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Severe weather lingers as Cyclone Iris weakens

Ben Domensino, Wednesday April 4, 2018 - 13:45 EST

Tropical Cyclone Iris continues to cause heavy rain, gale force winds and large waves while slowly weakening off Queensland's central coast.

At 10am today, Iris was a category two tropical cyclone just under 200km to the northeast of Hamilton Island, with wind gusts estimated to be reaching 130km/h near its core.

Iris is close enough to Queensland to cause dangerous weather in areas of the Central Coast and Whitsundays that were pummelled by Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie just over one year ago. Thankfully, this run-in with a tropical cyclone is far less intense.

The highest observed wind gusts during the last 24 hours was 111km/h at Creal Reef on Tuesday night, which is located about 140km off the coast of Mackay. Hamilton Island registered a gust of 106km/h early on Wednesday morning, which is its strongest gust since Debbie.

Iris is also producing large waves along Queensland's central coast, although the Great Barrier Reef reef is preventing some of the ocean's energy from reaching the coast. During Wednesday morning, significant wave heights - or average wave heights - were reaching 2-2.5 metres near the coast at Hay Point, but up to four metres around 35km off the coast of Mackay.

It's worth noting that the wave monitoring buoy at Hay Point registered a maximum wave height of just over 6.5 metres late on Tuesday night. If this is a valid reading, it is one of the top three wave heights measured by this buoy, which has been in operation since 1993 according to the Queensland Government's Department of Environment and Science Website.

The heaviest rain during the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday was 103mm at Preston, to the west of Hamilton Island.

While Tropical Cyclone Iris was previously expected to strengthen into a severe tropical cyclone today, the system is now moving into a less favourable environment and has started weakening.

Iris is expected to move towards the southeast and weaken further during the next 24 hours, most likely dropping below tropical cyclone strength by Thursday night.

The remnants of Cyclone Iris may then turn towards the northwest from Thursday and approach the Queensland coast at the end of the week.

This path would maintain showers and blustery winds along parts of the state's central and northeast coasts into the weekend, so be sure to check the latest weather warnings and forecasts in the coming days if you live in these areas.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2018

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