Maritime services provider Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) Australia has issued a port alert of a possible strike from severe tropical Cyclone Ita, category 5, which is moving at wind speeds of 300km/h near the centre and gales extending out to 200km/h.
Cyclone Ita is currently moving in the south-south-west direction and is expected to reach land between Cape Melville and Cooktown on the night of 11 April.
According to ISS estimates, winds exceeding 125km/h may develop between Cape Melville and Cooktown and could extend further south to Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas by night.
Similarly, gales may extend south to Cairns and Innisfail and inland to Chillagoe, and could move to Cardwell by 12 April.
The Cape Flattery, Cooktown and Port Douglas ports have already been closed and restricted movements have been imposed on Cairns, Mourilyan and Townsville ports.
Other ports in the cyclone are Thursday Island, Weipa, Karumba, Abbot Point, Mackay, Hay Point/DBCT and Gladstone. They are currently open and will be monitored, accordingly.
ISS expects the sea to rise above normal levels with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas; local people have been encourgaed to immediately evacuate the area.
Meanwhile, ISS has also urged coastal residents between Cape Tribulation and Innisfail, including Cairns, to be vigilant and monitor the situation closely as the cyclone may take a more southernly track than expected.
Cyclone Ita is expected to generate very heavy rain in parts of the Peninsula and North Tropical Coast and Tablelands districts, which could extend into the weekend.
Image: Tropical Cyclone Ita’s forecasted track map. Photo: courtesy of Commonwealth of Australia 2014, Bureau of Meteorology.