Australian cyclone makes landfall, loses strength

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 19, 2015 6:32 PM

By James Regan

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A  powerful tropical cyclone was losing strength after crossing Australia's north-east coast on Friday, with no immediate reports of injuries.

Cyclone Nathan made landfall shortly before dawn as a category four system, the second highest intensity rating, and was expected to continue its westward movement inland while weakening, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

The storm was downgraded by the bureau to a category three system at about 2200 GMT.

At its peak, Nathan was packing sustained winds near the center of 130 km (85 miles) per hour with wind gusts to 189 km per hour.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters there have been no reports of injury.

The cyclone is expected to lose much of its punch over land, but meteorologists warned it could reform again if it reaches the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, 250 km (155 miles) from the coast.

The archipelago nation of Vanuatu was devastated last weekend by Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest storms ever to hit the South Pacific.

(Editing by Chris Reese)