Far-north Queensland residents are battening down the hatches, with a tropical cyclone possibly strengthening before it crosses the coast in the next 24 hours.
The Bureau of Meteorology said category one Tropical Cyclone Kimi was barrelling south about 90km east of Cairns at 11am AEDT on Monday.
Kimi is a compact but powerful storm, which the bureau says may intensify into a category two system with gusts up to 130km/h before it turns southwest and crosses the coast late on Monday night or on Tuesday.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall between Innisfail and Lucinda.
However, the forecasters warned that could change, with the unstable system hard to predict.
“Tropical Cyclone Kimi continues to move slowly southwards and is likely to get closer to the coast later today,” the BOM said in a statement.
“The system may intensify a little further to a category two system.”
“Based on the current forecast track, the cyclone may cross the coast overnight or Tuesday between about Innisfail and Lucinda; however, there remains considerable uncertainty with the crossing time and location.”
Residents of the whole warning area from Port Douglas to Ayr, including Cairns and Townsville, are being told to prepare for gales up to 120km/h, heavy rains and abnormally high tides.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is urging people to listen carefully to media reports and updates on where the cyclone moves.
“Everybody in the north, in the far north of our state, should be listening to the media reports very very closely because the bureau will be giving those reports every three hours, and we’ll be giving a further update from the state government this afternoon,” she told reporters.
People between Port Douglas and Lucinda are being urged to get ready and secure their boats and homes in particular.
“I know we’re Queenslanders, I know we go through cyclones every single year but please do not be complacent,” Police Minister Mark Ryan said.
The bureau also warns that heavy rainfall could bring flash flooding and major river flooding to coastal and hinterland areas between Port Douglas and Ayr on Monday and Tuesday.
Mr Ryan said a flood watch was issued for waterways including the Jeannie, Endeavour, Daintree, Mossman, Barron, Mulgrave, Russell, Johnstone, Tully, Murray and Herbert rivers.
“So if you’re in those areas you need to prepare … if it’s flooded forget it, have a plan about where you’ll be travelling, bear in mind where those river catchments are, be aware that during this event you could have flash flooding,” he said.
Parts of the Wooroonooran, Girramay and Paluma Range national parks, and the Abergowrie State Forest, have been closed.
With the cyclone set to dump rain on large parts of Queensland’s interior, flood warnings have also been issued for a number of inland rivers.
The Norman and Gilbert rivers in the Gulf Country and most of the Queensland tributaries of Lake Eyre could break their banks.
The cyclone comes as the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization named 2016, 2019 and 2020 the world’s hottest years on record.
The WMO said the average global temperature in 2020 was about 14.9 degrees Celsius – a figure 1.2 C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level.
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