Cyclone Ita


Cyclone Ita was a monster that hit the coast on 11 April 2014.

It was definitely the strongest cyclone to hit Cape York in recent times.

And it was the first cyclone to hit Cooktown for the past 50 years
.


Up until the very end of its path it was stronger than Larry and Yasi, and even though it hit the coast as a Cat 4 and Cooktown as a Cat 3, it was still a monster that we locals will always remember
.


It is always the same story - we don't know about a cyclone even a week ahead.

   tropical cyclone forecast track map

On Sunday 6. April we were happily boating on Annan River just south of Cooktown
, fishing and mud crabbing. That night we got home and when I did my cyclone check online I was blown away - there was a Cat 1, predicted to become a Cat 3, and head towards Cape York.

   bom cyclone watch

By 8
. April cyclone Ita sure was a Cat 3 and still heading too badly towards us. I was hoping at that stage and kept putting off the cyclone preparation - what if it didn't come here and it was all wasted time? I had work to do so I just kept working.

   internet cyclone

On 10
. April it turned to Cat 4, and its predicted path moved closer and closer to Cooktown. That got me off my bum and into cyclone preparation!

   cyclone preparation

And sure enough - within hours only after turning to a Cat 4
, Cyclone Ita was a Cat 5 - the most destructive kind on the scale.

   bom cyclone

Its forecast track map now really showed it was coming to Cooktown - and that was very serious stuff
.

   cyclone update

We got all kinds of warnings - over TV, radio, even emails from the shire council - and a cyclone shelter was activated in town
.

   cyclone warnings

After doing all our cyclone preparation
, after lots of thinking we decided to go to the shelter and be safe.

   cyclone shelter

The shelter is only a few years old and what a great idea it was to build it. We could watch the news
,

   cyclone news

... we could see out through the windows protected by debris screens;

The video below is from early hours still - before the cyclone was here
, but the winds were already picking up:



.
.. the info was constantly updated,

   cyclone tracking

... and it got very scary indeed:

   super cyclone

In the afternoon on the 11. April it was said that cyclone Ita was stronger than Yasi (2011; one of the worst two ever in Australia
, along with Larry of 2006).

   cyclone yasi

But then
, something saved us. Late at night when cyclone Ita crossed the coast at Cape Flattery, it had been downgraded to Cat 4. And because it had some land to cross from Cape Flattery to Cooktown, it was further downgraded to Cat 3 by the time it got here.

   cyclone coming

It was still noisy once it arrived in Cooktown after midnight (you have to turn your computer volume up as it was a huge room and it was not possible to record the full sound of the roaring wind from the floor):



I also got to film a bit of the winds through a screened window during the night
, until the outside lights went off:



In the morning
, it was all over,

   cyclone report

... and we were checking the damage outside ...

   tropical cyclone monitoring

... while waiting to be allowed out of the shelter.

   cyclone survivors

Here are some trees you saw in the cyclone winds in the videos above:

   cyclone damage

And here is some more - all broken and bare:

   tropical cyclone ita

When we finally got out, we understood just HOW much the downgrade from Cat 5 to Cat 3 had meant to us!!!

   cyclone winds

There were uprooted trees
,

   cyclone speed

... there was quite a bit of mess in places
.

   cyclone fanatic

There was the occasional roof
,

   cyclone victims

... but nowhere near as many as after Larry and Yasi - they were a heck of A LOT worse than this.

   cyclone power

The most unfortunate was the West Coast Hotel that lost its roof
.

   cyclone ita

The weather was still cyclonic during my first look around in town:




.
.. while the following day was beautiful and sunny with a perfect sunset as cyclone Ita had well and truly left the area:

   cyclone weather

All in all we were very, very lucky - Cooktown would have been flattened if cyclone Ita didn't downgrade right in the end of its path!







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