Cyclone Tiffany expected to cross Top End coast as category 1 system, as Groote Eylandt residents brace for impact

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Tropical Cyclone Tiffany is expected to make landfall in the Northern Territory today.  ( sebadanon)

Tropical Cyclone Tiffany is expected to cross the eastern Top End coast around noon today as a category 1 system, after being downgraded from category 2 classification.

After passing over northern Queensland and losing cyclone strength throughout Tuesday, the weather system reformed into a cyclone in the Gulf of Carpentaria overnight and has continued to develop while over water.

However, according to the latest advice from the Bureau of Meteorology NT (BOM NT), the system has weakened in the past few hours and is now unlikely to intensify to reach category 2 strength.

On ABC Darwin local radio this morning, BOM NT senior forecaster Billy Lynch said the cyclone hadn’t developed as much as predicted because it had moved faster over water and closer to the coast than expected.

“It’s probably three hours or so ahead of schedule, from where we were forecasting yesterday,” he said.

“It’s forecast to make landfall around the Port Roper region, just to the south of Numbulwar, either later this morning or early this afternoon.

“Currently, in our advices, we’re forecasting a category 2 impact. But on the advice that’s going to be going out next, advice, we are going to reduce that back to a category 1 impact.

“It does look like it’s just run out of time to reach category 2 intensity.”

Mr Lynch also said the eye of the cyclone was now expected to pass to the south of Groote Eylandt, meaning communities there would avoid a “direct hit”.

A cyclone warning is currently in place for a stretch of the Carpentaria coast from Cape Shield to the NT/ Queensland border, including Groote Eylandt, Numbulwar, Ngukurr, Bulman, Port Roper and Port McArthur.

But Mr Lynch said BOM NT was likely to reduce the warning zone area in its next round of advice.

“Part of the warning [zone] north of Groote Eylandt will get cancelled,” he said.

“Bulman will come out of warning, and we’ll also cancel the part of the warning [zone] from Port McArthur through to the Queensland border.

“We’re really just focusing on that part of the coastline around that south-west Gulf of Carpentaria, from Groote Eylandt around to Port McArthur, with Numbulwar, Groote Eylandt and Ngukurr probably being the main communities that just need to keep listening to the latest advice, and take shelter as conditions deteriorate today.”

Incident controller and NT Police Superintendent Brad Fox told ABC Darwin there were several public cyclone shelters open in Groote Eylandt, Numbulwar and Ngukurr, and about 50 people had used the Numbulwar shelter overnight.

However, he said most people on Groote Eylandt had opted to shelter at home after the cyclone’s predicted strength was downgraded.

Superintendent Fox said the current advice for people in the warning area was to keep sheltering in a suitable location and to stay well-informed.  

And he said authorities were well-prepared to provide assistance.

“As it comes across land, we’ve actually surged additional resources into the community of Ngukurr for that expected landfall arrival,” he said.

Storm tides are expected between Cape Shield and the Territory/Queensland border, including Groote Eylandt, as Tropical Cyclone Tiffany passes today.

A flood watch remains in place for the North West and Carpentaria Coastal waters.

Video: Huge dust storm seen inundating north-west Queensland town. (

Huge dust storm seen inundating north-west Queensland town.

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