Weather News

Townsville airport closes, but Tropical Cyclone Kimi weakens, is unlikely to cross coast

Tuesday January 19, 2021 - 06:00 EDT
ABC licensed image
Tropical Cyclone Kimi is now category two and is tracking south. - ABC licensed

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says it is now unlikely weakening Tropical Cyclone Kimi will significantly impact the north Queensland coast.

The cyclone intensified to a category two on Monday, but as it continued to move south off the coast between Hinchinbrook Island and Townsville, the storm was downgraded to a category one system late in the evening.

At about 11:00pm on Monday, the BOM's advice showed the cyclone had "displayed a weakening trend over the past few hours, and it is expected to weaken further during Tuesday".

"In the longer term, the remnants of the system are expected to begin tracking back towards the north-north-west as a weak tropical low," the site read.

"Destructive winds are no longer expected about coastal and island areas."

However, heavy rainfall with the potential to produce flash flooding and major river flooding may affect coastal areas between Innisfail and Bowen on Tuesday.

A flood warning was current for the affected areas.

Earlier, an emergency alert was issued for Palm Island residents, with the cyclone expected to pass near the community.

Townsville airport announced it would close from 10:00pm Monday as a result of the weather warnings.

Early morning flights will be impacted.

The latest advice showed, despite its movement being erratic, Kimi was unlikely to cross the coast.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Laura Boekel said earlier on Monday the expectation was for the system to start to weaken.

"The latest guide no longer has Kimi crossing the coast, but it does have it meandering in the ocean, weakening as it moves south and looping back and continuing to weaken as it moves north up the coast as a low pressure system," she said.

The BOM has cancelled its warning between Port Douglas and Innisfail, including Cairns as the cyclone moves south.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said SES and police have been sent to the region, along with two winch-helicopters ? one based in Cairns, and another in Townsville ? ready to be deployed if at all required.

"So now's the time to put away any loose items and make sure you have your cyclone preparation kits," she said.

She also encouraged locals to keep listening to emergency service warnings and keep the number for the State Emergency Service handy: 132 500.

There are moderate flood warnings in place for coastal catchments between Cairns and Ayr.

Assistant District Officer Mark Lingwood said emergency services were deploying staff to the regions, with strong gales and heavy rainfall still predicted for the region.

"QPS are pre-deploying officers from the Cairns area down to the Tully and Cardwell area and also bringing police officers up to the Ingham area," he said.

"We're already sodden from ex-Tropical Cyclone Imogen, so it won't take long for the creeks, gutters, causeways to fill with water."

He urged people not to travel if possible, and to check road closures if they do need to leave their homes.

'Damaging to the soul': Farmers brace for Kimi

Banana grower Dianne Sciacca said she already experienced flash flooding on her farm near Innisfail this year and was extremely anxious about Tropical Cyclone Kimi.

"We only need 70kph winds and we've lost our crop for the next 18 months, and the damage that that does to the farm, the [crop] stool." she said.

"It's just damaging to the soul and to the finances.

"Who's going to want to work in the conditions that are going to come if we get a cyclone?

"We don't want that, and we don't want it for our staff and our employees."

Ms Sciacca said they had only just finished paying off their debt from the last cyclone in 2011.

"You never forget, and you never forget the feelings? they stay with you forever."


© ABC 2021

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