March 23, 2010

Are you prepared for a disaster on the Gold Coast?

As the clean-up continues across the Central Queensland coast from Tropical Cyclone Ului, the flow on effects are causing further problems for residents, businesses and tourists including:
  • thousands of homes & businesses are still without power across the Central Queensland coast (60,000 at the height of the cyclone, 24,000 as of last night),
  • without power for pumping stations yesterday, mains water supply was running short in many areas
  • businesses that are trading are often only accepting cash as EFTPOS facilities are offline for many and customers are running out of cash with limited/no ATM's working or banks open,
  • those without mains power (or generators) are likely to have food spoilage with no refrigeration to keep food fresh or frozen,
  • access to fuel supplies are limited as service stations without power cannot pump fuel.

Putting this into perspective, how prepared would you have been if a cyclone or other disaster affected the Gold Coast right now similarly to Tropical Cyclone Ului?

The Gold Coast City Council's disaster management website ( has excellent resources and information on how to be prepared for a disaster event. As a community, our strongest buffer in any disaster is: be informed, be prepared.

Simple ideas include:

The following basic tips regarding getting prepared are from Council's Disaster Management at Home Guide, which is available for download from their website, or printed copies are available from Council offices and libraries.

There are 3 easy steps to plan for an emergency:
  1. Have an emergency plan -
    • List important details and contact numbers of neighbours, family/friends and emergency response agencies to help your family, household or visitors.
    • If you can't get home or in contact with each other, list a meeting place or a contact to leave a message (e.g. neighbour)

  2. During an emergency -
    • Listen to the radio for information and updates
    • Stay at home unless told otherwise
    • Have emergency plan and emergency kit ready
    • Be prepared to look after yourself and family for up to three days

  3. During an evacuation -
    • Take emergency plan and emergency kit
    • Turn off water, electricity (mains supply) and gas (if applicable)

Emergency Information & Contacts:

If a disaster event or emergency does occur on the Gold Coast, your best source for information and updates will be via your local radio station.

Alternate sources of official information include Gold Coast City Council's disaster management website ( for disaster alerts and media releases (pending power & internet are available), or by telephone through Council's Disaster Hotline on 1800 606 000.

If you do find yourself requiring assistance during a disaster for flood or storm emergencies only, contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500.

For all other or life threatening emergencies, always call Emergency Triple Zero 000.

Take the time now to read through this information, and get your emergency plan and emergency kit ready. Remember: be informed, be prepared.

Freak storms hit Perth, possible storms forecast for South East

The worst storms, possibly in 50 years, have hit Perth overnight with 120km/h winds and large hail causing widespread damage and blacking out over 150,000 homes and businesses at the height of the onslaught (Source: ABC News).

Additionally, possibly some of the best lightning photo's we've seen for a while where taken by 'stormgirl26' of (with one of the photo's shown here)

For the south east corner of Queensland, today's forecast predicts a few showers increasing to showers and storms in the afternoon across much of the south-east and southern interior.

Will we see any severe storms here on the coast today? Let us know your thoughts.

March 21, 2010

Central Qld relatively unscathed by Ului, no storm surge for Gold Coast

After crossing the Central Queensland coast overnight, ex-Tropical Cyclone Ului is now just a tropical low making it's way west towards the Northern Territory, leaving up to 60,000 homes without power and causing moderate damage to buildings and the environment.

However, most residents and officials are counting their blessings as the damage was mostly to trees, crops and only a handful of homes with missing roofs, and no reports of major injury or death.

During the night, @Dirriel mentioned via Twitter that they heard on the scanner that police where called to pick-up a pregnant woman about to give birth just before the cyclone arrived!

We have also made our final update to the Satellite Image Animation and uploaded to YouTube for all to see:

Here on the coast, the feared 'storm surge' from Ului's tail that was headline news for local media last week (as reported in our previous blog post) has failed to eventuate, with monitoring stations reporting no abnormal rises in sea/tide levels throughout the last 72 hours.

Looking ahead into the week and mostly fine conditions are expected to dominate with the occasional shower hanging around. The extended Queensland outlook does mention "an upper trough will move across southern parts of the state during Tuesday and will trigger isolated storms about the south-east", however current official forecasts for Tuesday only mentions possible showers.

