QFES

WATCH: Cyclone Owen flooding properties as it crosses Qld

UPDATE 10am: A SEVERE weather warning has been issued for parts of Queensland's north coast as tropical cyclone Owen will move over the northern interior today.

Loading video...

Owen has now crossed the south-eastern Gulf coast and weakened to a category 2 tropical cyclone in the early hours of this morning, but continues to bring severe weather conditions with it.

Six-hour rainfall totals between 100-200mm are possible, particularly with thunderstorms, are forecast, with flash flooding expected.

The small Aboriginal community expected to bear the brunt of the storm, Kowanyama, "dodged a bullet" as the weakening storm swerved south, crossing the Cape York Coast as a Category 3 system in the early hours of the morning.

It went was in lockdown last night amid fears as many as 60 houses could be wiped out when Cyclone Owen hits and unleashes a trail of havoc across the state. Kowanyama Mayor Michael Yam feared as many as 60 houses and a council workshop built in the '80s could be "wiped out" by the cyclonic impact in the tiny Aboriginal community of 1400.

Fearing the worst overnight and not knowing "what we'll wake up to,'' Cr Yam told The Courier-Mail this morning the town had escaped relatively unscathed.

"We were right in the bullseye but then it dipped and went south," Cr Yam said.

Loading video...

"There's no structural damage, a little debris, we're all good and in one piece.

"What I'm really happy about is the preparation. Everyone went into lockdown and took the threat seriously.

"It's back to business as usual."

At 5.45am, the Bureau of Meteorology warned heavy rainfall and damaging winds are developing and people in the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands and parts of the Peninsula, Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders, Hebert and Lower Burdekin areas may be affected.

Owen crossed the southeast Gulf of Carpentaria coast between Kowanyama and Gilbert River Mouth as a low end category 3 system at about 3am and is expected to track east southeast over the northern interior of Queensland today while weakening further.

UPDATE 8am: Cyclone Owen is moving inland across Cape York Peninsula and weakening after making landfall at 3am.

Warning zone: Karumba to Kowanyama and adjacent inland areas, including Kowanyama, Croydon and Georgetown.

Watch zone: None.

Cancelled zones: Coatal areas between Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw, inland areas including Palmerville.

There is still a warning in place for the area from Karumba to Kowanyama and adjacent inland areas, including Kowanyama, Croydon and Georgetown.

The cyclone has reduced in intensity to category 2, sustaining winds near the centre of 95 km/h with wind gusts to 130 km/h.

It is now 145km northeast of Normanton and 95km east southeast of Gilbert River Mouth, moving southeast at 2km/h.

There are destructive winds with gusts to 130km/h occurring close to the centre of the cyclone as it moves inland northeast of Normanton.

Gales with gusts up to 120 kilometres per hour extend about 90 kilometres from the centre of the system.

Tropical cyclone Owen crossed the southeast Gulf of Carpentaria coast between Kowanyama and the Gilbert River Mouth as a low end category 3 system about 3am AEST.

It has since weakened to a category 2 system and is expected to track east southeast over the northern interior of Queensland today while weakening further.

The Bureau of Meteorology warns areas of heavy rainfall, which may lead to flash flooding, are occurring near the cyclone about the southeast Gulf of Carpentaria coast and will extend across 

Cape York Peninsula as the cyclone moves inland during the day.

These areas of heavy rain are forecast to extend to the north tropical coast of Queensland through the weekend.

A Flood Watch is current for numerous catchments across northern and central Queensland and a Severe Weather Warning is also current.

UPDATE 3.45am: Cyclone Owen has made landfall, crossing the southeastern gulf coast of Queensland between Kowanyama and the Gilbert River Mouth.

The Bureau of Meteorology advises it has hit as a category 3 cyclone with winds near the centre reaching 120km/h while wind gusts are hitting 165 km/h. The cyclone is expected to move southeast at a reduced 26 km/h in coming days.

"The forecast path shown above is the bureau's best estimate of the cyclone's future movement and intensity," the latest advice reads.

"There is always some uncertainty associated with tropical cyclone forecasting and the grey zone indicates the range of likely tracks of the cyclone centre.

