Tropical Cyclone Jasper: residents and visitors stockpile board games and beer before storm crosses Queensland coast | Australia weather #Tropical #Cyclone #Jasper #residents #visitors #stockpile #board #games #beer #storm #crosses #Queensland #coast #Australia #weather

Bec Dowel arrived in Cairns with her partner and two children on Saturday for a pre-Christmas holiday.

Instead of being out enjoying the nearby reef, beaches or mountains, on Tuesday she found herself shopping for board games as Tropical Cyclone Jasper bore down on Queensland’s north.

“The Big4 [holiday park] we are staying at has told anyone in a caravan, camper or tent to leave yesterday. We are in a cabin,” Dowel told Guardian Australia.

The family, who have never experienced a cyclone, were spending their last afternoon before Jasper was forecast to make landfall on Wednesday visiting the cinema and sourcing supplies.

“We have stocked up on food and drinks, definitely some extra beer. And we got some board games,” said Dowel, who travelled north from Mackay.

“The supermarkets didn’t have much in the way of baked beans and spaghetti but other than that we had no problems getting supplies.”

Preparations were well under way between Cape Flattery and Lucinda, including Cairns and Innisfail, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning up to 500mm of rain may fall in 24 hours in some areas, and a king tide looming.

On Tuesday afternoon, authorities warned of “a life-threatening deluge” which was expected to hit the Cairns and Townsville regions on Wednesday. A preemptive disaster declaration had been issued.

Speaking directly to those who live in the Cairns, Innisfail, Yarrabah, Castaway Coast, Tablelands, Charters Towers and Port Douglas regions, the incoming premier, Steven Miles, urged people to be prepared.

“If you live in any of those regions, you need to be ready for a cyclone to cross the coast sometime tomorrow,” he said.

“Destructive wind gusts of up to 140km/h are forecast. We are also expecting very heavy rainfall, which will cause life-threatening flash flooding. As we always say, if it’s flooded, do not cross it, if it’s flooded, forget it.”

Cairns resident Tim Westcott said the mood “was OK” in the coastal city but everyone was busy preparing, tying things down, taping windows and sandbagging areas.

“All mariners are empty with boats tied off down the creek,” Westcott said.

“Other people I know have been sent home from work to prepare for tomorrow when it comes.

“Personally, it’s the rain and storm surge that will be the problem. The winds won’t be that huge.”

Jasper is forecast to cross the coast as a category two system early on Wednesday afternoon, most likely between Cooktown and Cairns, with wind gusts of 140km/h predicted.

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It will then weaken as it moves inland during Thursday towards the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Tracking map of Cyclone Jasper heading for north of Port Douglas
Tropical Cyclone Jasper is expected to cause heavy rain and flash flooding in far north Queensland, with it tipped to cross the coast north of Cairns on Wednesday afternoon. Photograph: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Communities were being warned to prepare for up to five days of power and internet outages, with many businesses shutting or preparing to shut as the severe weather approaches.

Evacuation centres had been set up in Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown, and sandbags had been provided in Cairns where about 15,000 properties were at risk of storm surge flooding.

The Cairns hospital was also vulnerable, prompting contingency plans including the cancellation of elective surgery to free up capacity.

At the Crown Hotel in Cairns, about 30 people were relaxing and having a drink on Tuesday afternoon.

One bartender, who asked not to be named, said most locals seemed relatively relaxed about Jasper’s arrival.

“I’m freaking out a bit but that’s just me, everyone [else] seems alright. But what can you do? You can’t do anything, it’s Mother Nature.”

– Australian Associated Press contributed to this report

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