News State QLD News Ita downgraded, “absolute mayhem” still predicted

Ita downgraded, “absolute mayhem” still predicted

Cyclone Ita
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‘Very destructive’ Cyclone Ita set to slam coast
What does ‘category 5 cyclone’ mean?

Far north Queensland is still facing a destructive cyclone and locals have been warned not to be complacent after the storm was downgraded.

Tropical Cyclone Ita is expected to cross the coast near Cooktown, north of Cairns, between 9pm on Friday and midnight.  

Queensland’s Bureau of Meteorology downgraded Ita from a category five to a category four at 5pm.

Coastal residents between Cape Melville and Cape Tribulation, including Cooktown, are being warned of a dangerous storm tide.

Premier Campbell Newman has warned residents to take care.

“It’s still a destructive cyclone which has very strong winds and the communities of Hopevale and Cooktown are staring down quite a destructive cyclonic event,” he told reporters in Cairns.

He said those residents should have moved to cyclone shelters or homes on higher ground.

The safest part of a house is the bathroom because of the plumbing and strength of the structure, he added.

“We all can get through this without anyone being injured or killed,” he told reporters in Cairns.

Crews on standby

“I want people to know you are not alone. We are all being backed up by a very big team.”

Mr Newman said a large number of fire crews, ambulances, police and other services were ready to swing into action.

There could be massive storm surges from Cape Tribulation to Cairns, with Cooktown expected to have surges of up to two metres above normal tides during the black of night.

Damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas are expected in the area.

Destructive winds may hit Cairns and Innisfail and as far inland as Chillagoe on Saturday.

“Absolute mayhem”

The powerful storm will rip off roof tops, destroy homes and level forests, James Cook University Geoscience Professor Jonathan Nott, who is in Cooktown to study Ita, told AAP.

“It will be absolute mayhem,” he said.

“If this tracking doesn’t change in the next six hours then I think it will be an absolute calamity.

“There’ll be a lot of building damage, a lot of trees and tin lying across roads, power lines down … and if this cyclone maintains its strength we will see the forests stripped.”

Prof Nott said weather conditions, including sea surface temperatures, have been a perfect environment for it to form.

He said Ita is small but as intense as Yasi, which tore through Queensland in 2011.