Cyclone to hit western Cape York
BREAKING NEWS: A TROPICAL low in the Gulf of Carpentaria is expected to become a category 1 cyclone by 4pm today and cross the coast somewhere between Kowanyama and Aurukun according to the latest forecast track map.
The western Cape York communities are battering down as the system approaches the coastline with gale-force winds set to last the coast between Karumba and Weipa.
The Bureau of Meteorology says abnormally high tides will also affect the entire coastline and heavy rainfall may lead to flooding throughout the Gulf, Cape and Torres Strait tomorrow.
The news comes as the Far North region continues to mop up following its first major rain of the season.
High seas have already caused problems for fishermen, with three from Cape York walking for two days before being plucked off the beach south of Weipa after their boat was swamped.
Meanwhile, more than 200mm fell at the Cape York community of Kowanyama over the weekend. Weipa also copped a soaking and the rain extended right down the coastline as more than 125mm fell at Innisfail.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg according to Cairns duty forecaster Andrew Mostyn, with emergency services sending out safety messages as the monsoon parks itself directly over Cairns.
"The wet season has definitely started," Mr Mostyn said.
"We're expecting the low in the Gulf to develop as it moves north, with the potential of being a Category 1 cyclone by tomorrow evening (this evening)," he said.
"It is expected to cross somewhere between Weipa and Normanton."
The tiny Gulf island of Smeers, just off Mornington Island, had the dubious honour of being the wettest spot in the region, with 213mm falling over 24 hours from 9am on Friday.
The bureau released strong wind warnings throughout the Cape yesterday and Mr Mostyn said the Cairns coastline could expect major falls beginning tomorrow as the aftermath of the low is felt.
A second low has also formed off the Queensland coast just south of Cairns but Mr Mostyn said it was not expected to have any impact.
Emergency Management Queensland regional director Wayne Coutts said disaster response plans for the region were well prepared but he urged residents to discuss evacuation plans with their families.
"At this time, people should have done all their (cyclone preparation) stuff but even just consider things with the family what would be the things you'd grab in an emergency?" Mr Coutts said.
He said with the impending heavy falls, flash flooding was a major concern, although centres were well equipped with sandbags and other equipment.
Cairns district duty officer Senior Sergeant Dion Readman said the three fishermen rescued near Weipa had left Aurukun in a dinghy around 10am on Friday but were forced on to rocks at Pera Head later that day.
He said the trio had been trying to walk to Weipa when they were found yesterday.
"We're entering monsoon time and obviously conditions on the roads and, as we can see by this example, on the sea, are very dangerous this time of year, so we're just asking people to take care and plan their journeys carefully," he said.
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Gulf low: Triplets Ben, Jessica and Jake Honeyball are well equipped to handle the wet season, which has well and truly started. Pictures: BRENDAN FRANCIS, TOM LEE