Top End battens down as cyclone watch declared

NT cyclone watch mapPhoto:       A cyclone tracking map issued by the Bureau of Meteorology at 5pm on December 21, 2011.  (www.bom.gov.au)

The weather bureau has issued a cyclone watch alert for the Top End of the Northern Territory.

A watch was declared at 5pm (CST) for coastal areas stretching from Dundee Beach to Nhulunbuy, including the Tiwi Islands and Darwin.

The bureau says gale force winds could develop in the next 48 hours.

Senior Forecaster Andrew Tupper says a monsoon trough is developing about 300 kilometres north-north-east of Darwin in the Arafura Sea.

“It is virtually certain that that low is going to stay out over water,” he said.

“When it stays out over water, that is a very favourable environment for cyclone formation.

“What is not certain is where it will go after that.

“It is likely, very likely that a cyclone will form but we do not know if it will go west or east or south.”

Airport prepares

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory Airports group says it has a committee preparing to deal with passengers who may have their Christmas travel plans disrupted by the possible cyclone.

Darwin airport director of services Jim Parashos says if some flights have to be cancelled there are not a lot of free places on other planes.

He says many flights out of Darwin are already booked at 85 per cent capacity, but there is not a stampede to get out of the city.

The heavy bookings are mostly connected to Christmas travel.

“We will work with our airline customers as the weather develops to assess what we will do going forward,” he said.

“There are not many seats available, so it is not that straightforward.

“I think most of the locals have been through this before, so I think they will take a wait-and-see approach.”

Be ready

The weather bureau says it is trying to better prepare people for a possible cyclone than they were for Cyclone Carlos in February.

Cyclone Carlos quickly formed over Darwin and there was confusion among many government workers about whether they should immediately go home or stay at work.

In the ensuing storm, more than 400 millimetres of rain fell on the city overnight and houses were flooded.

Trees and powerlines were brought down and emergency services crews received more than 2,000 calls for help.

Forecaster Angeline Prasad says people should be taking precautions well in advance of the threatening weather this time.

“We are trying not to have a repeat of the Carlos situation, which is why we have let the public know quite early on that there is potential for a cyclone by the end of the week,” she said.

NT Emergency Services director Peter Davies says people in the Top End should not wait for a cyclone watch to be declared to get prepared.

“If a cyclone watch is declared, the stores empty,” he said.

“So if you haven’t got your three days’ worth of stuff to look after yourself in a cyclone then you really need to go and get it now.”

Jane Bardon and Myles Morgan

ABC News

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About pagan66

I am Pagan, a Witch, a Healer, Mystic & Dreamer. I live in Service to the One. I will Protect & Respect Her bounties to my last breath. I am a Seeker of Truth, a Reformer, A Historian - an Advocate for Religious Freedom, Tolerance & Human Rights. I am a Protector of Animals & Children & those less fortunate than myself. I am a Reader & a Writer - an Artist. I am a Drummer, Gardener & Cook. I listen to the Wisdom of the Ancients. If you take a copy of the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind and the rain." Herbalist Carol McGrath as told to her by a Native-American woman. "When one defines oneself as Pagan, it means she or he follows an earth or nature religion, one that sees the divine manifest in all creation. The cycles of nature are our holy days, the earth is our temple, its plants and creatures our partners and teachers. We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation." Edain McCoy View all posts by pagan66

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