Northern Australia braces for more floods

Cyclone Lua weakens in northwest but residents in northeast told to be prepared for gales and possible flash floods.

    There were no injuries and only minor damage reported so far, officials said [EPA]
    There were no injuries and only minor damage reported so far, officials said [EPA]

    Australia is bracing for a possible second cyclone in as many days with a tropical low intensifying off the northeast
    state of Queensland.

    Cyclone Lua, which was rated category four of five in severity, ripped into the nation's minerals-rich west coast on Saturday, bringing wild winds and heavy rains.

    Lua had dissipated to a category one storm by Sunday afternoon and was expected to drop below cyclone strength before nightfall according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

    But forecasters said a second cyclone was forming in Australia's northern Gulf of Carpentaria region, with the bureau warning residents to prepare for gales of up to 185 kph, heavy rain and possible flash flooding.

    'Absolutely horrific'

    "The low is expected to continue moving in a northwesterly direction over southern Gulf of Carpentaria waters today, where it may develop into a tropical cyclone on Monday," the bureau said.

    "There was half an hour there where you thought, 'Is this ever going to end? Is the roof going to lift? Is the wall going to cave in?'"

    - Janet Robb,
    Western Australian resident

    Authorities were gathering information to assess the damage from Saturday's storm. But emergency officials said the sparsely-populated region appeared to have escaped the worst.

    There were no injuries and only minor damage reported so far from the storm, officials said.

    "With the category four and with the winds that it had when it crossed the coast, we've been extremely lucky not to have sustained quite a bit of damage in some of those areas," said Lyn Bryant, spokesperson for the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA).

    Cyclones are common in northern and western Australia during the warmer months, with last year's Cyclone Yasi - the worst storm in a century - wreaking Aus $1bn ($1.1bn) in damage along the Great Barrier Reef coast.

    Western Australian residents told of their harrowing wait as Lua raged through the night, bringing 250 kph winds and drenching rains.

    "It was absolutely horrific," said Janet Robb, manager of the Pilbara Roadhouse that was directly in the cyclone's path.

    "There was half an hour there where you thought, 'Is this ever going to end? Is the roof going to lift? Is the wall going to cave in?," Robb told Fairfax newspapers.

    The Australian Weather Bureau earlier said that Lua was the most severe cyclone to hit the country since Cyclone Yasi devastated the Queensland state last year.

    SOURCE: AFP


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