Cattle producers in parched north west Queensland are hoping Tropical Cyclone Zane, which formed yesterday on the last day of the official cyclone season, can spark a final wet finish to an extremely disappointing 2012-13 wet season.
However the odds of potential rain relief to areas where it is most needed, particularly Queensland’s Gulf country, appeared to be lengthening this morning as forecasts showed the system was weakening and tracking a long way north.
At 10am the Category 2 cyclone was tracking about 305km north east of Cooktown and travelling west/northwest at 14km per hour.
It is expected to weaken further before it crosses the coast early Thursday morning, with the crossing likely to occur at this point high up on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula between Orford Ness and Cape Sidmouth.
A Tropical Cyclone Advice from the Bureau of Meteorology at 10am said areas of heavy rain are expected to develop across parts of far northern Queensland, north of Cooktown, during the afternoon and on Wednesday evening as the system approaches the coast.
Zane officially formed on the last day of the official cyclone season and is on track to become the first tropical cyclone in seven years to cross Queensland's Cape York Peninsula.
While it was initially thought likely to build into a Category 3 cyclone before crossing the coast, as of this morning it had been downgraded to a category 2 and was expected to weaken into a Category 1 before making landfall.
What Zane does after it crosses is anyone’s guess, but many producers in Queensland’s dry north west will have their fingers cross that a southern turn towards the Gulf is on the cards.
At Charters Towers, local livestock agent Jim Geaney said that while the downs country further west was in bad shape seasonally, a significant rain event at this point would still deliver benefits.
“We were out there in the 1970s and if you did get 3-4 inches of rain in that area, regardless of how dry it is, it would do some good, “ Mr Geaney said.
“You would get a little bit of herbage and some feed would come up, especially this time of year.”
Speaking to Beef Central this morning, he said Charters Towers was picking up some drizzle from the TC Zane system, but most of the rain so far had been received further north in the Cairns region, where about 25mm had been recorded.
“The only way it will help us is if it does turn back in this direction and come back and cross the peninsula and goes back into the gulf, then some of those people there around Richmond, Julia Creek, Cloncurry, that is where they really need it, and that Forsyth, Georgetown and Einsleigh area (might benefit).”
Mr Geaney said the Charters Towers region was looking reasonably good after some good grass rain, but lot of dams were back to being very low.