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Some ports reopen as Cyclone Hamish downgraded

Ports along the northern coast of Queensland, Australia, began to reopen Monday as Cyclone Hamish, which has been downgraded to a Category 4 storm, continued to churn off the coast.

Ports along the northern coast of Queensland, Australia, began to reopen Monday as Cyclone Hamish, which has been downgraded to a Category 4 storm, continued to churn off the coast.

As of Monday, there was a five per cent chance Cyclone Hamish will hit the mainland as it travels southeast, parallel to Australia's east coast. Officials said that residents should remain on high alert until at least Wednesday.

"I think we need to be awfully careful until about Wednesday," said Jim Davidson, director of the Australia Bureau of Meteorology. "We're not out of the woods yet."

Ports in Cairns and Port Douglas reopened on Monday with reports suggesting the cyclone may be further downgraded to a Category 3 by the end of the day and to Category 2 by Tuesday.

Evacuations, which had seen more than 3,000 people moved off of coastal islands on Sunday, were halted overnight.

But Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh urged residents and tourists in the area to continue to use caution.

"I don't think any of us should see ourselves out of danger yet," Bligh said. "These are very unpredictable events."

Cyclone warnings have remained in effect for coastal and island communities from Yeppoon to Hervey Bay.

Damaging winds are expected to continue to affect exposed islands between Yeppoon and Hervey Bay, including the already evacuated Heron and Lady Elliot islands.

Davidson said the amount of rain expected in the region has also been downgraded. Brisbane is now expected to receive 10-20 millimetres of rain when the cyclone was originally expected to bring up to 300 millimetres.

People living in coastal and island areas are still being warned to prepare for tidal flooding and to secure boats and property.

With files from the Associated Press

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