Cyclone Jasper makes landing in Australia

  • PALM COVE: Tropical Cyclone Jasper hit northeast Australia on Wednesday (Dec 13), leaving thousands of people in coastal communities without power and preparing for possibly “life-threatening” floods.
  • The Category Two storm barrelled in off the Coral Sea, making landing at around 5pm on Wednesday (0700 GMT), government meteorologists said.
  • Damaging winds of up to 113 kmh were recorded as Jasper hit the coast, while meteorologists said pummelling rains could swamp some areas with flash floods.
  • Rough surf, strong winds and heavy rain pelted the seaside town of Palm Cove, where usually busy restaurants and high-end hotels battened down the hatches and waited for the storm to pass.
  • Uprooted vegetation littered the town’s coastal walkway and rows of coconut palms and melaleuca trees bowed under the strain of Jasper’s gusts.
  • “It’s over the next few hours that we are expecting to see that heavy rainfall really picking up,” government scientist Miriam Bradbury said Wednesday afternoon as the storm loomed at sea.
  • “As the tropical cyclone nears the coast, that’s when we are going to see the most dangerous and most impactful weather developing.”
  • The cyclone “slowly” made landfall near the largely Aboriginal village of Wujal Wujal, the Bureau of Meteorology said, whipping up “destructive wind gusts”.
  • The tourist towns of Cairns and Port Douglas – both gateways to the Great Barrier Reef – were also in the path of the storm.
  • Deputy Premier Steven Miles had warned that “dangerous and life-threatening” floods could stay for “days to come”.
  • About 15,000 homes were left without power as winds picked up Wednesday afternoon, utility companies and the Queensland state government said.
  • Authorities are warning of damage to fences, roofs and other property – and had urged residents to tie down loose items before the storm came.
  • Flood watches are in place for rivers across the region and power has preemptively been cut to areas where damage is expected.
  • Four government weather forecasters had to be plucked from a remote offshore tracking station as Tropical Cyclone Jasper intensified late last week.
  • An Australian naval destroyer was ordered to evacuate the meteorologists from Willis Island, which lies about 450km east of the Australian mainland.
  • The analysts were dropped off in Sydney by the HMAS Brisbane guided-missile destroyer on Tuesday.
  • “Waiting out Severe Tropical Cyclone Jasper on Willis Island was not something we wanted to take a chance on,” forecaster William Tom said on Wednesday

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