Cyclone Ita downgraded after making landfall as Category 4

03.00AM: TROPICAL Cyclone Ita has been downgraded to a Category Two storm and continues to gradually weaken as it moves south-southwest inland from Cooktown after crossing the coast near Cape Flattery around 9pm.

At 3:00am, Ita was estimated to be 15km west of Cooktown and 175km north-northwest of Cairns, moving at a rate of 13km/h.

Destructive winds with gusts to 150km/h are possible between Cape Melville and Cape Tribulation for a period this morning. Destructive winds with wind gusts to 130km/h may develop as far south as Port Douglas later this morning.


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Gales may extend to adjacent inland areas including Laura and south to Cairns and Mareeba during the day and possibly as far south as Innisfail, Chillagoe and Cardwell this evening.

Coastal residents between Cooktown and Cairns including Port Douglas are warned of a storm tide this morning. The sea is likely to rise to a level well above the normal high tide that may produce flooding of low-lying areas.

Very heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, is occurring about parts of the Peninsula and North Tropical Coast and Tablelands districts and should gradually contract southwards with the system over the weekend.

People in the path of the cyclone between Cape Melville and Cooktown should stay calm and remain in a secure shelter – above the expected water level – while the destructive winds occur.

Do not venture outside if you find yourself in the eye of the cyclone as very destructive winds from a different direction could resume at any time.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

00.30AM: SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Ita has been downgraded to a Category three storm and continues to gradually weaken as it moves south-southwest at 13km/h, passing just inland of Cooktown, after crossing the far north Queensland coast around 9pm on Friday.

A 159km/h wind gust was recorded as the eye of the dangerous storm made landfall near Cape Flattery. Homes have been damaged, with one reportedly “flattened” at Cooktown. Further reports the James Cook Museum has lost part of its roof.

Thousands of homes and businesses are without power across the impact zone and are expected to remain blacked out for some time.

At midnight, Ita was estimated to be 30km north of Cooktown and 195km north-northwest of Cairns. A cyclone warning remains in force for coastal areas from Cape Melville to as far south as Cardwell, extending inland to areas including Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe.

Very destructive winds with gusts to 190 kilometres per hour are possible between Cape Melville and Cooktown this morning.

Destructive winds with gusts to 150km/h are expected to develop further south to Cape Tribulation and possibly to Port Douglas later Saturday morning.

Gales may extend to adjacent inland areas including Laura and Palmerville and south to Cairns and Innisfail and inland to Chillagoe during Saturday, and possibly to Cardwell later in the evening.

There remains the small possibility that Ita could track south close to the coast tonight and maintain an intensity capable of generating wind gusts to 130 kilometres per hour in Cairns during Saturday.

A dangerous storm surge is likely to affect coastal areas between Cape Flattery and Cape Tribulation overnight and on the high tide Saturday morning. Damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas can be expected.

A storm tide which may produce minor foreshore flooding is possible between Cape Tribulation and Cairns including Port Douglas on Saturday morning.

Very heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, is developing about parts of the Peninsula and North Tropical Coast and Tablelands districts and should gradually contract southwards with the system over the weekend. Accumulated falls of 300mm are likely in some parts.

People in the path of the very dangerous cyclone between Cape Melville and Cooktown should stay calm and are reminded to remain in a secure shelter – above the expected water level – while the very destructive winds develop overnight.

Do not venture outside if you find yourself in the eye of the cyclone as very destructive winds from a different direction could resume at any time.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

11.30PM: SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Ita has been downgraded to a Category 3 system after crossing the far north Queensland coast as a strong Category 4 storm around 9pm.

A 159km/h wind gust was recorded as the eye of the dangerous storm made landfall at Cape Flattery. Homes have been damaged, with one reportedly “flattened” at Cooktown. Further reports the James Cook Museum has lost part of its roof.

Thousands of homes and businesses are without power across the impact zone and are expected to remain blacked out for some time.

At 11pm, the ferocious cyclone was estimated to be 45 kilometres north of Cooktown and 215 kilometres north-northwest of Cairns while moving south-southwest at 12km/h.

It is expected to continue moving south-southwest overnight just inland of Cooktown while gradually weakening.

Very destructive winds are expected between Cape Melville and Cooktown overnight. Gusts to 205km/h are occurring near the storm’s core and gales are extending out to 140 kilometres.

Destructive winds with wind gusts to 150km/h are expected to develop further south to Cape Tribulation and possibly to Port Douglas during Saturday morning.

There remains the small possibility that Ita could track south close to the coast tonight and maintain an intensity capable of generating destructive wind gusts to 130 kilometres per hour in Cairns during Saturday.

A Cyclone warning remains in place for coastal areas from Cape Melville to Cardwell including Cooktown, Port Douglas and Cairns, and extending inland to areas including Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe.

Coastal residents between Cape Flattery and Cape Tribulation, including Cooktown are specifically warned of the dangerous storm tide overnight and on the high tide Saturday morning. The sea is likely to rise steadily up to a level which will be significantly above the normal tide, with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas extending some way inland.

