An expected tropical cyclone could cross the Queensland coast weaker than initially feared but is likely to bring “widespread flooding” to multiple areas.
The formation of Cyclone Kirrily from a tropical low in the Coral Sea is predicted to happen overnight Tuesday or early on Wednesday — approximately 24 hours later than previously thought.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Weather bureau revises advice on potential cyclone off Queensland.
Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>
That means while it is still forecast to make landfall as a category three system, it will have less time to intensify as it moves towards the Australian mainland.
“The chance of a severe tropical cyclone on landfall still remains, but that risk has slightly decreased overnight,” Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Laura Boekel said on Tuesday morning.
“Our most likely scenario is still … a category three crossing.
“(But) we are getting more information and some of that is indicating is it might not be able to reach that category three (strength) before it gets to the coast. So that’s definitely a watch-and-see situation.”
Previous modelling showed the system developing into a category three well offshore, leading to fears it could have intensified into a category four or five storm before reaching the mainland.
Bureau of Meteorology cyclone mapping shows the path of an expected cyclone off northern Queensland. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology
Premier Steven Miles said the stretch of the coast from Cardwell to Airlie Beach should be on alert.
“Widespread flooding is likely to follow the cyclone crossing the coast,” he said.
“The crossing and the flooding are likely to impact highly populated areas like Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton.
“It’s incredibly important that individuals and households prepare themselves.
“Making sure you have a radio, batteries, bottled water and canned food, and that you secure any loose objects that could become dangerous, is the best way you can help our emergency services.
“If there are people who live near you who are vulnerable who might need assistance today, this is the day to reach out to them and offer to help them.”
The tropical low is located about 800km northeast of Townsville on Tuesday morning, moving slowly in a southwest direction.
Path of destruction
People in its path, including the Whitsunday islands, have been warned of wind gusts of up to 120km/h from Wednesday evening.
Destructive winds of up to 150km/h could be felt between Cardwell and Bowen including Townsville on Thursday, the bureau warns.
Flooding that results from the system is possible for areas between Townsville and St Lawrence, as well as inland locations as far north as Cairns.
“Intense rainfall which may lead to dangerous and life-threatening flash flooding is possible close to the system, most likely during Thursday,” the bureau said in an alert.
The system is expected to move in a south-easterly direction as a tropical low after it makes landfall, Boekel said.
“After the cyclone crosses the coast, it’s then expected to weaken into a tropical low,” she said.
“However, as it moves further inland and then south across central and southern Queensland, it will still have with it a significant amount of rainfall.
“This could bring heavy rainfall to areas across central and south inland Queensland later this week, into the weekend and into next week as well.
“So this could be a very widespread, as well as very long duration event.”
Emergency services are being mobilised in the north and disaster response officials are “effectively planning two events”, said state disaster coordinator Shane Chelepy.
“We’re planning for the cyclone crossing,” he said.
“We’re also planning for a secondary event which may come from the intense rainfall that the bureau is forecasting, including flash flooding and riverine flooding.”