ONE OF THE MOST "UNUSUAL" WEATHER PATTERNS THEY'VE SEEN. "It has been a QUITE UNUSUAL WEATHER PATTERN. It's been a difficult one to forecast. There have been periods where it has shown that it was going to move into the Gulf of Carpentaria, and there is still that risk, but then it started to move slowly towards Katherine. We expect it to stay on this path and produce a h--- of a lot of rain over that area and cause rivers to rise. While we have a deep tropical low system over land there is still a risk of a cyclone.

Bureau Warns of Cyclone and Floods
The Bureau of Meteorology is encouraging Top End residents to keep track of the monsoon trough in the region, as a cyclone is expected to develop later this week on Friday. The trough lies near the base of the top end and has a number of major systems on which it is causing severe weather warnings to be issued. A severe weather warning is in place for parts of the Territory north of Brunette Downs. The warning includes the Darwin-Daly, Roper-McArthur, Arnhem, Victoria River and northern Barkly Districts. Katherine is no longer included in the warning. Damaging and destructive gusts to 120 kilometres per hour are possible throughout most regions with 90 kilometre per hour winds expected on the Arnhem coast. Heavy rain is expected to cause significant stream rises with possible flooding of low lying areas.
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