Coastal residents between Cape Tribulation and Cairns including Port Douglas are warned of a storm tide on Saturday morning that may produce minor flooding along the foreshore.

Very heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, is developing about parts of the Peninsula and North Tropical Coast and Tablelands districts and should gradually contract southwards with the system over the weekend. Accumulated falls of around 300mm are likely in some parts.

People in the path of the very dangerous cyclone between Cape Melville and Cooktown are advised to stay calm and remain in a secure shelter – above the expected water level – while the very destructive winds develop overnight.

People elsewhere between Coen and Innisfail and adjacent inland areas including Laura, Kalinga, Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe should complete preparations quickly and be prepared to shelter in a safe place.

Ita was downgraded from a Category five storm with 300km/h winds around 5pm on Friday, just hours before slamming into the coast as a Category four system.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

10.20PM: THE EYE of category-four Cyclone Ita began crossing the far north Queensland coast near Cape Flattery around 9pm with very destructive winds to 230km/h near the core.

A 159km/h wind gust was recorded at Cape Flattery around 9pm. Further south in Cooktown, 120km/h wind gusts have reportedly flattened one home and torn the roof off several others. There are also reports of damage to the James Cook Museum.

Thousands of homes and businesses are now without power across the impact zone and may remain blacked out for some time.

Destructive wind gusts in excess of 125km/h are expected to develop elsewhere between Cape Melville and Cooktown tonight, extending south to Cape Tribulation overnight and possibly to Port Douglas during Saturday morning.

The cyclone is moving at a slow speed of around 10km/h with its centre still estimated to be around 65km north of Cooktown and 230 kilometres north-northwest of Cairns. Gales area extending out to 140km.

It is expected to continue heading south-southwest overnight while gradually weakening.

A Cyclone warning remains in place for coastal areas from Cape Melville to Cardwell including Cooktown, Port Douglas and Cairns, and extending inland to areas including Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe.

Coastal residents between Cape Flattery and Cape Tribulation, including Cooktown are specifically warned of the dangerous storm tide overnight and on the high tide Saturday morning.

Coastal residents between Cape Tribulation and Cairns including Port Douglas are warned of a storm tide on Saturday morning that may produce minor flooding along the foreshore.

Ita was downgraded from a Category five storm with 300km/h winds around 5pm on Friday, just hours before slamming into the coast.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

8.00PM: SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Ita – still a Category 4 storm – was situated approximately 80 kilometres north-northeast of Cooktown and 240 kilometres north of Cairns while moving south southwest at 11km/h.

The Bureau advises the dangerous cyclone will make landfall near Cape Flattery in the next couple of hours with very destructive winds to 275km/h near the core and gales extending out to 185km from the centre.

Destructive wind gusts of 139km/h are currently impacting Cape Flattery and should develop elsewhere between Cape Melville and Cooktown this evening, extending south to Cape Tribulation overnight and possibly to Port Douglas during Saturday morning.

Gales are occurring between Cape Melville and Cooktown and should extend south to Cape Tribulation this evening and inland to Laura and Palmerville overnight. Gales may extend south to Cairns and Innisfail and inland to Chillagoe during Saturday, and possibly to Cardwell later in the evening.

Very heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, is developing about parts of the Peninsula and North Tropical Coast and Tablelands districts and should gradually contract southwards with the system over the weekend.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

07.00PM: CATEGORY 4 Cyclone Ita is lashing far north Queensland tonight, with the storm’s core expected to make landfall near Cape Flattery between 7pm and 10pm.

Currently situated approximately 90 kilometres north-northeast of Cooktown and 250 kilometres north of Cairns, the storm continues to move in a general south-southwest direction at 11km/h.

Destructive winds to 275km, between 400-600mm of rainfall and a dangerously high storm surge is expected.

At 7.04pm, 135km/h winds were battering Cape Flattery. Homes built before 1985 may be destroyed.

A Cyclone Warning is current for coastal areas from Coen to Innisfail including Cooktown, Port Douglas and Cairns, and extending inland to areas including Kalinga, Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe.

A Cyclone Watch is current for coastal areas from Innisfail to Cardwell, extending to adjacent inland areas.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

6.00PM: CATEGORY 4 Cyclone Ita is beginning to make landfall near Cape Flattery, with wind gusts of 124km/h already lashing the area.

The destructive storm’s core is expected to cross the coast within a matter of hours, currently situated approximately 105 kilometres north-northeast of Cooktown and 265 kilometres north of Cairns while moving towards the coast at 12km/h.

Very destructive winds to 275km/h are expected near the core and gales extending out to 185km from the centre.

A dangerously high storm surge of up to 2m above normal high tide and between 400-600mm of rainfall is expected.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

5.00PM: SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Ita has been downgraded to a Category 4 system, with winds to 275km/h still expected to lash the far north Queensland coast as it makes landfall near Cape Flattery tonight.

The Weather Bureau said the Category 4 storm still poses a serious threat to communities along the far north Queensland coast.

