DARWIN was under siege last night as Tropical Cyclone Carlos delivered a second night of powerful winds and heavy showers, with a 435mm deluge in one suburb.
All schools and Darwin’s airport have been closed while Carlos hovers near the Northern Territory capital, with record rainfalls causing flooding.
The category 1 cyclone developed just 3km off Darwin’s coast early yesterday afternoon and was moving 15km southeast of the city last night.
The Bureau of Meteorology expected Carlos to head north today, before moving southwest in the afternoon.
Gordon Jackson, the bureau’s supervising meteorologist, said Darwinites should expect further winds and rains over the next 48 hours.
“Carlos is quite a weak system, as far as cyclones go,” Mr Jackson said. “But because it’s close to land, it’s very unpredictable about how it’s going to be moving.”
Even before it became a cyclone, the tropical low delivered gusts of 98km/h in Darwin and the rains caused flooding in the low-lying suburb of Rapid Creek.
The rain also smashed records, with 435mm recorded in Marrara, in the city’s north, and 366mm at Darwin airport in the 24 hours until yesterday morning.
Chief Minister Paul Henderson said Carlos was a far cry from the category 5 Cyclone Yasi, which devastated Queensland earlier this month.
‘We are, in no way, in any comparison to what Queensland was facing,” Mr Henderson said. “This is just a significant wet-season event.”
He urged people to remain calm and ensure they had cyclone kits ready.
With the airport closed yesterday, Virgin contacted affected customers to arrange different flights once Carlos cleared. Jetstar also arranged alternative travel, including flights to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Denpasar in Bali from Melbourne and Sydney.
NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts said authorities were prepared for strong winds and rain. “We don’t want people queueing in the streets to get into shops; we don’t want people emptying the shelves of everything they could possibly think of,” Mr McRoberts said.
“What we do ask is that, in a calm and sensible manner, people start to think about how they might survive in their own homes over the next three to four days.”
The tropical low that developed into Cyclone Carlos caused heavy falls in Pine Creek, 225km southeast of Darwin, on Sunday, where 114mm fell in 24 hours.
It slowly moved its way 125km northwest to Batchelor, where 101mm of rain was recorded in the 24 hours to 9am on Tuesday.
Carlos is not associated with Cyclone Yasi, which caused widespread rains in the eastern states and much of the interior.
The floods caused by Yasi’s remnants were now dissipating, with weather bureau regional director Andrew Watson saying Murray River flows were remaining steady.