Cyclone Jasper hits Australia: What you need to know

The intensifying category 2 tropical cyclone is expected to make contact with land late on Wednesday.

Tropical Cyclone Jasper is expected to hit land within hours, bringing with it intense rain, strong winds and potential for major damage. Winds up to 140km/h are expected to lash the Far North Queensland areas of Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown on Wednesday afternoon or in the early evening.

The storm was upgraded to category 2 on Wednesday before it made contact with land. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned Cyclone Jasper could be a “life-threatening deluge” and should not be underestimated.

  • Queensland residents have been told to prepare for flash flooding and potentially days without power, with evacuation centres established in Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown.

  • A tropical cyclone warning is in place for Cape Melville to Cardwell, including Cairns and Innisfail and extending inland to include the Atherton Tablelands, Chillagoe and Palmerville.

  • The cyclone is currently moving west at 7km/h.

  • More than 100 emergency personnel have been deployed out of Brisbane to boost local crews on the ground.

  • While it’s unknown exactly where Cyclone Jasper will hit, the city of Cairns's 160,000 residents are preparing for what could be its first direct hit in more than 60 years.

Images of the cyclone weather system about to hit land.
Cyclone Jasper is due to hit land late on Wednesday. Source: WeatherZone

🗣️ What they said

BOM Meteorologist Miriam Bradbury: "Winds of this strength can easily bring down tree limbs, whole trees or power lines, damaging fences, roofs and other properties."

Cairns Mayor Terry James said: “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a direct hit in the Cairns area. So complacency is a massive problem, we see that all the time.”

Read more: Desperate warning as threat approaches

🤔 Why should I care

Cyclone Jasper has caused travel chaos in the region, with airports closed and holidaymakers asked to decamp until the storm is over. Cairns airport, the hub for air transport in the region has closed ahead of the cyclone’s landfall. Domestic and international flights would be suspended.

To those looking to escape the deluge, airport bosses told locals: “Please do not come out to the airport,” explaining that services will resume when it is safe. CEO Richard Baker has warned the airport will not be available until at least Thursday. Qantas and Jetstar said impacted passengers have been contacted.

Meanwhile, holidaymakers camping and caravaning within a 1200km exclusion area which includes the Daintree Rainforest and Hamilton Island have been advised to pack up.

Read more: Cyclone Jasper panic sees Woolworths and Coles shelves stripped bare

💬 Conversation starter

In the upmarket tourist town of Port Douglas, which is expected to be in the firing line, eerie images shared online show a usually bustling marina empty of boats.

In two days, boat owners quickly moved their vessels to nearby estuaries and creeks in the hope of staying away from the destruction hitting the coast.

“What an amazing effort to move so many boats up the creek, and hopefully out of harm's way,” said local dive instructor Lachlan.

This time of year is usually busy for the holiday destination, but the streets are deserted, bar a few locals and tourists doing last-minute preparations.

Side by side images of Port Douglas Marina taken two days apart. One busy and one empty.
Normally bustling Port Douglas Marina has been emptied ahead of the cyclone with boats taking shelter in nearby calmer waters. Source: Facebook

❗ It’s hard to believe, but…

Many locals have been advised to tie down outdoor furniture, gas bottles, toys and play equipment so that it doesn’t cause a hazard as winds pick up. According to Tablelands Regional Council advice, it can also be thrown into the pool.

In Port Douglas town centre, even the Christmas tree has been removed so it doesn't become a projectile.

⏭️ So what next?

With Cairns and Townsville local authorities issuing preemptive disaster declarations, residents will wait with bated breath to see what damage the cyclone unfolds in the region.

As the window for preparation draws to a close, residents are urged to find the strongest and safest room to take shelter in without windows — like a walk-in robe, bathroom or hallway.

In 2011, category 5 Cyclone Yasi destroyed dozens of homes, ripped off roofs and walls and cut power supplies to two cities as well as destroying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of banana and sugar cane crops. One person was killed in the north Queensland storm.

Read more: Cyclone Jasper set to bring heavy rain, strong winds for Australia's northeast

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