Qld Cyclone Owen downgraded to low system

The worst of the weather in north Queensland is over as ex-tropical Cyclone Owen moves to the east.The Owen cyclone system moving over Queensland’s north has been downgraded to a tropical low but severe weather and flood warnings remain in place.
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The system weakened as it tracked south-easterly across the far north after crossing near remote Kowanyama as a category 3 cyclone early on Saturday, bringing winds of 120km/h.

Owen was downgraded to a category 2 system later in the morning and revised down again to a tropical low by 4pm.

Residents in inland areas of the far north are still facing wind gusts up to 85km/h and heavy rainfall.

Kowanyama escaped the brunt of the storm when it crossed to their south in the southeast part of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

“Everything’s still intact. I’m pretty happy,” Kowanyama mayor Michael Yam told AAP.

“It was a bit scary when it was heading straight towards as a category 3, but everything’s back to normal. I thought we’d get a bit more rain out of it.

“But we’re always well prepared. My community takes it very seriously.”

The now ex-cyclone system was moving at 21km/h towards more populated areas and was expected to reach Ingham and Innisfail early on Sunday before running parallel down the east coast over the next 24-48 hours.

Potentially damaging winds and flash flooding, with possible falls of 100-200mm within a six-hour period, continue to pose a risk.

“Please do not be complacent, particularly in that northeast tropics area where the rains will continue,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services commissioner Katarina Carroll said.

“It’s a heavily saturated area from the past week or so, and there may be flash flooding.”

A severe weather warning was in place for the north tropical coast, tablelands, peninsula, northern goldfields and surrounding areas.

Residents were being warned to check with authorities before leaving shelters to “sight-see”, with the risk of hazards including fallen trees, power lines, debris and structural damage to infrastructure.

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