Severe Tropical Cyclone Owen has developed into a category three system and may reach category four intensity today.
It is currently on the north-east Northern Territory coast between Port Roper and Port McArthur, just west of Bing Bong.
A warning remains in place for Numbulwar in the Northern Territory, to Aurukun in Queensland, including Borroloola, Mornington Island, Karumba, Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw.
A watch zone now extends inland from Karumba to Aurukun as far as Georgetown, Chillagoe and Coen.
A warning from Alyangula to Numbulwar in the Northern Territory, including Groote Eylandt, has been cancelled.
The cyclone is currently 95 kilometres south-east of Port Roper and 85 kilometres north-west of Port McArthur.
It is forecast to start moving slowly eastwards back towards the Queensland coast during Thursday.
As it tracks east, it is likely to pass close to Port McArthur.
The system is likely to cross the coast along the south-east Gulf of Carpentaria coast between Karumba to Pormpuraaw later on Friday, and there is a chance it could cross the coast as a category four system.
Tropical Cyclone Owen now has sustained winds near the centre of 150 kilometres per hour with wind gusts to 205 kilometres per hour.
Today, islands and coastal areas of the western and southern Gulf of Carpentaria are expected to receive heavy rainfall, which may lead to flash flooding.
As the cyclone approaches the coast, a storm tide between Port Roper in the Northern Territory and Karumba in Queensland may develop.
This could result in tides that are significantly higher than normal, damaging waves and minor flooding between Port Roper and Karumba.
Tides are also expected to be higher between Alyangula and Port Roper, with large waves that may produce minor flooding between the two areas.
Public shelters open in NT
Seventy people moved to Borroloola’s two public shelters yesterday, while no-one attended another cyclone shelter opened at Numbulwar.
Schools in Borroloola and Numbulwar will not open as they are being used as public shelters.
“With the shelters open in Numbulwar and Borroloola, we are confident that people in the affected communities have been adequately prepared,” incident controller Brendan Muldoon said.
“With winds at incredibly dangerous speeds, it is extremely important that people stay indoors, whether that is in a public shelter or in their home if they chose to remain there.
“Do not attempt to travel anywhere as you could endanger your life and those who may need to come to your rescue.”
Boaties fishing in Gulf rescued
Northern Territory Police rescued three fishermen in distress on a boat near South West Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria on Wednesday afternoon.
Duty Superintendent Shaun Gill said a jet was deployed from Cairns and a helicopter from Katherine to locate the boaties, after their EPIRB was activated.
Although the helicopter was forced to turn back due to bad weather, the jet found the stricken anglers.
Borroloola police officers went out to sea to retrieve them.
“The message is quite clear: if you’re thinking about going boating or doing anything like that in the Gulf, don’t. Don’t even think about it,” Superintendent Gill said.
They’re not only risking their own lives, they’re also risking the lives of the people going out to rescue them.
“You could do everybody a favour and probably just stay off the water for a while.”
Meanwhile, a squall line – a line of thunderstorms – brought severe winds and rain to the Top End last night, prompting the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a warning at 10pm.
Senior forecaster Angeline Prasad told ABC Radio gusts reached 98 kilometres an hour at Darwin Harbour and 72 kilometres an hour at Darwin Airport.
The Darwin suburb of Marrara received 29mm of rain.
Ms Prasad said the squall line “emanated from the Gulf of Carpentaria” and further storms may arise in coming days.
A list of what residents should include in their emergency kit can be found on the Northern Territory Emergency Service website.
Cyclone preparedness information is available at SecureNT, and more information on weather warnings is available on the BOM website.