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‘Could be dicey’: Cape campers warned of treacherous conditions

A very late wet season deluge expected to impact much of the Cape York Peninsula on Tuesday will fall on ground already saturated by recent rain that led to a vehicle being swept off the Archer River causeway last week and left travellers trapped by the Wenlock and Pascoe rivers. The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a 90-95 per cent chance of rain at Weipa, Coen and Lockhart River of up to 20mm on Tuesday. Campers have been advised to hit pause on their bucket list trip to the Tip until river levels subside and roads dry out. Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott pleaded with travellers in the interest of safety to delay northbound travel until rain eases. “Anybody with half a brain would be saying we might delay our trip for a little while,” he said. “There is a low forming and that could mean big rain. “We have had people up here in Lockhart stuck and that could well happen again. “We need to keep an eye on the BOM and it’s looking like it could be dicey. “The current weather forecast is not looking good at all for travelling (on) dirt roads. “We love tourists but safety is paramount.”In Weipa a rainfall average of 106.7mm was smashed in April when 200.8mm was collected in the gauge. While in Coen a total of 217.6mm last month was almost four times the April average. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Laura Boekel said more unseasonal rain was predicted for the Cape. “Absolutely it’s unseasonal, typically in May is when we see a return to dry,” she said. “In Weipa, we have observations since 1914. The mean rainfall for May is 15.7mm.“Then if we look at the forecast for Weipa on Tuesday we have 10-25mm, already we are seeing that monthly rainfall in one day. “To see it in May is quite unusual.”Last week a grader working on the Peninsula Developmental Rd ahead of the travel season was bogged to its axles and erosion of dirt road surface before a concrete causeway between the Hann River and Coen caused a major hazard for fast moving vehicles. But owner of Bamaga Transport Jim Foody does not anticipate too many headaches when he leaves the Northern Peninsula Area for Cairns on Tuesday.“The PDR might get a bit of rain and may get a bit soggy,” he said. “I would not expect anything terribly exciting but you may get an isolated heavy fall and you may have to stop and let the road dry out. “If you are coming north in a four-wheel drive I would advise caution, there is so many washouts in the road you have watch out for. “But scuddy rain is not going to affect it that much.”But the veteran Cape operator advised caution at the notorious crossing of the Archer River.“If you are going north you can come across a metre deep in a Landcruiser 40 series but if you are going south anything over 400m will wash you off the causeway,” he said. “When you are coming south you are driving into it at an angle and it’s easy to get swept off. “Anything over 400m is a risk (heading south.)”Cook Mayor Cr Scott feared late tourist season kick off could have flow on impacts for Cape York communities. “It’s going to be difficult for not just the tourists but the communities up and down the Cape that rely on tourism,” he said. “And for people that want to get cattle out and produce out, we need those roads open. “On the sealed roads you should be OK, it’s when people head out to the beaut fishing and camping spots that there is going to be trouble.” The Department of Transport and Main Roads on Monday evening listed Coen, Mission River and Archer River as hazards on the Peninsula Developmental Rd.The Bureau of Meteorology updated its weather warnings for parts of central and north Queensland on Tuesday morning.Weather updateThe bureau issued a severe thunderstorm warning with heavy rainfall forecast for parts of the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands.Innisfail and Babinda could be affected by heavy rainfall and flash flooding in severe storms over the next several hours.

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