Raquel impacts Solomon Islands as earliest tropical cyclone off Australia's north-east

Raquel impacts Solomon Islands as earliest tropical cyclone off Australia's north-east

Tropical Cyclone "Raquel" formed north of Solomon Islands, South Pacific Ocean around 18:00 UTC on June 30, 2015 (04:00 AST on July 1), as first July tropical cyclone ever recorded off Australia's north-east. Raquel is already bringing heavy rain to northernmost parts of the Solomon Islands.

Raquel's center is forecast to make landfall along the northwest coast of Santa Isabela Island, Solomon Islands on July 2 (July 3 local time) and change direction several times impacting the country until at least July 4.

NASA/JAXA's GPM Core Observatory is already measuring significant amount of rain north of Solomon Islands.

24-hour rainfall accumulation as observed by 03:00 UTC on July 1, 2015.. Image credit: Google Earth, NASA/JAXA GPM.

At 06:00 UTC on July 1, 2015, Tropical Cyclone "Raquel" had maximum sustained winds of 75 km/h (46.6 mph) with wind gusts to 100 km/h (62.1 mph). The system was located about 360 km (223 miles) NNW of Honiara, north of the Solomon Islands. Central pressure at the time was 997 hPa. (BOM)

The cyclone is moving WSW at about 15 km/h (9.3 mph) and is expected to gradually intensify over the next 24 hours as it approaches the Solomon Islands.

The system is expected to turn toward Queensland, Australia but will remain very far offshore and does not pose a threat to the Queensland coast.

Tropical Cyclone "Raquel" forecast track by BOM on July 1, 2015.

This is certaily a unique scenario, Jess Carey, a spokesman from the BOM's Queensland office, said. "Since we've been tracking cyclones with satellite-based technology, we haven't seen one in July." 

The official cyclone season runs from November 1 - April 30, so any cyclone after May or before October is considered unusual.

Australia has only had one other officially declared July cyclone, which formed off Western Australia in 1996. (ABC)

JTWC expects Raquel to reach maximum sustained winds of 111 km/h (69 mph) by 18:00 UTC on July 2, 2015.

Tropical Cyclone "Raquel" forecast track by JTWC on July 1, 2015.

Tropical Cyclone "Raquel" on July 1, 2015. Image credit: NASA Terra/MODIS.

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Raquel" on July 1, 2015. Image credit: NASA Terra/MODIS.

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