A low-pressure system off Cairns is likely to form into a cyclone, forecasters say, and it might cross the Queensland coast.
A tropical low off Papua New Guinea is highly likely to develop into a cyclone on Friday as it tracks towards the Queensland coast, forecasters say.
The Bureau of Meteorology says the low-pressure system was between PNG and the Solomon Islands, about 1000 kilometres northeast of Cairns, on Wednesday.
Forecaster David Grant says there is a high chance it will develop into a tropical cyclone in the Coral Sea as early as Friday.
However, he says it’s difficult to predict whether the storm will cross the Queensland coast because it is developing so slowly.
“At the moment, there is a fair bit of uncertainty on the movement and development over the next few days,” Mr Grant told AAP.
“We can’t rule out the possibility of the system approaching or even crossing the Queensland coast anywhere north of Hamilton Island (off Airlie Beach).”
If it forms into a cyclone, it will be called either Gillian or Hibu, depending on whether it intensifies in Australian or PNG waters.
Mr Grant says residents along the Queensland coast north of Airlie Beach should prepare for heavy rain and high winds at the weekend.
“It won’t necessarily impact the whole coast, but it’s just that area I’d like to highlight,” he said.
If the system does develop into a cyclone, it would be the state’s fourth cyclone this wet season.
Cyclone Dylan made landfall between Airlie Beach and Bowen on January 31 as a category two cyclone, causing flooding and minor damage along the north and central Queensland coast.
The following day, Cyclone Edna formed but petered out in the Coral Sea.
Cyclone Fletcher made landfall as a category one storm between Karumba and the Gilbert River mouth in the Gulf of Carpentaria on February 3, but it was soon downgraded.