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Tropical Cyclone Nora: BOM issues warning as storm approaches Gulf of Carpentaria

By Emily JB Smith and ABC staff, Saturday March 24, 2018 - 01:08 EDT
ABC licensed image
The cyclone could become a category four system by Saturday. - ABC licensed

Tropical Cyclone Nora is passing by north-east Arnhem land, before moving to the Cape York Peninsula and intensifying over the weekend.

While the storm will not hit the NT coast directly, gales are expected in NT communities from Elcho Island to Cape Shield, including Nhulunbuy, from 3:00pm and into the evening.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning for the region Friday morning, as well as Queensland communities from Pompuraaw to Thursday Island including Weipa.

A watch zone is in place from the NT and Queensland border to Pompuraaw.


It intensified to a category three system on Friday night, and was forecast to become a category four, on Saturday.

It is the second cyclone to impact Territorians in a week, after .

Cyclone to 'intensify rapidly'

Tropical Cyclone Nora is likely to impact NT residents most heavily on Friday afternoon, with gales expected in Nhulunbuy from 3:00pm and into the evening.

During a press conference on Friday afternoon, Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Todd Smith said conditions should ease in the north-east Arhmen land communities from Saturday.

"This afternoon is the main period of threat for the NT coastline around that Gove area," Mr Smith said.

"Conditions should start to ease from tomorrow."

However, he urged residents not to get complacent, as cyclone tracks in the Gulf of Carpentaria were notoriously difficult to predict.

During the past 24 hours he said it had "rapidly intensified".

"As the system moves into those warm waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria, we're expecting it to continue to intensify, so possibly reaching severe cyclone category three by tomorrow morning," Mr Smith said.

The Bureau of Meteorology's online track map showed the cyclone reaching category four at sea, before easing back to a category three system.

Regional controller Craig Laidler said no residents in the warning zone had been evacuated, as they were used to hunkering down for storms.

NT Emergency Service chief officer Jason Collins urged those in the watch zone to prepare for gales and heavy rain, finalise home preparations, and check on family and friends.

As conditions worsen residents should shelter indoors and avoid travel.

Those in the watch zone should check their homes for loose material and tie down or fill with water all large, relatively light items such as boats and rubbish bins.

They should also fill vehicle fuel tanks and jerry cans with fuel, prepare emergency kits and ensure they have at least three litres of drinking water per person stored, he said

Further warnings will be issued across the day.

By Sunday the cyclone is likely to be over the southern Gulf of Carpentaria.

A coastal crossing anywhere along the western Cape York Peninsula south of Weipa during Saturday or Sunday is possible.

Nhulunbuy 'well-prepared'

While it is unlikely Nhulunbuy will suffer a direct hit, its residents are likely to feel the impacts of Cyclone Nora.

Nhulunbuy residents told ABC News the region was prepared for a cyclone, as heavy wind and strong falls began lashing the region on Friday.

Many businesses shut down Friday morning.

Nearby communities and outstations were warned about the deteriorating weather, and were believed to be well-prepared.

Mr Collins said emergency services had gone door-to-door to ensure everyone was aware of the coming storm.

He also advised tourists and anglers to cancel travel plans to the area.

A community management plan is now in place across Arnhem land and emergency shelters ready to house those who cannot stay in their homes.

Residents begin sixth day without power

Meanwhile, more Darwin households are without power today than on Thursday - hit the region 1,800 households remain disconnected.

But Power and Water's Malcolm Conway said it was difficult to tell when power would be completely restored, given the infrastructure damage across the region.

"We had 29 crews on the ground the other day. They've got a mixture of not only our crews but crews come from Alice and Katherine, and we've got contractor crews out as well," he said.

"[Timing] depends on how much damage we continue to locate while we're up close and personal with the appropriate infrastructure."

The Electrical Trades Union said Power and Water had vacancies in half a dozen line-crew positions that if filled would have made the restoration process faster.

"That's two trucks that could have been on the road for the past week," an ETU spokesperson said.

But Mr Conway said there was no more vacancies than you would expect in any business and maintained they had "adequately resourced the event".

Further compensation may be offered

Infrastructure Minister Nicole Manison said the Government was considering further compensation for families significantly affected by Cyclone Marcus.

"We are looking at those people who are currently still without power about what extra support we can give them, so that's something we are currently considering," she said.

She said the Government would "definitely be considering" building more resilience into its power network through underground power in the future, but ruled out halting construction on a planned $30 million underground car park to fund it.

More than 3,600 people have applied for the Federal Government's relief payments of $250, available for residents who lost power for more than 72 hours.

But many residents reported long wait times and that some centres had run out of forms.

Families and Regional Services manager Brent Warren said it struggled to keep up with the demand for applications for relief payments on the first day they were offered, but now they had put measures in place to ensure they met demand.

Five pop-up centres were set up for people to apply for the payments.

"We've basically had couriers running boxes and boxes of these forms out to the centres over the last couple of days to make sure that we're keeping ahead of the public load," Mr Warren said.

"One of the things we're starting to trial now is to do some pop-up centres at places that have need. So we'll be sending some stuff out to the Dundee Beach area today."

On Thursday afternoon, the Territory Insurance Office had logged 1,200 claims.


© ABC 2018

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