Cairns airport to shut down on Tuesday night as Australia faces Cyclone Jasper | Travel

Residents in Australia’s northeast on Tuesday braced for heavy rain and damaging winds from tropical cyclone Jasper, expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours, as authorities set up evacuation centres and deployed more emergency crews.

Cairns airport to shut down on Tuesday night as Australia braces for Cyclone Jasper (Photo by Twitter/RexAirlines)

Jasper, located about 250 kilometres (186 miles) off the far north coast of Queensland state in the Coral Sea, is forecast to intensify to a category 2 storm, packing wind gusts of up to 140 km per hour, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

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Heavy rain is forecast across a coastal area stretching more than 600 km, including the tourist town of Cairns, which has a population of about 150,000. Some places should receive up to 500 mm (20 inches) of rain in 24 hours with authorities warning of flash flooding there.

“Now is the time for Queenslanders in the far north of our state to get ready. To be prepared… To ensure that everything is in place as this weather event bears down,” said Steven Miles, who is set to become the next premier of the state.

Australia is under the influence of the El Nino phenomenon this summer, which can provoke extreme weather phenomena from wildfires to tropical cyclones and prolonged droughts.

Cairns airport said it would shut down Tuesday night with no domestic and international flights scheduled on Wednesday though the runway would remain open for emergency services.

Some supermarket shelves were stripped bare of essential items, including bottled water, media reported, as authorities urged people to stock up food and tie down loose outdoor equipment.

Residents should also watch out for storm tides in the sea, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Brad Commens said, where water surges above the highest tide levels when a cyclone approaches and swamp low-lying areas.

“Some of that flooding can come quite a way inland, so people who are on the eastern seaboard and in low-lying areas should make preparations to go and stay with friends now,” Commens told ABC television.

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