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.
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.
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!
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.
Its forecast track map now really showed it was coming to Cooktown - and that was very serious stuff.
We got all kinds of warnings - over TV, radio, even emails from the shire council - and a cyclone shelter was activated in town.
After doing all our cyclone preparation, after lots of thinking we decided to go to the shelter and be safe.
The shelter is only a few years old and what a great idea it was to build it. We could watch the 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,
... and it got very scary indeed:
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).
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.
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,
... and we were checking the damage outside ...
... while waiting to be allowed out of the shelter.
Here are some trees you saw in the cyclone winds in the videos above:
And here is some more - all broken and bare:
When we finally got out, we understood just HOW much the downgrade from Cat 5 to Cat 3 had meant to us!!!
There were uprooted trees,
... there was quite a bit of mess in places.
There was the occasional roof,
... but nowhere near as many as after Larry and Yasi - they were a heck of A LOT worse than this.
The most unfortunate was the West Coast Hotel that lost its roof.
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:
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!