Cyclone Owen downgraded to ‘tropical low’

UPDATE at 4:20 PM | TROPICAL Cyclone Owen has officially been downgraded to a tropical low as it continues to weaken overland in Far North Queensland.

Owen crossed the coast between the remote indigenous town of Kowanyama and the mouth of the Gilbert River as a low end Category 3 storm about 3am.

The Ex-Tropical Cyclone is moving east-southeast over the state’s northern interior at about 27km/h, bringing with it heavy rainfall and wind gusts up to 85km/h.


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Widespread gale force and damaging wind gusts are no longer expected with the system.

Heavy rainfall which may lead to flash flooding, however, is occurring near the low and is expected to extend east across the southern Cape York Peninsula as the now-tropical low moves further east.

Heavy rain is also forecast to develop about the North Tropical Coast and Herbert and Lower Burdekin districts over the weekend.

As a result, a Severe Weather Warning is current for the area, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning six-hour rainfall totals of between 100-200mm are possible.

For people in North Tropical Coast and Tablelands and parts of Peninsula, Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders and Herbert and Lower Burdekin Forecast Districts.

UPDATED at 11:10 AM | TROPICAL Cyclone Owen is expected to continue weakening as it moves east across Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula after making landfall early on Saturday morning.

The storm crossed the coast between the remote indigenous town of Kowanyama and the Gilbert River Mouth, on the western Cape York, as a “low end Category 3 system” about 3am.

It has since been downgraded to a Category 1 storm and is expected to drop below tropical cyclone intensity later this afternoon or evening.

Incredibly, communities in the cyclone’s path appear to have escaped relatively unscathed, with drone footage showing towns in the area virtually untouched.

There have been no deaths or injuries associated with the storm, and no structural damage has been reported.

“Everything’s still intact,” Kowanyama mayor Michael Yam told AAP after the storm had passed through on Saturday morning.

The cyclone dumped 146mm of rain south of Kowanyama in just two hours between 5 and 7am.

Destructive winds with gusts to 130km/h were still occurring around the eye of the cyclone as it moved inland northeast of Normanton about 7am.

At 10am, gales with gusts up to 120km/h were being felt about 60km north of the eye, while gales were extending 90km to the south of the storm.

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

The warning covers the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands and parts of the Peninsula, Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders and Herbert and Lower Burdekin forecast districts.

Heavy rainfall, which may lead to flash flooding, is expected to develop over the warning area this afternoon and evening.

The weather bureau warns six hour rainfall totals of between 100-200mm are possible, particularly with thunderstorms.

“The heavy rainfall may persist into Sunday, particularly about the coast, as the system moves further east or southeast towards the Coral Sea,” the bureau said.

“Damaging winds, with peak gusts in excess of 90km/h, are likely near the system as it moves east over the northern interior during today, and may extend to the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands district this afternoon and evening.”

“Damaging wind gusts will also be possible about the northern beaches of Cairns during Sunday morning.”

Locations which may be affected include Chillagoe, Port Douglas, Cairns, Mareeba, Innisfail, Tully, Cardwell, Ingham, Palm Island and Townsville.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Owen is expected to be located between Ingham and Innisfail as a tropical low in the early hours of Sunday morning before tracking down Queensland’s east coast.

The weather bureau says there is some possibility the low will move offshore of the east tropical coast during Sunday.

“At this point, the system is deemed to have a low to moderate chance of reforming off the east tropical coast during Sunday or Monday.”

“The situation will be monitored carefully and tropical cyclone advisories issued if the risk increases.”

At this stage, the system is no longer expected to impact southeast Queensland.

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