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Tropical Cyclone Owen forms off the Queensland coast – and it’s picking up speed

A cyclone has formed in the Coral Sea off north Queensland but currently poses no immediate threat, authorities say.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says Tropical Cycle Owen is about 545km northeast of Willis Island and 990km northeast of Cairns.

The Category One system is expected to deepen overnight and become a Category Two cyclone on Monday, however it’s predicted to remain well off the Queensland coast until it weakens later in the week.

‘The tropical low over the northern Coral Sea has recently developed into Tropical Cyclone Owen,’ BoM warns. 

‘The system has been moving to the south southeast through today, but has recently slowed to around 8 kilometres per hour.

‘Owen is expected to deepen further overnight and is likely to reach Category 2 on Monday.’

It comes as Queensland firefighters battle bushfires and are gearing up for more volatile conditions as scorching temperatures approach.

More than 100 fires continue to burn across the state with temperatures forecast to soar over 40 degrees in many inland districts on Sunday.

Dry and hot conditions have pushed the fire rating to severe, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. 

Thunderstorms are expected to hit the state, but instead of bringing rain they are expected to start more fires caused by ‘dry lightning’.

Bushfires at Deepwater and Eungella in central Queensland, as well as at Carnarvon in the southwest and on North Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane, remain the most concerning. 

‘This exceptional heat and fire event just keeps continuing, the records are just too numerous to mention,’ meteorologist Bruce Gunn said.

‘There is still some days to go until we some relief … there is no significant rain on the horizon especially in central Queensland before Tuesday.’

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll says ‘concerning’ days lay ahead for Queensland.

‘We’re not out of the woods … it is a moving feast, the change of the winds present those challenges and the heatwave, and when you put all of this together it is a difficult concoction to deal with,’ she said.

More than 400 interstate firefighters are battling the bushfires with the help of 20 aircraft.

A young man has died as he battled to contain the bushfires.

The 21-year-old man from Rolleston, south of Emerald, was using a chainsaw to cut down a tree for a firebreak when the tree fell on him. 

Fires have destroyed four homes in the Deepwater region along with a number of sheds and vehicles.


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