PORT of Townsville and Ports North are preparing for wild weather as Tropical Cyclone Jasper approaches the Queensland coast.
The cyclone was tracking westward toward the coast as a category 1 system on the afternoon of Monday 11 December; the Bureau of Meteorology warned there could be abnormally high tides and large waves along the coast.
Port of Townsville suspended channel widening operations due to unfavourable sea conditions.
The port was still operational on Monday afternoon and there had been no disruptions to shipping activities at that stage, but it cautioned that high winds may impact shipping movements over the following 24 hours.
And Ports North on Monday said the regional harbour master had announced an Orange Alert for the ports of Cape Flattery, Cooktown, Cairns and Mourilyan.
“Destructive winds, swell, rain or flooding is forecast within 12 to 24 hours,” Ports North said in a cyclone update.
“All port users are encouraged to review safety plans, secure vessels where it is safe to access and if it is safe to access, relocate your vessel to a more suitable area.”
Port of Townsville moved into its Condition Yellow on Monday, a notice outlining actions at the port as the cyclone risk intensifies.
Cyclone preparations at the Port of Townsville on Monday included minimising cargo heights on berths and laydown areas and removing equipment from tidal surge or flood prone areas.
The port was also implementing tie-down plans for cranes and shiploaders, securing buildings and clearing debris and continuing monitoring and consultation with port users.
Port of Townsville general manager of customer, operations and safety Drew Penny said the port was well prepared for wild weather should it eventuate over the coming days.
“The Port of Townsville begins its cyclone preparedness on 1 November each year and has a well-defined plan for moving through the various stages of cyclone preparedness,” Mr Penny said.
“We are continuing to implement precautionary measures in-line with advice from the Bureau of Meteorology and are working closely with Maritime Safety Queensland and port users to ensure proper preparedness as we move to Condition Yellow.”
Port of Townsville said it continues to follow advice from BOM, Townsville Local Disaster Management Group and the regional harbour master.
BOM expected the cyclone to cross the coast as a category 2 system on Wednesday, most likely between Cape Flattery and Cardwell.
“If the system is slower and crosses overnight Wednesday or Thursday, there’s a slight chance of it becoming a category 3 severe tropical cyclone when it crosses the coast,” a BOM spokesperson told DCN.
They said damaging winds with gusts of more than 90 kilometres per hour are expected to develop along the Queensland coast between Cooktown and Townsville, including Cairns, from Tuesday.
“Damaging winds may extend as far north as Cape Melville on Wednesday, depending on the movement of Jasper.
“As the cyclone approaches the coast, a storm tide is expected between Cooktown and Townsville, which may be close to or slightly over the highest astronomical tide level.
“Large waves may produce minor flooding along the foreshore.”
BOM’s spokesperson noted a separate severe weather warning was current on Monday afternoon for damaging winds for the coast between Ayr and Mackay, along the outer edge of Jasper.