Cyclone watch: Disaster teams meet as storm sets to form
DISASTER teams will hold crisis talks today as a tropical cyclone shapes to hit north Queensland by early next week.
Forecasters predict a tropical cyclone will form by Sunday and slam into the coast somewhere on the 1000km stretch from Cooktown to Mackay.
Early modeling shows a likely track will be north of Townsville as a tropical low builds into a cyclone, packing torrential rain and destructive winds of at least 125km/h, and veers west over the next two days.
"It's too early to speculate about the cyclone's intensity, forecast path and where it will make landfall,'' the weather bureau's Queensland regional director Bruce Gunn said yesterday. "We will get a clearer picture in the coming days.''
Disaster management groups plan to hold briefings today to assess the threat.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said disaster crews and local residents were ready.
"It'll depend on the category, the speed it comes at us, and the risk of storm surge on how we react in the next few days," he said. "But we are geared to go.''
Authorities also hope any deluge can fill town water supplies, dams and drench drought-stricken farms.
The bureau has issued a cyclone watch for the state's tropical north and warned communities to begin preparations with a tropical low in the Coral Sea rated a high chance of becoming a cyclone by Sunday.
It will be named Cyclone Debbie after another tropical low became Cyclone Caleb off Western Australia.
The system is about 800km off Lockhart River on Cape York but will turn west toward the tropical Queensland coast late today or tomorrow.