CYCLONE watch has been issued for Darwin, with expectations it may be increased to a warning on Tuesday.
A tropical low, which was 240km north northeast of Darwin at 3.30am this morning, is expected to form into a Category One cyclone by about 10am today, north of Milikapiti on the Tiwi Islands. If it forms, it will be called Cyclone Frances.
It is then expected to move in a south westerly direction over the next two days, likely becoming a Category Two north of Kalumburu in WA on Thursday.
"We'll probably see a Category One cyclone by the time we get to midday Tuesday, around the Tiwi Islands," Bureau of Meteorology weather services manager Ben Suter said.
"The centre of the system is likely to cross the western Tiwi Islands sometime later on Tuesday afternoon, but we do expect the system's centre to remain to the west, offshore, of Darwin.
"It is possible. from early Tuesday morning, if the gales look likely for Darwin, the Watch is for 24-48 hours but if we expect gales to affect Darwin within 24 hours then we will go to Warning."
NT Emergency Services regional manager Mark Cunnington said it was not the time for residents to be complacent.
"The message from the Emergency Services is to remain alert, not alarmed," he said.
"Understanding that the probable effect over the Tiwis and into Darwin is likely only to be Category One, a cyclone is a cyclone and they can still surprise us from time to time with their development."
"We're recommending that people have their cyclone kits ready, their yards cleared of any debris that may be picked up in wind situations and be ready to shelter when the weather starts to deteriorate."
Mr Cunnington reminded city residents that winds could easily move outdoor furniture.
"Particularly if you're in a high-rise type building, we've seen in the past those settings have been picked up and blown off the buildings, down into trees and even across the wharf ... so we're asking people to consider what might be picked up in high winds ... either secure it or put it away."