Tropical Cyclone Marcia weakens but remains dangerous in Australia

Australia’s Queensland coast continued to be lashed by heavy rain and winds exceeding 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph) Friday, despite Tropical Cyclone Marcia being downgraded to a Category 4 storm.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned the storm remained “very serious” and urged the public in affected areas to remain indoors amid the threat of flooding and high winds, which have brought down trees and caused some damage to homes.

During a press conference, she said the storm system was now moving south along the coast from the town of Yeppoon towards Rockhampton, which lies 595 kilometers (370 miles) north of Brisbane, the state capital.

Around 33,000 households in the area are now without power, she said, warning that this number was likely to grow as the day progresses.

“It is still a dangerous cyclone. We are heartened that it has reduced from a (Category) five to a four, but … it is heading towards Rockhampton, a heavily populated regional town in Queensland, and we want everyone to be safe. So stay in doors,” Palaszczuk said.

Queensland’s Bureau of Meteorology said the Yeppoon area, where some 800 people were forced into temporary shelters, had seen the most “destructive winds” after the storm made landfall at around 8 a.m. Friday (5 p.m. ET Thursday). But it said the winds would weaken further by the time it reached Rockhampton — though Category 3 winds in excess of 100 kph (62 mph) were still destructive.

Along the coast, the storm brought higher than normal tides and dangerous surf conditions.

Chris Campey, a video journalist for the CNN affiliate, described the ocean waves as “intimidating.”

Seven News reporter Tom Hartley posted a video that showed winds whipping through palm trees as heavy rains pelted Rosslyn Bay.

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