Cyclone Owen to bring wild weather to Queensland over coming days
Destructive winds, possible flooding and wild weather is expected to batter much of Queensland over the coming days as the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicts Tropical Cyclone Owen will intensify into a category-three system by tomorrow.
- Tropical Cyclone Owen is expected to cross the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria coast on Friday
- Shark control protection equipment is being removed from Queensland beaches ahead of the predicted wild weather
- A large cloud band with embedded thunderstorms is expected to reach over a large part of the eastern seaboard
BOM said the unfolding situation has the “potential to be a high-impact event” as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned Queenslanders in the cyclone’s path to consider their emergency plans.
Cyclone Owen is currently moving slowly westward in the Gulf of Carpentaria as a category-two system and is expected to intensify into a category-three system tomorrow morning while doing a U-turn back toward the Queensland coast.
The bureau’s Extreme Weather Desk manager, James Taylor, said the state’s east coast can expect some severe weather as a result of the cyclone moving eastward and a low-pressure system developing over Victoria on Thursday.
“This system has the potential to draw moisture southward from Tropical Cyclone Owen, creating a heavy rainfall risk from a large cloud band with embedded thunderstorms over a large part of the eastern seaboard,” he said.
Mr Taylor said there’s the potential for very damaging and destructive winds.
“For Cyclone Owen at category two we’re already worried about wind gusts in excess of 130km/h. Reaching category three that could see wind gusts up 165km/h or more so that’s a severe tropical cyclone.”
A minor flood warning is in place for the Murray River while a flood watch is current for the Gulf of Carpentaria, southern Cape York Peninsula and Tropical North Coast.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads is helping council organise more flights out of Mornington Island today to allow people to leave.
Communities on alert
Bundaberg Regional Council’s disaster manager, Matt Dyer, said the region, that was recently ravaged by the intense bushfires, should now start preparing for flooding.
Mr Dyer said the system could bring up to 150ml to the Wide Bay area, with “very wet and very windy” conditions predicted for Sunday.
“Flash flooding along the coast is definitely something we keep an eye on,” he said.
“The modelling right now suggests that the heaviest rainfall isn’t anything like we saw in TC Oswald [the cyclone that hit Queensland and New South Wales in 2013].
“It will be quite heavy and very windy by the coast, there’s no doubt about that.
“Just be aware of what’s going on around you right now. If you have a bunch of stuff in your backyard that you think could become a missile in these strong winds, put them away.”
Queensland Health will today evacuate more than 20 patients from Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama ahead of Cyclone Owen’s return tomorrow.
The Torres and Cape Health Service’s, Dean Davidson, said emergency generators were being organised and vulnerable patients would be flown out of remote Cape York communities.
“It’s really those patients we are focusing on that have dialysis and we need to ensure there is clean water and electricity so we’re also looking at if there is any elderly patients that we have in the area,” Mr Davidson said.
Shark control protection equipment is being removed from Queensland beaches ahead of the predicted wild weather.
Fisheries Queensland’s acting shark control program manager, Sam Fary, said high and rough seas can cause equipment to come adrift which could be a danger to swimmers and boats.
“The nets and drumlines will be coming out over the next few days due to the winds that are predicted on the low that’s moving down the coast,” he said.
“The situation will be monitored closely over the next few days and teams will be prepared to reinstall the gear when and if the weather allows us to do it.”
Nets will be removed from the Gold and Sunshine Coast over the next two days before equipment is removed from beaches at Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Bundaberg.
“Given school holidays are about to start, swimmers are advised to follow safe swimming practices, including swimming between the flags and not swimming at dusk or dawn, particularly with the shark control equipment out of action temporarily,” Mr Davidson said.