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  • Renee Cluff

    Email Renee Cluff

    UPDATE: Meet Eat Repeat among the casualties as TC Owen forces the scaling back of the CPAC opening party

    The show will go on for the official opening of the Cairns Performing Arts Centre this Saturday, but not as it was planned.

    The Meet Eat Repeat and free community music event Jazz Under the Vines in Florence Street and Munro Martin Parklands have been cancelled.

    Cairns Regional Council says the official opening gala event inside the new building, will go ahead.

    The cancellations follow a weather briefing this afternoon, with Tropical Cyclone Owen expected to bring high rainfall and strong winds to Cairns on Saturday.

    The organiser of Meet Eat Repeat, Tropic Group's Gavin King, said while the cancellation is disappointing, he'll be working with Council to bring the foodie event to Florence Street at some point early in the new year.

    "We were really looking forward to a massive event to celebrate the opening of CPAC but the safety of punters and our food vendors is paramount.

    "We can't wait to bring the good vibes of Meet Eat Repeat to Florence Street for the very first time early in 2019," he said.

    EARLIER:

    Cairns is expected to escape a direct hit from Tropical Cyclone Owen, however people in suburbs bordering the Great Dividing Range’s Great Escarpment could be in for some destructive winds.

    The forecast is constantly changing, however latest indications are that TC Owen will make landfall as a category four system late on Friday, along the south-west coast of Cape York Peninsula.

    It will track south-east and by the time it passes to the west of Cairns in the early afternoon of Saturday, it is expected to be significantly weaker.

    The Cairns forecast for Saturday includes wind gusts of up to 120km/hour and up to 120millimetres of rainfall.

    However CQU University’s Professor of Environmental Geography, Steve Turton, is warning residents of a phenomenon known as katabatic winds.

    “These westerly winds will emanate from the Tablelands and down the great escarpment as the centre passes to the south-west of us. 

    “Compared with other tropical cities in northern Australia, Cairns has the highest risk for severe downslope winds due to our mountainous terrain," he said.

    “These downslope winds can produce destructive gusts for areas at the bottom of the escarpment and out to the coast.”

    The region has already experienced katabatic winds this year, with what was described as a mini-cyclone felling trees and bringing down powerlines in February.

    Suburbs that Professor Turton said could be impacted on Saturday include those on the northern beaches as well as Caravonica, Redlynch Valley, Bayview Heights, Mt Sheridan, Edmonton, Gordonvale and Babinda.

    He is predicting wind gusts could get up to 160 km/hour, depending on the location and intensity of the system. 

    "Either way, they will be at least 120-140 km/h so people need to be prepared for winds that are stronger than expected for those suburbs," he said.