TC Ului packs a punch with 200km/h winds

Tropical Cyclone Ului has already made 'islandfall' and affecting the Whitsunday Islands, with Hamilton Island recording a 202km/h wind gust at 12:30am. The eye of the cyclone is almost over the island as at 1:04am with wind gusts starting to drop.

The Mackay weather radar image at 1:10am clearly (left) shows the circular eye just passing over the islands and just beginning to make landfall near Proserpine.

Ergon Energy along with local residents & visitors (via Twitter) are reporting power outages across the region including Mackay, Sarina, the Whitsundays and Gladstone

The latest Tropical Cyclone Advice from the BOM "At 1:00 am EST the cyclone is estimated to be 69 kilometres east of Bowen and 125 kilometres north northwest of Mackay.

The cyclone is currently crossing the Whitsunday Islands as a severe tropical cyclone and is expected to move west and make landfall Bowen and Proserpine in the next hour. The cyclone is then expected to weaken as it moves inland later today."

Meanwhile here on the Gold Coast, it's a relatively calm night compared to up north, with the Gold Coast Seaway recording winds at 30km/h gusting up to 35km/h at 1:00am.

It will be a sleepless night for our friends in Central Queensland, stay safe and remember to not venture outside if you find yourself in the eye of the cyclone as winds may remain light for up to an hour - very destructive winds from a different direction could resume at any time.

March 20, 2010

TC Ului re-intensifies to Category 3, expected to cross early Sun morn

Central Queensland communities between Cardwell and Yeppoon are bracing for Tropical Cyclone Ului's arrival early Sunday morning between midnight to 2am around Proserpine, Arlie Beach and Shute Harbour.

A very committed Twitterer '@qldwhitsundays' are keeping their followers up to date with regular Tweets and live webcams via They are also prepared with backup wireless internet connections, generator, food and water - our best and safest wishes to them and everyone in the path of the cyclone.

We've updated the Ului Satellite Imagery animation up to 7:30pm, and can be viewed below:

The latest Tropical Cyclone Advice from the Bureau of Meteorology has the following advice:

At 7:00 pm EST Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului, Category 3 was estimated to be 190 kilometres northeast of Mackay and 405 kilometres east southeast of Townsville and moving west southwest at 31 kilometres per hour.

The cyclone is expected to cross the coast between Ayr and Mackay, most likely in the Proserpine region as a severe tropical cyclone early Sunday. The cyclone is then expected to weaken inland later on Sunday.

VERY DESTRUCTIVE wind gusts to 200 km/hr near the cyclone centre may affect coastal and island communities in the threatened area late tonight and early Sunday.

Meanwhile here on the Gold Coast, dangerous surf conditions that claimed the life of a young lifesaver yesterday, are expected to ease with the latest Severe Weather Warning no longer including areas south of Cape Moreton.

March 19, 2010

Lifesaving competitor dies at Kurrawa, rough conditions blamed

Rough surf conditions at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on Kurrawa beach have claimed the life of 19-year-old NSW competitor Saxon Bird (Source: Surf Live Saving Qld). According to news reports, it's believed the surfer was knocked unconscious by his own surf ski, which washed up on the beach at approx 11:30am.

This prompted an air and sea search of the area, to which Bird was found less than an hour later by a fellow life saver. Paramedics performed CPR on the young surfer until he arrived at Gold Coast Hospital in a critical condition, but later passed away. (Source: Seven News)

The competition has been suspended, with police investigating as to why the competition went ahead despite the dangerous surf conditions. Officials from the competition had deemed the conditions safe to proceed today, despite a Severe Weather Warning being issued last night expecting dangerous surf conditions to develop today.

Meanwhile, preparations are continuing along the central Queensland Coast with the small sugar town of Proserpine expected to be in the direct path of Tropical Cyclone Ului. The cyclone was downgraded to a Category 2, with the visual satellite images showing the system losing it's eye and appearing to be dissipating. An animation of the Satellite Images over the last 3 days shows the system moving south.

At this stage, no further official warnings from the Bureau have been issued regarding any potential 'storm surge' or other adverse conditions to affect the Gold Coast over the weekend.

