Cyclone Jasper panic sees Woolworths and Coles shelves stripped bare

Warnings of damaging winds, potential floods and power outages have been issued as the cyclone heads towards land in north Queensland.

Supermarkets in north Queensland are being stripped bare as Tropical Cyclone Jasper approaches bringing wild weather, possible power outages, and water supply disruptions.

As of 4.30am on Monday, Jasper had weakened again to a category 1 system and was about 600km east of Cairns, and 530km northeast of Townsville but is expected to pick up during Tuesday and make landfall on Wednesday between Cape Flattery and Cardwell.

"Jasper is forecast to re-intensify during Tuesday as it approaches the coast," the Bureau of Meteorology said. The winds may extend as far north as Cape Melville, on the eastern coast of Cape York Peninsula, and as far south as Townsville, they have warned.

Coles told Yahoo News Australia it's "working hard" to keep its stores open and stocked. "We have been working to ensure we have extra supply of essentials such as water, rice, canned vegetables and toilet paper," a spokesperson said.

Screenshots of empty Woolworths bread and toilet paper shelves in Northern Queensland ahead of Cyclone Jasper.
Videos shows empty shelves at Woolworths ahead of Cyclone Jasper. Source: TikTok

Shelves empty as people 'panic buy' ahead of Cyclone Jasper

Videos of empty supermarket shelves in places like Cairns and Townsville are popping up across social media platforms, looking eerily similar to the state of shelves during the pandemic.

Some Aussies have shared just how frustrating it is for them to see locals panic buying things like bread and toilet paper, leaving the rest without. Batteries, torches and bottled water have also been popular purchases. "This sh*ts me to tears," one Cairns resident said online alongside a video of the empty bread shelves at a Woolworths store. "Why do you do this every time?"

Coles shared that it has "comprehensive contingency plans in place" to make sure it has a "sufficient supply of essential supplies for the community".

"We have power generators being put into place as contingencies. We will keep the community updated if there are any major changes to trading hours or availability," the spokesperson said.

Residents are clearly bracing as Cyclone Jasper edges closer to North Queensland. Source: Nine News
Residents are clearly bracing as Cyclone Jasper edges closer to North Queensland. Source: Nine News

Experts warn of dangerous conditions ahead

Panic buying has picked up as Cyclone Jasper inches closer to land. Heavy rainfall is expected to develop along the east coast in north Queensland from late Tuesday, and flooding is possible for the north tropical coast, parts of the Cape York Peninsula and Gulf Country from Wednesday, the bureau has advised.

A severe weather warning for damaging winds is in place for Monday in parts of the Herbert, lower Burdekin, central coast and Whitsundays districts, with the bureau predicting gusts of up to 90km/h in some areas.

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The Bureau of Meteorology's Tropical Cyclone Jasper forecast track map.
The Bureau of Meteorology's Tropical Cyclone Jasper forecast track map showing its best estimate of the cyclone's future movement and intensity. Source: BoM

On Sunday, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) warned residents between Cape Melville and Townsville strong winds could knock down trees and powerlines, lift roofs off houses and blow away anything not tied down. Cyclone Jasper could also cause phone and internet outages, along with water supplies, QFES warned.

Before announcing her shock retirement from politics on Sunday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had been briefed on the cyclone. "It is expected to make land on Wednesday and can I just remind Queenslanders and especially north Queensland to take care."

with AAP

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