CYCLONE SEASON: Four cyclones are expected to hit Queensland or just off the coast by April.
CYCLONE SEASON: Four cyclones are expected to hit Queensland or just off the coast by April.

Gladstone expected to avoid heavy rain from cyclone for now

GLADSTONE is expected to dodge any fallout from Tropical Cyclone Ita, which is heading towards the North Queensland coast.

The Rockhampton Bureau of Meteorology expects Cyclone Ita to cause issues for north and far north Queensland at this stage.

A BOM spokesman said the next few days would be crucial for forecasters.

They predict Cyclone Ita may reach landfall on Thursday or Friday.

It may cause issues for regions north of Cairns, and at worst may cause shower activity for central Queensland at the weekend.

"It will probably degenerate rapidly after hitting landfall but the next few days will clarify further," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said BOM was not expecting Ita to reach Category 4 before it hit near Cape Melville, but said there may be some onshore moisture associated with the mass moving across the Coral Sea.

"We probably won't get too much here (central Queensland)," he said.

One model predicts the path of the cyclone, tipped to be the strongest since Yasi, could extend as far south as the Whitsundays.

The Whitsundays and Mackay are likely to experience some effects, including rain, from the cyclone still building out to sea.

The weather bureau has been tracking Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita's path towards Papa New Guinea and northern Queensland since the start of the week.

On Wednesday night residents in low-lying areas between Cape Grenville to the northern edge of Cairns were being warned to prepare to evacuate.

With winds building to 240km/h, the storm is expected to continue to develop off the coast between the Cape and the holiday town of Port Douglas on Thursday.

Premier Campbell Newman has cut short his Asian trade mission and will return to Queensland on Thursday as the state prepares for the cyclone.



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