"Due to the uncertainty in the future movement, the indicated winds will almost certainly extend to regions outside the rings on this map.

"The extent of the warning and watch zones reflects this."

 

The warning zones include coastal and adjacent inland areas between Karumba and Cape Keerweer, including Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Croydon and Palmerville.

Cyclone Owen is expected to track east southeast over the northern interior of Queensland through today while weakening.

BOM predicts the cyclone will weaken to category 2 by 9am and then become a tropical low throughout the next few days. 

Areas of heavy rainfall, which may lead to flash flooding, are expected to develop further about the southeast Gulf of Carpentaria coast and across Cape York Peninsula during the early hours of today as the cyclone crosses.

These areas of heavy rain are forecast to extend to the north tropical coast of Queensland through the weekend.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Kevin Walsh said residents should remain indoors until emergency authorities advised them it was safe to go outside or return home.

"Our priority is to help those who need assistance, and we will be on the ground as soon as it is safe for our crews to venture out," Mr Walsh said. 

"Listen to local radio and watch the BoM website to keep up-to-date with the movement of the cyclone and learn when it's declared safe to go outdoors.

"There is likely to be a number of hazards including fallen trees, power lines, debris and even possible structural damage to infrastructure and it is vital people do not go sightseeing and avoid damaged buildings.

"If you can return home, ensure you use only the recommended routes and under no circumstance should you attempt to cross flooded creeks or causeways.

"If electrical appliances in your home have been wet, do not use them until they're checked for safety."

Mr Walsh said also urged people totake the time to check on friends and family and ensure they were safe.

"If your home or their property has become uninhabitable due to cyclone damage, contact your local council to identify where you can seek further assistance," he said.

"Parents are urged to keep a close eye on children who may be tempted to explore the area and play in floodwaters. In Queensland, young lives have been lost from children playing in and around flood water."

Mr Walsh said State Emergency Service volunteers had been out in force since first light to help the community.

"If your situation is life-threatening, ensure you call Triple Zero (000) immediately," he said.

"Due to the demand on their workload, it could take some time for SES crews to reach you so please remain patient."

The Assistant Commissioner also urged residents in those areas affected by flooding to remember: 'if it's flooded, forget it'.

"As the severe weather passes and people begin to leave their homes, we're asking everyone to pay attention to traffic signs and road closures, so you don't become stranded across a flooded road," he said.

"Driving through floodwaters is extremely dangerous behaviour and not only puts your life at risk, but the lives of rescue personnel as well."

A Flood Watch is current for numerous catchments across northern and central Queensland and a Severe Weather Warning is also current.

A storm tide is occurring between Gilbert River Mouth and Pormpuraaw as the cyclone crosses the coast.

Large waves may produce minor flooding along the foreshore.


Recommended Action:

  • People in the path of the cyclone should stay calm and remain in a secure shelter while the very destructive winds continue.
  • Do not venture outside if you find yourself in the eye of the cyclone - very destructive winds from a different direction could resume at any time.
  • Heed the advice and follow the instructions of police, emergency services personnel and local authorities.
  • For cyclone preparedness and safety advice, visit Queensland's Disaster Management Services website www.disaster.qld.gov.au
  • For emergency assistance, phone the Queensland State Emergency Service on 132 500 (for assistance with storm damage, rising flood water, fallen trees on buildings or roof damage).

EARLIER: A CAPE York town was in lockdown last night amid fears as many as 60 houses could be wiped out when Cyclone Owen hits and unleashes a trail of havoc across the state.

Forecasters believed Cyclone Owen would hit the coast near Kowanyama as a Category 3 system in the early hours of Saturday and downgrade into a tropical low to track as far south as Bundaberg, with damaging 90km/h winds and a torrential deluge of up to 200mm, in coming days.

The cyclone had wind gusts of up to 165kmh as at 10.45pm, when it was sitting about 160km north northwest of Gilbert River Mouth and was moving east at about 31kmh.

Most of the Sunshine State, including the southeast corner, is likely to experience wild weather, with severe thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain from separate systems predicted over the weekend.

