Cyclone Trevor is heading for the Northern Territory, after leaving a trail of destruction behind in north Queensland.
The now category one storm is offshore over the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria and is due to cross the gulf on Thursday or Friday.
But it’s then expected to intensify and could emerge as a dangerous category four cyclone when it crosses into the NT coast on Saturday, the Bureau of Meteorology said on Thursday.
“Very destructive winds, with gusts to 260km/h, heavy rainfall and a very dangerous storm tide are expected near the cyclone centre as it approaches and crosses the coast,” the bureau added.
Trevor has uprooted trees, caused schools and roads to close and caused power outages due to severe wind gusts and heavy rain since it made landfall in Queensland’s north earlier this week.
The cyclone is expected to hit the NT coast somewhere between Groote Eylandt and Borroloola. Residents of Groote Eylandt and Numbulwar are being told to evacuate, and other communities are being told to prepare to evacuate.
“The waters right through the Gulf of Carpentaria are going to be dangerous from Thursday, with gale-force winds and rough seas developing early on Thursday as the system re-intensifies,” the Bureau of Meteorology’s NT manager, Todd Smith, told the ABC.
The Anindilyakwa Land Council environmental officer Ross McDonald told the ABC that while cyclones were not uncommon in the area, he’d never seen Groote Eylandt evacuated.
“I’ve been here for 15 years and … we have a lot of cyclones … but this is definitely the one we’ve had the most concern about,” he told the ABC.
“And that being the case a lot of the properties aren’t built for category 4 cyclones.”
Trevor lashed the Aurukun community overnight and there were power outages on Thursday as residents began cleaning up.
Weather permitting, crews would fly in from Mareeba and Cairns to begin the restoration effort, Ergon Energy said.
The timing is uncertain, with gales still expected across western parts of Cape York Peninsula on Thursday morning between Cape York and Pormpuraaw.
That will include Aurukun and Weipa as the cyclone moves offshore and re-intensifies with possible gusts in excess of 130 km/h.
Heavy rain and a storm tide are also likely between Mapoon and Aurukun on Thursday morning.
On the east coast, crews restored power to the community of Coen on Wednesday night and have begun resupplying Lockhart River, where the electricity network damage was worse.
“We are down to 96 customers without power in Lockhart River from a peak of 150 customers, or the entire community,” Ergon says.
People are warned to beware flash flooding.