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Kirrily downgraded to ex-cyclone after ‘tense’ night

Cyclone Kirrily downgraded after hitting Townsville

Cyclone Kirrily has been downgraded to a tropical low after crossing the Queensland coast north-west of Townsville and leaving tens of thousands of properties without power.

The weather system brought damaging winds and rainfall totals from 100-150 millimetres on Thursday night but minimal property damage.

“It’s been a really tense night for many people in the state’s north, but they are waking up with a sense of relief,” Queensland Premier Steven Miles said.

“Yesterday we said we were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best and largely that seems to be what has happened.”

No lives have been lost in the cyclone, although 64,000 homes and businesses remain without power in north Queensland.

Authorities said 215 calls for service were made to the SES in the last 24 hours and no swift water rescues needed.

More calls for service are expected as the cleanup from Cylone Kirrily slowly begins.

The Bureau of Meteorology has warned remnants from the former cyclone would move to western parts of Queensland in coming days, bringing extreme moisture and heavy-to-intense rainfall.

Flood watches will continue for areas between Tully, Airlie Beach, parts of the central west and Gulf catchments.

There is also the possibility for minor-to-major riverine flooding in those areas as the system moves west.

Conditions must clear before crews can assess the full extent of the damage to the grid. Ergon Energy said the priority was to reconnect emergency services, hospitals, schools and critical infrastructure.

Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt said the weather event would likely fall within capacity of the state government.

Australian Defence Force resources remain on standby where required.

Townsville Airport remained shut as of 8am on Friday.

Kirrily approached the coast on Thursday night as a severe category three system, producing gusts up to 170km/h.

Its intensity slipped to category two just before making landfall about 10pm and eased to a category one system after moving inland, with maximum gusts of 120km/h about midnight.

Offshore reefs registered peak gusts up to 140km/h with sustained winds above 116km/h. Closer to the coast the top gusts were 107km/h at Alva Beach and around the Townsville area, 91km/h.

Kirrily was about 170 kilometres west-south-west of Townsville and continuing southwest at 24km/h about 4am on Friday.

The rapidly transforming system lingered in the Coral Sea for days, a tropical low finally developed into Cyclone Kirrily on Wednesday. It was then upgraded to category two on Thursday morning but took just five hours to reach category three status.

North Queensland had bunkered down by 2pm AEST on Thursday as winds intensified.

More than 120 schools were closed with hundreds of emergency services on standby.

Many Australia Day ceremonies planned for Friday were cancelled while Queensland Rail services north of Rockhampton were suspended.

A continued monsoon in north Queensland will be monitored closely by the bureau as it is expected to bring heavy rainfall to the region in the latter part of next week.

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