'Unpredictable' Kimi weakens, but locals not off the hook
Ex-Tropical Cyclone Kimi has weakened to a tropical low without making landfall in North Queensland, but there remains the chance intense weather could still affect the region.
Staying true to its unpredictable nature, the cyclone, which had developed into a category 2 system during Monday and was heading for the coast near Lucinda turned southeast before weakening to a tropical low 135km northeast of Townsville about 4am.
It's now expected to move northwest and remain offshore, hugging the coastline to Cairns and Port Douglas beyond.
A cyclone warning or Innisfail to Ayr has been cancelled, however significant impacts on the coast are becoming less likely, but intensive weather is still expected to hit.
Residents in areas between Innisfail and Ayr, including Lucinda, Palm Island and Townsville, have been warned to prepare property to be lashed by the storm.
Sustained winds near the centre of the cyclone were recorded at 75 kilometres per hour with wind gusts to 100 kilometres per hour.
Specialist rescue crews had last night been deployed around north Queensland amid fears recent rainfall will worsen the flood risk of the "unusually unpredictable"cyclone.
The bureau also issued a flood watch for catchments between Innisfail to Bowen for yesterday and today, with authorities fearing recent rainfall would worsen the flood risk associated with the cyclone.
On Monday afternoon Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan said the "unusually unpredictable" cyclone was changing tack "every three hours or so".
Mr Ryan said that because many affected catchments were already saturated, the risk of riverine flooding and localised flash flooding from the cyclone was increased.
Specialised swiftwater rescue crews have been deployed across north Queensland with affected councils offering sandbags to residents.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said SES, police and two winch helicopters were also on standby.
The Bureau of Meteorology was last night expecting Kimi to remain offshore "meandering in the ocean" near Townsville before weakening and moving north up the coast as a tropical low.
However forecaster Laura Boekel said that because there was so much uncertainty, it remained possible Kimi could cross the coast as a category 2 cyclone.
The bureau yesterday warned the cyclone would bring destructive winds up to 150km/h, gales with gusts up to 120km/h, heavy rainfall of up to 300mm, flash flooding and abnormally high tides.
Cassowary Coast Division 1 councillor Barry Barnes said his greatest concern was flooding of the region's rivers.
"We've never had them so full before we've had a bit of a low. But our main ones are the Tully and Hull (Rivers), and they're already sitting at about 75, 80 per cent full," he said.
"The ground is very saturated and my other concern is the banana farms, a bit of wind will knock those trees over."
Panic-buyers had stripped shopping centres, including Hermit Park Woolworths where toilet paper shelves were stripped bare.
Further north in Ingham, frantic customers had bought almost every loaf of bread from Woolworths, while in Cardwell the local IGA was swamped by last-minute preppers stocking up on canned food, tissues and long life items.
Queensland Rail closed its Kuranda Range line yesterday, while a number of flights out of Cairns airport were cancelled or rescheduled as a precaution to the cyclone. Townsville Airport was closed from 10pm.
Originally published as North braced for flooding from erratic Cyclone Kimi