Warnings cyclone could reach category 4
SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Trevor, packing 220km/h winds, may yet turn into a category 4 system as it spears towards Cape York Peninsula.
As of about 11am category three Cyclone Trevor, located about 85km east-southeast of the tiny former aboriginal mission of Lockhart River, was rapidly intensifying and was due to hit the coast about 5pm today.
It was moving at about 9km/h in a west-southwest direction.
Extra police and emergency crews have been deployed ahead of very destructive winds, a storm surge on top of abnormally high tides, and torrential rain and thunderstorms across much of the Cape.
A warning zone remains for Pormpuraaw to Mapoon and Orford Ness to Cape Melville, inculding Lockhart River. A cyclone watch zone is in place for Mapoon to Cape York.
Police saying the Lockhart River community will "go into lockdown" at 1pm.
Emergency services have urged residents in the warning areas to prepare their properties and evacuation plans before then, before it was too late, and to listen to updates on the situation.
"We seem to be just above the bullseye of the cyclone,'' Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher, in charge of a population of 800, told The Courier-Mail.
"But this is a big one.
"We're right in the firing line and we've got everyone as cyclone ready as we can be."
The Bureau of Meteorology said the cyclone will most likely cross as a high-end category 3 system south of Lockhart River, "but further intensification to category 4 cannot be ruled out".
Bruce Gunn from BoM said parts of Queensland north of Cairns could expect rainfalls of between 200mm and 400mm over the next few days.
Flooding and flash flooding is likely.
Destructive winds, storm tides and abnormally high tides are also expected.
Mr Gunn described Tropical Cyclone Trevor as having a "very destructive" core which was about 75km wide and had wind gusts of about 220km/h. The 11.08am update from the BoM said it had sustained winds near the centre of 150km/h and wind gusts to 205km/h.
"This makes it the high end of a category 3 system," he said.
Mr Gunn said the cyclone was a compact system and there was uncertainty surrounding it in terms of if it would intensify or change path.
Cyclone Trevor was expected to weaken as it crosses the northern Peninsula tonight and Wednesday, but may remain a category 1 cyclone until it enters the Gulf of Carpentaria later on Wednesday.
It is expected to reintensify "rapidly" in the Gulf, with the latest BoM tracking map expecting it to become a category 3 by Thursday.
Heavy rain and thunderstorm areas are in the immediate vicinity of Trevor while a separate band of shower and thunderstorms is affecting the northern Gulf of Carpentaria.
High level cloud is streaming further south from this system across the remainder of north Queensland with a torrential deluge as far south as Cairns overnight.
The Lockhart River area is not expected to experience inundation but Mr Gunn warned of coastal erosion and said there would be inundation in less populated areas further south.
"It is too soon to predict exactly how the system will progress, but models suggest the system may linger in the Gulf until the end of the week,'' the Bureau of Meteorology's Dr Richard Wardle said.
"This has the potential to be a protracted event.''
The Joint Typhoon Warning System (JTWS), run by the United States Navy, has forecast a system reaching 260km wind gusts, a strong category-four, near Mornington Island by Friday.
"Over Cape York (TC Trevor) will weaken considerably, but it will emerge over the very warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria,'' a JTWS bulletin said.
"At that point, the system is expected to rapidly intensify again, this time to 115 knots (213km/h), if not higher.''
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Katarina Carroll has urged safety first.
As the cyclone starts to impact communities tonight and tomorrow, she warned residents to stay indoors until the danger has passed.
"We have crews on the ground to help before the cyclone hits, and following the impact, as soon as it is safe," Ms Carroll said.
"If the building you're sheltering in begins to break up, immediately seek shelter under a strong table or bench or under a heavy mattress,'' she said.
Emergency kits should be stocked with essential supplies including food, water, warm clothes, medications, first aid supplies, important documents, valuables, a battery-powered or wind up radio and sleeping gear.
Schools across the far north are currently preparing for Cyclone Trevor with the Department of Education urging parents and children to be vigilant over the coming days.
The department said safety is the top priority and local state schools in the affected area are undertaking preparations for the severe weather event and are securing school facilities.
Parents have been advised to check in with their individual childcare centres and schools to find out about closures.
WHAT TO DO
QFES is urging people in the affected area to finalise their preparation for the cyclone.
To do this, you should:
■ Check your emergency kit and make sure it's stocked with essential items including food, water, dry clothes, medications, first aid supplies, important documents, valuables and a radio.
■ Get your property ready by securing large outdoor items like swing sets and trampolines.