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Largest evacuation in years as Cyclone Trevor heads towards Gulf

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 21/03/2019 Rosanna Kingsun


A state of emergency has been declared in the Gulf of Carpentaria as the largest ever evacuation before a cyclone takes place in the Northern Territory.

Cyclone Trevor is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 on Saturday with authorities warning conditions are already deteriorating fast.

Speaking at a press conference this morning NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner warned this was an extremely dangerous system.

9News reporter Shannon Marshall-McCormack is in Cooktown. 9News reporter Shannon Marshall-McCormack is in Cooktown.

Evacuations have already been taking place amid warnings a dangerous storm surge is threatening communities across the Gulf.

The Chief Minister urged people to take warnings seriously, not just because it was a cyclonic event but also due to the dangerous storm surge it is expected to bring.

https://twitter.com/rosannakingsun/status/1108519774730874880?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfwhttps://twitter.com/BOM_Qld/status/1108518626267668482?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The evacuations taking place are one of the biggest since Cyclone Tracy hit the Territory in 1974.

a close up of a logo: Northern Australia is now being battered by two cyclones, Veronica off Western Australia and Trevor off Northern Queensland. © Supplied Northern Australia is now being battered by two cyclones, Veronica off Western Australia and Trevor off Northern Queensland. Almost 1000 residents have already been evacuated from Groote Eylandt and Numbulwar with more people being moved out of Borroloola and other communities all the way along the Gulf of Carpentaria coast to Queensland.

"As Cyclone Trevor tracks across the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting that the cyclone will make landfall between Borroloola and Groote Eylandt during Saturday as a category four severe tropical cyclone," Mr Gunner said.

a group of people walking on a beach: Hundreds of people have already been evacuated as Trevor heads towards the Gulf. © 9news Hundreds of people have already been evacuated as Trevor heads towards the Gulf. https://twitter.com/kathleengazzola/status/1108527441784430593?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Mr Gunner said the severity of the storm, the significant threat it poses, as well as the complications that come with the remoteness of the area, led to the decision to start evacuations.

Authorities have warned Trevor could bring wind gusts in excess of 200-300km/h as well as massive rainfalls.

a man posing for the camera: A state of emergency has been declared in the Gulf of Carpentaria as the largest ever cyclone evacuations take place in the Northern Territory. A state of emergency has been declared in the Gulf of Carpentaria as the largest ever cyclone evacuations take place in the Northern Territory. https://twitter.com/BOM_NT/status/1108577392589705217?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The last Category 4 system to hit the Top End was cyclone was Cyclone Lam in 2015, however authorities warn this system is much larger.

Trevor is one of two cyclones battering northern Australia with three states in the firing line of the storms’ fury.

a group of people sitting at a table in a room: Authorities are watching Trevor closely as the storm is set to unleash destructive fury. © 9news Authorities are watching Trevor closely as the storm is set to unleash destructive fury.

Cyclone Veronica, which is set to approach Western Australia’s Pilbara coast this weekend, intensified from a Category 1 to 4 overnight.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned the storm could have a severe impact along the northern WA coast in coming days

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The WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services also warned people to prepare for dangerous weather and today issued a blue alert.

The alert is current for people in or near communities between Mardie and Pardoo, including Port Hedland, South Hedland, Wickham, Roebourne, Point Samson, Karratha and Dampier in the Pilbara.

Meanwhile Trevor, which has smashed northern Queensland, is tracking to make landfall on Saturday between Port Roper and Port McAruthur as a Category 3 system.

https://twitter.com/BOM_NT/status/1108451408724934656?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The remote north Queensland community of Aurukun has already been lashed by rain and winds as Trevor passed over them on its way to the NT.

a group of palm trees next to a tree: A backyard in Lockhart River. © Nine A backyard in Lockhart River.

Residents are now preparing for its onslaught in the Territory, with hundreds of people in East Arnhem Land already evacuated.

The community of Numbalwar has been evacuated by road, while residents from Groote Eyland will be transported by air.

Trevor has uprooted trees, closed schools and roads, caused power outages with severe gusts and heavy rain since it made landfall in Queensland's north.

a sign on the side of a road: Little Annan River is not so little anymore and has cut off this road near Cooktown. © Nine Little Annan River is not so little anymore and has cut off this road near Cooktown.

NT Regional Controller Travis Wurst earlier said other communities may also need to be evacuated.

“We're asking everyone in that entire watch zone, from Groote Eyland down...to anticipate potential evacuation,” he said. 

“Prepare documents, medication, a small bag (and) personal belongings for that potential eventuality.”

a person walking down a dirt road: Tropical Cyclone Trevor has largely passed the Cape York Peninsula, but there's more rain to come. © Nine Tropical Cyclone Trevor has largely passed the Cape York Peninsula, but there's more rain to come. a tree in the middle of the street: Trees have felled power lines across the region. © Queensland Police Service Trees have felled power lines across the region.

Cyclone Trevor is forecast to become a large system with an eye around 30 kilometres wide, which is the same size as the entire system of Cyclone Marcus, which hit Darwin a year ago.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s NT Manager Todd Smith said a cyclone watch is in place for communities from Nhulunbuy to the NT/QLD border.  

“That’s due to the fact there is still some uncertainty about where exactly that system is going to cross the coast (as) cyclones in the Gulf are notoriously erratic,” he said. 

“But (it’s) also to do with the fact the system is very large and going to extend a long way from the centre.”

Mr Smith said a dangerous storm surge was expected, as well as heavy rain once the system crosses the NT coast and moves inland. 

“(We’re predicting rain in) the order of 100 to 200mm per day near the system's centre.

“There's also the potential for this system to track further inland towards the Barkly as we head into early next week.”

a tree in front of a house: The town faces a major clean up now the cyclone has passed. © Nine The town faces a major clean up now the cyclone has passed.

Gale force ends are expected as early this evening and residents are being urged not to go out on the water and to keep an eye on warnings. 

Trevor began ripping through the region late on Tueday as a category three storm, dumping 300mm of rain and recording wind gusts of more than 133km/h.

Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher said Trevor was the worst he had endured.

"It was ferocious - the wind was just constant between 4pm and midnight," he said.

"This was probably the worst one ... this one basically sat near the community and hounded us for hours.

"I've got a timber house and I could feel it shaking."

a house with a palm tree: Many trees came down in the storm, but thankfully there were few infrastructure losses. © Nine Many trees came down in the storm, but thankfully there were few infrastructure losses.

Lockhart River resident Hannah Brown posted on Facebook that they had spent the evening "getting absolutely smashed".

"We're okay at the Lockhart River aerodrome, lots of destruction after a horrid night," she wrote.

Cr Butcher said initial reports suggested no major infrastructure damage.

'We've got a few trees across houses and a few sheds have gone flying," he said.

- with AAP

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