Far North coast braces for gales as cyclone strengthens
WEDNESDAY 2PM: Coastal and island communities between Cape Melville and Innisfail could cop gales today as Cyclone Niran strengthens off the Far North.
At 1pm, the Category 2 storm was 350km northeast of Cairns and 310km east northeast of Cooktown and moving slowly.
The cyclone is forecast to reach Category 3 strength by 1am and a warning zone is in place between Cape Melville and Innisfail.
"Tropical Cyclone Niran is expected to remain slow-moving off the north Queensland coast while intensifying today and on Thursday," the BOM said in a statement.
"Coastal crossing of the cyclone is not expected.
"However, as the cyclone strengthens, it may produce gales about exposed coastal and island communities between Cape Melville and Innisfail this evening or early on Thursday.
"On Thursday, the cyclone is expected to adopt a southeasterly track and accelerate away from the coast."
The Wednesday forecast for Cairns includes winds southerly 40 to 50 kmh tending southeasterly in the middle of the day.
"Damaging wind gusts exceeding 90 kmh possible depending on movement and development of Tropical Cyclone Niran," the forecast says.
Warning zone: Cape Melville to Innisfail, including Cooktown, Port Douglas, and Cairns.
Watch zone: None
Cancelled zones: None
Gales with gusts to 100km/h may develop about exposed coastal and island communities between Cape Melville and Innisfail, including Cooktown, Port Douglas, and Cairns, this evening or early on Thursday as the cyclone intensifies.
ALERT FOR BOATIES
The Acting Regional Harbour Master has reminded users of the ports of Cairns, Half Moon Bay Marina, Cooktown, Cape Flattery, Port Douglas, Mourilyan, Innisfail, South Johnstone and Clump Point that the phase-two "preparedness" step remains in force and a weather event is likely to impact the ports within 24 hours.
Vessel operators and owners should review their safety plans and address any outstanding matters.
Severe thunderstorms are likely to produce damaging winds and heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding in parts of Cape York over the next several hours, BOM has warned.
At 1.39pm, squally thunderstorms were moving northwest towards Aurukun.
Telegraph Crossing, northwest of Coen, recorded 112mm of rain in 4.2 hours today while 46mm fell in 2.5 hours at the Scherger RAAF base east of Weipa.
The majority of Far North homes and businesses now have power restored, with about 7000 still remaining without electricity.
Just one school will stay closed on Wednesday.
For the full list of closures and outages, click here.
BOIL WATER NOTICE
Cairns Regional Council has advised Bartle Frere to boil drinking water until further notice.
Customers should bring water to a boil by heating the water until a continuous and rapid stream of air-bubbles is produced from the bottom of a pan or kettle.
Kettles with automatic cut-off switches are suitable.
Variable temperature kettles should be set to boil.
After heating, water must be allowed to cool before using it, and be stored in a clean, closed container for later use. Care should be taken to avoid scalding injuries.
Customers should boil all water used for:
■ Brushing teeth
■ Washing and preparing food or beverages
■ Preparing baby formula
■ Making ice
Unboiled water can be used for:
■ Showering and bathing (avoid swallowing water). As a precaution babies and toddlers should be sponge bathed to prevent them swallowing water
■ Washing dishes by hand or in a dishwasher, providing dishes are air-dried before being used after washing
■ Washing clothes
Originally published as Far North coast braces for gales as cyclone strengthens