At 5:00pm, the destructive storm was situated around 115km north-northeast of Cooktown and 270km north of Cairns, and moving towards the coast at 13km/h.

At 4.55pm, a 122km/h wind gust was recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology on land at Cape Flattery.

Destructive winds with gusts in excess of 125 kilometres per hour are currently occurring at Cape Flattery and should develop elsewhere between Cape Melville and Cooktown this evening, extending south to Cape Tribulation overnight and possibly to Port Douglas during Saturday morning.

Gales are occurring between Cape Melville and Cooktown and should extend south to Cape Tribulation this evening and inland to Laura and Palmerville overnight. Gales may extend south to Cairns and Innisfail and inland to Chillagoe during Saturday, and possibly to Cardwell later in the evening.

There remains the small possibility that Ita could track south close to the coast tonight and maintain an intensity capable of generating destructive wind gusts to 150 kilometres per hour in Cairns during Saturday.

People in the path destructive storm between Cape Melville and Cooktown should stay calm and remain in a secure shelter – above the expected water level – while the very destructive winds develop into tonight.

You should 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.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY

4.00PM: CATEGORY 5 Cyclone Ita could lift homes and cars when it slams into the far north Queensland coast tonight.

Packing winds of 295km/h, Ita is now one of the most powerful weather systems to ever threaten Australia – the strongest ever in Queensland.

At 4pm, Ita was situated approximately 120 kilometres north-northeast of Cooktown and 280 kilometres north of Cairns, moving in a general south-southwesterly direction towards the coast at 14km/h with a central pressure reading of 931 hectoPascals.

The destructive cyclone is expected to make landfall between Cape Melville and Cooktown between 10pm and midnight as a Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone, bringing with it a dangerously high storm surge of up two 2m above the highest tide and hundreds of millimetres of rain.

Very destructive winds to 300km/h are expected near the storm’s core and gales are likely to extend out to 180km from the centre.

At 3.39pm, a 113km/h wind gust was recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology on land at Cape Flattery.

It is estimated close to 9,000 residents will be directly affected across the warning zone with some 250 houses built before 1985 likely to be torn apart.

Although smaller in size, the system is now stronger than Category 5 Cyclone Yasi which devastated parts of the far north with winds of 285km/h in 2011.

“It will cause significant destruction of buildings and that’s why if people haven’t evacuated already and they are living in a pre-1985 dwelling, they should take action immediately and go to a Cyclone shelter in either Cooktown or Hope Vale or go to a dwelling or a building that was constructed after 1985 that has been well maintained,” Premier Campbell Newman said on Friday afternoon.

Evacuees are reminded to take with them important documents, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, jewellery and cash. Residents are also advised to charge their mobile phones now and switch off any applications which may drain battery life.

The Premier compared Cyclone Ita’s intensity to Typhoon Haiyan – the strongest typhoon ever recorded – which packed winds in excess of 315km/h and killed more than 6000 people when it obliterated parts of South East Asia in November 2013.

The powerful storm is expected to weaken over land overnight, however, there remains the possibility that Ita will track southwards close to the coast tonight and maintain cyclone intensity for longer into Saturday with wind gusts around 150km/h possible at Port Douglas and Cairns.

The Weather Bureau says it is expected to continue moving towards the south-southwest, posing a serious threat to communities along the far north Queensland coast.

4pm

CYCLONE ITA track map Issued at 3:59 pm EST Friday 11 April 2014.

A Cyclone warning is current for coastal areas from Coen to Innisfail including Cooktown, Port Douglas and Cairns, and extending inland to areas including Kalinga, Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe.

A Cyclone watch is current for coastal areas from Innisfail to Cardwell, extending to adjacent inland areas.

Destructive winds with wind gusts in excess of 125 kilometres per hour may develop between Cape Melville and Cooktown during this afternoon, extending south to Cape Tribulation and possibly to Port Douglas tonight.

Gales are currently occurring between Cape Melville and Cape Flattery and should develop elsewhere between Coen and Cape Tribulation during this evening before extending inland to Laura and Palmerville tonight. Gales may extend south to Cairns and Innisfail and inland to Chillagoe overnight, and possibly to Cardwell during Saturday.

Very heavy rain, which may lead to flash flooding, is expected to develop about parts of the Peninsula and North Tropical Coast and Tablelands districts during this afternoon and persist into the weekend. The very heavy rain should gradually contract southwards with the system over the weekend. Accumulated falls of between 400mm-600mm are likely.

Dangerous storm tides are expected, particularly between Cape Melville and Cape Tribulation including Cooktown, as the cyclone crosses the coast. The Weather Bureau warns the sea is likely to rise steadily up to a level which will be significantly above the normal tide, with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas extending some way inland.

People living in areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property as much as possible and be prepared to follow instructions regarding evacuation of the area if advised to do so by the authorities.

People between Cape Sidmouth and Innisfail and adjacent inland areas including Laura, Kalinga, Palmerville, Mareeba and Chillagoe should complete preparations quickly and be prepared to shelter in a safe place.

SES: 132 500 | CYCLONE WARNINGS | CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS & SAFETY