Cooktown spared as Cyclone Nathan hits

‘It's a wet old patrol as ‪#TCNathan continues to dump rain on ‪@CookShire,’ reports the Queensland Police Service Media Unit.

‘It’s a wet old patrol as ‪#TCNathan continues to dump rain on ‪@CookShire,’ reports the Queensland Police Service Media Unit.

Cooktown [AAP]

Early indications suggest the far north Queensland town of Cooktown has been spared major damage from category four Cyclone Nathan.

Nathan made landfall north of Cape Flattery at about 4am, about 100 kilometres north of Cooktown.

It was a category four when it hit the coast, but has since been downgraded to a category three as it tracks west, dumping heavy rain as it goes.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects Nathan to quickly lose strength and that it will be classified as a tropical low later on Friday.

At 6am, Nathan was 80 kilometres west-northwest of Cape Flattery and 110 kilometres northwest of Cooktown, and had sustained winds near the centre of 155km/h, gusting to 220km/h.

So far authorities have had only a few reports of relatively minor damage, including minor structural damage and trees down. There are also reports banana crops in the Cooktown area have been hit.

State Emergency Service assistant commissioner Peter Jeffrey said Nathan took a slight turn to the north just before it hit the coast, meaning it missed Cooktown and the nearby indigenous community of Hopevale.

‘I think we’ve been fortunate in that it’s gone in and affected more remote areas,’ he told the ABC.

But residents have been warned the danger isn’t over yet, with the possibility of localised flooding from the cyclone’s storm surge and heavy rain.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has tweeted that there have been no critical issues associated with the cyclone and reporters in Cooktown are citing little visible damage.

Wind gusts in Cooktown only reached about 85km/h.

AAP has sought comment from the Cook Shire and Hopevale mayors.

Mr Jeffrey later said Nathan was expected to be a category one cyclone or a tropical low by 5pm (AEST).

‘The cyclone is diminishing as it is over land. That is good news,’ he told the Nine Network.

‘The rain is now setting in and so we shift from a focus on the damage from high winds to the risk from potential flooding in low-lying areas.’

The cyclone has produced a storm surge, and any flooding risk will be greatest at 9am, when tide peaks.

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