Cyclone season reaches a head in NT and Qld

Two tropical cyclones are currently working their way across northern Australian coastlines.

Cyclone Marcia was due to hit the Queensland coast at 10am this morning, and weather pundits said Yeppon would be hit first and hardest.

The path of the cyclone was predicted to pass through Gladstone, where cyclone preparations have already affected a number of operations, not least of which being the gas processing construction projects on Curtis Island.

Winds will reach speeds above 200km/h and gust up to 285km/h.

UPDATE: Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers told Australian Mining the cyclone struck north of Yeppoon, at Shoalwater Bay, and will probably pass Gladstone about 120km west, and will downgrade to a category 2 cyclone by that time, around 4pm this afternoon. The Bureau of Meteorology expects Marcia to maintain that strength as it moves south over land.

In the central north of the country, tropical Cyclone Lam hit the Northern Territory coast as a category 4 at around 7:30am at Ramingining, and is currently passing between the Ranger uranium mine at Jabiru and the Gove alumina operation.

Workers on Curtis Island said they remain in temporary accommodation camps on the island.

The Bechtel Gladstone Facebook Page reassured workers the accomodation was suited to withstand cyclone conditions: "For non-locals staying in camp please be assured your safety is of the utmost importance to us. Camp buildings have been engineered and constructed for severe weather events such as this. Extensive planning has been takind place and Camp Management will be available throughout the weather event providing updates and support if needed."

Marcia was upgraded to a category five cyclone yesterday, and it appears it will be as big as Cyclone Yasi which caused extensive flooding in Queensland in 2011, and significant disruption to mining operations.

Construction contractor Bechtel's general manager Kevin Berg said that projects would remain closed until weather conditions improve.

“Our camp-based residents are safe in our facilities which are designed and built to withstand severe weather events. The safety of our employees has been our main focus leading into this event and remains so now.

“Preparation work to remove or secure materials, equipment and machinery was completed yesterday well in advance of the deterioration in weather conditions.

“The Gladstone Harbour Master manages and controls the movements of vessels in Gladstone Harbour. Our team continues to work closely with the Harbour Master to determine the safe return of ferry movements to and from the island after the Cyclone passes our region.”

Workers accommodated on the island expressed their dissatisfaction with being given inadequate notice by Bechtel about the harbour closure and limitation of ferry movement, leaving them unable to vacate the island and seek shelter in permanent buildings on the mainland.

Images: BOM, Bechtel staff.

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