The Cook Islands Meteorological Service is monitoring the disturbance, identified as “TD 11F.”
Met Service director Arona Ngari said the disturbance was moving south southeast at 10 knots and the chance of it forming into a tropical cyclone over the next 24 hours were “pretty good.”
TD11F was located near 17.2S 156.3W or about 410km east-northeast of Aitutaki or about 580km northeast of Rarotonga and was moving south southeast at 10 knots, bringing associated rain and winds.
“We are just keeping an eye on this tropical disturbance and will keep the public updated as we continue to monitor it.”
Ngari said a strong wind warning was in force for Northern Cook Islands waters and a strong wind warning was also in force for all water and land areas of the Southern Cooks.
Forecasts for the Cook Islands include strong northwest to southeast winds of 20 to 30 knots, with gusts up to 40 knots. Seas will be rough to very rough and there will be moderate to heavy swells and occasional rain, heavy at times. The Southern Cooks could also experience a few thunderstorms.
Northwest to southeast winds 20 to 30 knots, with gusts up to 40 knots and rough to very rough seas with moderate to heavy southeast swells are forecast for Rarotonga.
Weather predictions for the Northern Cooks include strong west to northwest winds ranging from 20 to 25 knots, rough seas and moderate northerly swells over the sea.
Over the land the outlook is for moderate to fresh northwest winds, gusty at times and occasional rain, heavy at times as well as a few thunderstorms.
Meanwhile, Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) director Charles Carlson is calling on Cook Islanders not to be complacent and to learn from what has happened in neighbouring island states recently.
Carlson said EMCI was working closely with the Met Service to monitor the tropical depression.
Referring to Cyclone Winston, which devastated parts of Fiji at the weekend and caused numerous deaths, Carlson said no country could withstand a category five cyclone.
The damage suffered by Fiji was a warning that the Cook Islands should be well prepared for the worst, in an effort to mitigate damage and the possible loss of lives.
With the end of the cyclone season still some time away, the possibility of more storms hitting this country remained high.
He said one of the worst years for cyclones in this country had been 2005, when five in succession struck the islands.
“But we were very fortunate that the only direct hit was Cyclone Percy, which struck Pukapuka.”