Cyclone Ita Remains Offshore Of Queensland

By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
April 13, 2014; 4:10 AM ET
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Tropical Cyclone Ita made landfall near Cape Flattery Queensland Friday evening local time.

Ita weakened rapidly before reaching land, but it still contained sustained winds of 90 to 105 mph at the time of landfall, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

As the center passed over Cape Flattery, a wind gust to 96 mph was measured. However, the instruments failed before the stronger northern eyewall passed over the station. Also, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology, a minimum pressure of 955mb was recorded.

Very heavy rain has been widespread across Queensland's northern Peninsula. Widespread rainfall over 4 inches has occurred in the past 48 hours. The highest total thus far is Bairds with 12.24 inches.

Cooktown has reported more than 125 mm (5 inches) so far with more heavy rainfall expected as Ita moves southward just inland from the coastline.

Image of Ita as it made landfall in Queensland, just north of Cooktown, on Friday. Image courtesy of NOAA

Ita made landfall with the equivalent strength of a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Australia, which uses a different intensity scale than the U.S., indicates Ita was a Category 5 cyclone shortly before landfall, but weakened to a Category 3 by landfall.

Ita is still a tropical cyclone as it remains offshore of eastern Australia. It is producing heavy rainfall across a wide area, and this will continue as it slowly moves offshore of Australia.

The stadium effect is present in the satellite picture, Thursday afternoon, when peak sustained winds were estimated at 250 kph, courtesy of NOAA

Ita made landfall in an area with a lower population than locations farther south. This region is known for mining and national parks.

Although Ita will continue to weaken as it pulls away from Cairns, due to land interaction, flooding rainfall and tropical storm-force wind are expected along the coast.

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Cooktown has already picked up 165 mm (6.49) inches as of Saturday afternoon, local time. Cairns has been soaked with 132 mm (5.20 inches) through early Sunday, local time.

By Monday the cyclone will be in a much weakened state as it moves farther southeast off the coast of Queensland with no further widespread damaging winds or flooding rainfall expected over land.

Meteorologists Dave Samuhel and Alan Reppert contributed to the content of this story.

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