PORT of Townsville closed on Thursday as Tropical Cyclone Kirrily approached the Queensland coast.

The port moved to condition red ahead of closure at 1000 on 25 January. At that stage, the port was finalising evacuation of staff and port users.

Port of Townsville general manager customer, operations and safety Drew Penny said on Thursday the port’s operational staff were expecting to return to the port on Friday mid-morning.

“Re-entry to the port will, of course, be determined by how the weather system unfolds overnight and human safety will be the primary consideration in getting the Port back up and running,” Mr Penny said.

“Once we have determined it is safe to do so, we expect a staged reopening of landside operations, followed by commercial shipping, under the direction of Maritime Safety Queensland.

“Throughout this week, our cyclone preparations have flowed very smoothly. The port team, our service providers and customers have done an excellent job to ensure we are well-placed to endure the heavy rains and strong winds expected.”

Kirrily has since crossed the coast and moved west, and the Maritime Safety Queensland dashboard on Friday afternoon (26 January) reported advice from Townsville’s regional harbour master that recovery was underway.

The MSQ notice warned that aids to navigation may be affected by the extreme weather and that “other dangers” may be present in waterways.

“VTS may conduct messaging about unusual currents, floating debris, subsurface obstruction, or unknown shoaling depths,” it said.

Kirrily is the second cyclone to affect Queensland ports in recent months. Cyclone Jasper caused ports to close in December last year.