Tropical Cyclone Owen was expected to be a category 3 when it hit, not a category 4 as earlier predicted. This forecast tracking map was issued at 10.45pm. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology
Tropical Cyclone Owen was expected to be a category 3 when it hit, not a category 4 as earlier predicted. This forecast tracking map was issued at 10.45pm. Picture: Bureau of Meteorology

Kowanyama, a tiny Aboriginal township of 1400, was last night in the crosshairs of the storm, which was initially expected to bring with it 200km/h winds. It was thought the cyclone would hit as a category 4 but this has since changed.

Mayor Michael Yam feared as many as 60 houses and a council workshop built in the '80s could be "wiped out" by the cyclonic impact.

"We don't know what we'll wake up to,'' Cr Yam said.

"But if we get hit, a lot of those older houses and buildings will get blown away. They'll go for sure.

"We'll all be in lockdown, families are sheltering in new homes, and we're hoping for the best that there are no casualties.''

About 60 police and emergency rescue crews have been deployed to the remote far north indigenous community ahead of the onslaught, while sandbagging began yesterday in Cairns.

Cr Yam said officials would put up a drone in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone to get a true picture of the impact of the "very destructive" ­tempest.

Community Enterprise Queensland's Pormpuraaw store manager Graeme Sutton said residents were feeling comfortable ahead of the impending severe weather event.

"There's no panicking. They've flown out the sick and the old, but everyone else is feeling fine," he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged hundreds of thousands of families on the summer school break to brace for statewide "extreme weather" ahead of the category-four system.

"Time and time again I think nature has thrown its fair share of natural disasters at Queensland,'' the Premier said yesterday.

"But we all work together and we come out of it at the end."

She said with school closing for children across Queensland, many families would be thinking about and embarking on summer holidays.

She urged those families to listen to the authorities, media and radio reports and be aware of the risk of flash flooding on roads and highways. "Please, there is going to be a lot of rain, stay safe,'' she said.

NASA satellite image of Cyclone Owen on Friday.
NASA satellite image of Cyclone Owen on Friday.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Dr Richard Wardle said to expect a significant storm tide, flash flooding in the Gulf, and abnormally high tides on the east coast of Queensland with 4m-high seas.

"There will certainly be a storm surge, but we're lucky with the tides. We're not looking like it will be metres above the astronomic high tide,'' he said.

In central Queensland, there were concerns about possible landslides if heavy rain fell over vast tracts of land denuded by recent bushfires.

In a sign of how widespread the wild weather will be, 29 mayors have been involved in disaster-planning meetings.

PREVIOUS QLD CYCLONES

Cyclone Larry: March 20, 2006; Category 4

Cyclone Larry cross the Queensland coast to the south of Cairns in March 2006, causing more than $500 million worth of damage. The system unleashed hurricane winds peaking at 56 metres a second (110 knots).

Cyclone Yasi: February 3, 2011; Category 5

As the Bureau of Meteorology put it at the time: "Yasi is one of the most powerful cyclones to have affected Queensland since records commenced". It caused $800 million in damage.

Cyclone Oswald: January 21, 2013; Category 1

Made landfall on the Gulf town of Kowanyama on January 21 before tracking south-easterly. The storm eventually reached the NSW border and resulted in 3 fatalities and a $1.3 billion damage bill.

Cyclone Marcia: February 20, 2015; Category 5

Cyclone Marcia slammed into the Queensland coast to the north of Rockhampton. The system led to widespread property damage and more than 10,000 insurance claims. The damage bill topped $750 million.

 

Cyclone Debbie: March 28, 2017; category 4

Crossed near Airlie Beach with wind gusts in excess of 200km/h and rainfall of more than 1000mm. The system caused widespread damage from Townsville to Lismore, and resulted in a $1.7 billion bill.


‘Fake tits, wanker’: BHP workers sacked for Xmas party brawl

premium_icon ‘Fake tits, wanker’: BHP workers sacked for Xmas party brawl

Expletives, a supervisor punched, woman asked if she 'had fake tits’

Two injured after crash on Gregory Cannon Valley Rd

premium_icon Two injured after crash on Gregory Cannon Valley Rd

One person was trapped after the two-vehicle crash.

One person taken to hospital after boating incident

premium_icon One person taken to hospital after boating incident

Paramedics meet boat on shore to provide treatment.