The first storm of Australia's tropical cyclone season has weakened after making a destructive landfall on the northeastern coast of Queensland.
Tropical Cyclone Jasper slammed ashore late Wednesday evening as a strong Category 2 system with peak winds of 140 km/hr near the small Aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal.
While now below cyclone strength, the remnants of Jasper continue to hammer the region with torrential rain, flooding, and isolated wind damage.
Jasper's landfall location was sparsely populated, limiting loss of life and property destruction from its powerful winds and storm surge.
However, the nearby indigenous community of Wujal Wujal still faced a battering as the eye passed dangerously close by. With most residents having evacuated prior to the storm's arrival, homes and buildings held up relatively well despite the intense eyewall winds.
Preliminary reports suggest Wujal Wujal escaped a direct hit, sustaining only limited damage such as downed trees and power lines.
Further south along the coast, impacts were less pronounced but still significant around regional hub Cairns as Jasper sideswiped the area.
Although now below cyclone strength, the sprawling storm’s trailing rains continue to drench communities already saturated from an unusually wet season, causing scattered flooding.
Rivers are overflowing banks, blocking roads, and requiring isolated evacuation and swift water rescue operations in inundated towns. These relentless downpours are forecast to continue for days, exacerbating flood impacts.
Recovery efforts face obstacles from debris-littered and waterlogged roads as emergency crews work to fully assess Jasper's impacts.
However, with communications interrupted by electricity outages in the hardest hit rural areas, the true extent of the damage is only just coming into grim focus in the aftermath.
For isolated towns and indigenous communities already vulnerable, it may be a prolonged road to recovery as persistent flooding delays vital reconnection and rebuilding.