North Queensland battens down hatches as Cyclone Kirrily forms

Latest update on Cyclone Kirrily

Source: Bureau of Meteorology

The long wait for Tropical Cyclone Kirrily is finally over.

North Queensland is bracing for its impact with damaging winds and heavy rain to lash the region as early as Thursday night.

A tropical low finally developed into Cyclone Kirrily in the Coral Sea on Wednesday afternoon, days after it was first forecast to arrive.

Kirrily is forescast to cross the coast near Townsville, between Cardwell and Bowen, as a category two system on Thursday night, bringing destructive winds and “life threatening” flash flooding.

“People … should get ready now,” Queensland Premier Steven Miles said.

There are evacuation plans for communities in Kirrily’s projected path while extra police, energy and emergency crews from across Queensland and interstate are on standby.

Townsville airport will close on Thursday, along with 120 schools, as north Queensland bunkers down.

The first sign of Kirrily will be felt at the Whitsunday Islands, where winds of 120km/h were expected on Wednesday night.

Kirrily was initially forecast to arrive as a severe category three system.

It has been scaled back to category two, but the Bureau of Meteorology has warned against complacency. Kirrily was still expected to have winds strong enough to damage homes, bring down trees and cause power outages, the bureau said.

“We still are expected to see significant impacts from these winds,” meteorologist Laura Boekel said.

Then there is the heavy rain and flooding.

“Dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is possible near the centre and the south of that system,” Boekel said.

The 700-kilometre area between Innisfail and Sarina has been warned it may experience heavy falls and flooding.

People have been told to limit their travel in areas in Kirrily’s path.

Residents have also been asked to reconsider Australia Day long weekend plans, with national parks between Cardwell and Airlie Beach temporarily closed from Wednesday.

Once Kirrily crosses the coast, it is expected to weaken as it heads inland.

However, the system is still expected to cause devastation.

“It’s important to know it’s not just about that crossing but what the system will do once it has crossed the coast,” Boekel said.

The low is expected to bring widespread rain and flooding that may affect Queensland for days, with heavy showers set to hit central and western regions from Friday.

The south-east may also be affected indirectly by rain and potential flooding, barely a month after a disastrous Christmas period.

Kirrily is the second cyclone to threaten Queensland in weeks.

Cyclone Jasper caused record flooding that devastated the far north in mid-December.

Severe weather then struck the state’s south-east, with seven people dying in storm-related incidents.

The Insurance Council of Australia said the back-to-back disasters had exceeded $743 million in insured losses.

Fatigued emergency crews are still recovering.

However, they have been bolstered by the arrival of more than 50 personnel from NSW and Victoria.

Meanwhile, Cyclone Anggrek is slowly moving away from the Cocos Islands off Western Australia.

The category two system will leave Australian waters on Thursday.

In WA, heavy rainfall up to 100 millimetres and 90km/h winds have been forecast for parts of the Pilbara, Gascoyne, Goldfields and Southern Interior with a severe weather warning current.


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