SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Owen – now Category 3 – is forecast to intensify further as it tracks east, back across the Gulf of Carpentaria tonight, before slamming into Queensland’s top end tomorrow.
The Category 3 storm is currently located on the Northern Territory coast in the southwestern Gulf of Carpentaria between Port Roper and Port McArthur, west of Bing Bong.
It is forecast to continue moving slowly east towards Queensland before making landfall as a Category 4 system, somewhere between Karumba and Pormpuraaw late on Friday.
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A cyclone warning is current for areas between Numbulwar in the Northern Territory to Aurukun in Queensland, including Borroloola, Mornington Island, Karumba, Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw.
An Emergency Alert was sent to residents in Pormpuraaw this afternoon, advising them to check on their neighbours, secure their belongings, and to seek shelter from midday on Friday.
Severe Tropical #CycloneOwen 🌀remained virtually stationary on the southern Gulf coast and has now turned and started moving in an easterly direction towards Queensland. Conditions remain favourable for further intensification to Cat 4 strength overnight: https://t.co/rVLE6inkt8 pic.twitter.com/gYqrtG0ufE
— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) December 13, 2018
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Assistant Commissioner Kevin Walsh said now was the time to finalise preparations.
“Stock an emergency kit with essential supplies including food, water, warm clothes, medications, first aid supplies, important documents, valuables, a battery-powered or wind up radio and sleeping gear,” Mr Walsh said.
“Aside from destructive winds, this system also brings with it the risk of flooding and storm surges.
“A Flood Watch is already in place for catchments in the Gulf, southern Cape York peninsula and the tropical coast.
“Flash flooding is likely to develop about the islands and coastal areas of the western and southern Gulf of Carpentaria from as early as today.
“Heavy rainfall is also likely across southern Cape York Peninsula later Friday and Saturday.
“Residents about the south-east Gulf of Carpentaria coast are warned there could be a dangerous storm tide. Tides will rise significantly above the normal high tide with the potential for dangerous flooding.”
TC Owen is expected to steer down the east coast of Queensland on Saturday and Sunday as a low pressure system, bringing with it heavy rain, strong winds, and potential flooding.
Mr Walsh urged Queenslanders to stay up to date with the latest warnings and weather forecasts, and to follow the advice of authorities.
“Never enter floodwater by foot or in a vehicle, and always discourage others from doing so too. Remember: if it’s flooded, forget it,” he said.
“Motorists should have a plan B ready in case their route is blocked by water, so plan an alternate route ahead of time or identify a safe location you can wait for floodwater to recede.”
Mr Walsh said Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were undertaking planning activities in anticipation for TC Owen and were ready to respond to affected areas.
“We have pre-deployed personnel to bolster capacity and provide support to areas in the cyclone’s path,” he said.
“We are asking the community to do their bit, too, and take the necessary steps now to ensure they are safe regardless of where they live.
“You cannot prevent severe weather events, but you can be proactive before they occur and take appropriate actions during them.”
For storm and flood assistance contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500 and in a life-threatening emergency call Triple Zero (000).
Stay up to date with current weather conditions by visiting www.bom.gov.au.
For information on road closures, click here.