Ex-Cyclone Iris U-turn fears

DISASTER officials are eyeing ex-Tropical Cyclone Iris with forecasts that it may do a U-turn, re-form into a category-two cyclone, and hit already-flood-swamped parts of Queensland over Easter.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the tropical low in the Coral Sea, northwest of New Caledonia, is predicted to stall today before swinging northwest towards the Queensland coast tomorrow.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, speaking in Cairns last night, said the monsoon low that officials were monitoring "could produce severe weather right down the Queensland coast."

Aftermath at the Big 4 Crystal Cascades Caravan Park at Redlynch, after heavy rain and flooding. Picture: Justin Brierty
Aftermath at the Big 4 Crystal Cascades Caravan Park at Redlynch, after heavy rain and flooding. Picture: Justin Brierty

"We are better off to be prepared than to face the consequences,'' she said.

Some forecasting weather models predict the system could re-intensify into a category-two cyclone, and possibly make landfall near Cairns by Easter Sunday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said ex-TC Iris had a "low" chance of redeveloping into a tropical cyclone over the next three days.

But authorities also warn the system may deliver more monster rainfall totals over the Easter weekend, of between 200m to 900mm of torrential rain, over flood-saturated catchments from Townsville to Cooktown.

Dozens of homes and scores of caravans and vehicles were damaged in a "devastating" rapid flash-flood event in Cairns early yesterday.

More than 180,000 people in the far north Queensland city and towns such as Innisfail, Mareeba and Port Douglas dealt with flooding chaos after rainfall totals of more than 500mm overnight.

Firefighters prepare to help people stranded by flash flooding in Cairns.
Firefighters prepare to help people stranded by flash flooding in Cairns.

Swift-water rescue crews plucked 42 people to safety from flash flooding at caravan parks at Redlynch and Brinsmead.

The Barron River is experiencing the biggest flood event since 2000 and peaked at 12.9m yesterday, splitting Cairns in two.

It is still under a major flood warning as floodwaters move downstream.

Many coastal hamlets were completely cut-off, with residents at Yorkeys Knob in the north reporting homes had been inundated to "boob-level."

Junior player Mia Christopher, 11, isnt too happy about the damage to her local tennis courts. Picture: Justin Brierty
Junior player Mia Christopher, 11, isnt too happy about the damage to her local tennis courts. Picture: Justin Brierty

Authorities warn of more mudslides, flash flooding, cut roads and rural towns facing isolation as the remnants of ex-tropical Cyclone Nora, which hit the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria on Saturday, head west.

But the potential cyclone looming off the Queensland coast may be the Easter bunny come early for surfers.

Surf watchers are predicting days of consistent bands of solid surf over the Easter weekend, ranging up to 1.8m, on exposed beaches, points and bays along the southern Queensland coast.



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