| 25.12,11. 11:09 AM |
Darwin expected to escape direct hit from cyclone
DARWIN is under cyclone warning as a potential category two storm meanders off the coast.
Residents have been told to be indoors and safe by 6pm on Christmas Day.
The Bureau of Meteorology's regional director in Darwin, Dr Andrew Tupper, forecast a low over the Arafura Sea was still likely to become a tropical cyclone last night.
From there it was expected to move slowly move north of the coast for 18 to 24 hours, hitting the Coburg Peninsula northeast of Darwin on Christmas Day as a weak cyclone before heading south.
It would probably make landfall around Point Stuart, northeast of Darwin, on Boxing Day afternoon he said.
Dr Tupper said he expected the cyclone to be a Category 2 storm but it could become stronger than that.
A category two storm has winds between 154-177kmh.
He said a lot of trees would likely be knocked down and buildings could be damaged, particularly those not up to building code.
''It would certainly be very dangerous to drive in, very disruptive, and obviously be a threat to life,'' Dr Tupper said.
Heavy rain is expected to cause localised flooding.
Darwin is expected to be on the edge of the system, with wind gusts of 90kmh to 100kmh.
''Our concern for Darwin is about those gales at the edge of the system causing some reasonably wild conditions,'' Dr Tupper said.
NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson said people should not be unnecessarily worried by the storm but should ensure they were not travelling around the Top End after 6pm (CST) on Christmas Day.
''We don't want people travelling around in potentially gale-force winds, potentially damage with trees falling across roads, late into the evening tomorrow,'' Mr Henderson said.
NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts said police officers in all the areas likely to be affected have been meeting with counter-disaster committees and authorities were well prepared.
Mr McRoberts said a decision would be made early tomorrow on whether or not to take homeless people to a shelter.
He said people should not drink too much on Christmas Day.
''We are possibly going to experience gale-force winds,'' Mr McRoberts said.
''Falling trees, falling powerlines, mixed with alcohol is not a good mix,'' he said.
Today is the 37th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy, which destroyed much of Darwin in 1974, killing 49 people and a further 22 who perished at sea.