A tropical cyclone has formed in the Coral Sea to the northwest of Australia and has the potential to bring intense rain to New Zealand later this week.

The small system developing to the northwest of Australia's East Coast has formed into a tropical cyclone, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

However, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, which will be responsible for naming it, has yet to officially call it a tropical cyclone.

It said there was a "moderate" chance of that happening today, and if so it would be named Linda.


The system was currently south of the Solomon Islands in the northeastern Coral Sea, and moving south at 20km/h.

The Bureau said it could approach the central or southern Queensland coast tomorrow or Thursday, but was likely to remain offshore.

It was expected to produce large waves and a severe weather warning was in place for dangerous surf in coastal areas from tomorrow morning.

WeatherWatch NZ said unlike the three previous recent cyclone threats to New Zealand, this one was not expected to come to us as a storm.

"The life of this cyclone may only be a day or two as it tracks into unfavourable conditions for cyclone formation.

"However, the localised but intense tropical downpours are expected to drift towards the upper part of the North Island this Friday and perhaps return off and on a bit this weekend and early next week."

Forecasters were also keeping a close eye on a system forming over the Coral Sea, just south of the Solomon Islands.

MetService NZ meteorologist Peter Little this morning said they were keeping a close eye on the system.

"At this stage most models show it tracking towards the Queensland coast, then away to the Tasman Sea, where it weakens before it has any effect on New Zealand's weather.

"It does not look like it will affect New Zealand, but we are keeping a close eye on it."