March 18, 2010

Storm surge fears & dangerous surf for Gold Coast

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului is expected to move southwest towards the central Queensland coast on Friday and over the weekend, resulting in a cyclone advice being issued for areas between Cardwell and Yeppoon by the Bureau.

Guests and staff have already been evacuated from resort islands Heron and Lady Elliot with Coral Point Lodge, Shute Harbour, expected to vacate.

As at 4pm, Category 3 'Ului' was located over the Coral Sea about 1100km northeast of Mackay, while a large high was located over the Tasman Sea and will remain near stationary.

The windy conditions over much of the Queensland east coastal waters will continue due to the tight pressure gradient generated by a combination of a high pressure system situated in the Tasman Sea and Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului. Seas and swell are expected to increase along much of the Queensland east coast and produce dangerous surf conditions on the exposed coasts.

So whilst the cyclone may not be directly headed for us, it's effects will still be felt here on the coast, with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing a Severe Weather Warning at 5pm that includes the South East Coast district for dangerous surf conditions. The warning indicates some beach erosion is expected to develop about exposed beaches during Friday, particularly about the Sunshine and Fraser coasts. With this in mind, it might be best to avoid the beaches tomorrow and over the weekend.

The Gold Coast Bulletin today warned readers of a potential storm surge and threat of 8m waves to affect the Gold Coast as a result of the region being lashed by the tail end of Cyclone Ului. Quotes within the article from the Weather Channel's meteorologist Dick Whitaker include:

"For the Gold Coast the biggest effect is ocean swell, with booming seas, coastal erosion issues and very large waves which could be ... seven to eight metres"

"The storm surge is more like a tide, so with waves on top of that, the freak tidal effect pushes water further inland than normal."

"The Gold Coast will probably see at least a slight storm surge." (Source: Gold Coast Bulletin)

However, as the path and effects of the cyclone remain uncertain, the current marine/boating forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology for our region indicates:

Friday: Winds SE 20/25 knots ... Waves breaking dangerously close inshore, particularly about Bars. Seas 2 to 3 metres. Swell: E/NE 2.5 to 3.5 metres ...

Saturday: Winds E/SE 20/30 knots ... dependent on the movement of Tropical Cyclone. Large E/NE swells, breaking dangerously inshore.

Sunday: Winds SE/NE 20/30 knots, easing to 15/20 knots late in the day (Source: BOM)

Regardless of what happens, Gold Coast City Council's disaster management committee and local SES volunteers are on standby (Source: Gold Coast Bulletin). Full information on how to be prepared for a disaster event on the Gold Coast can be found on Council's website.

March 16, 2010

Tropical cyclone path remains 'Ului'-sive, but wild weather to return

The expected path of Tropical Cyclone Ului remains elusive with differing models and forecasts on whether the Category 5 storm will reach the Queensland Coast.

The official forecast track map (first image, left) and bulletin's from the Bureau earlier in the week indicated the cyclone would likely not reach the Queensland coast and remain out to sea.

However, forecast models (second image, left) by the United States Navy Joint Tsunami Warning Center has 'Ului' heading westwards towards the coast on Friday, however it would weaken before making landfall between Rockhampton and Mackay on Sunday morning. By the time it reaches the coast, winds are likely to have dropped to about 60 knots (111 km/h)

A Courier Mail news story today highlights the US Navy model, whereby forecaster Geoff Doueal said it was common for models to disagree. "There's not much (weather conditions) steering this at the moment, so it's a wait and see," he said (Source: Courier Mail)

Regardless of the models, the effect of the cyclone is expected to be felt during the next week, with wild weather conditions expected to lash the coasts. As a precaution, the State Government has ordered shark nets and hook lines to be removed from Gold Coast beaches.

As a result, beach goers are warned to only swim at patrolled beaches, not only because the shark nets are no longer in place, but that dangerous surf conditions with seas of up to 7 metres are expected on Friday (Source: ABC News)

At time of posting there are no direct weather warnings for the Gold Coast region, however there is currently a Coastal Wind Warning that extends down to Double Island Point, which will likely be expanded to include Point Danger as the week progresses.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment of what you think will happen.

March 13, 2010

Will Qld see it's last cyclone for the season?

According to the Bureau of Meteorology's Tropical Cyclone Outlook, a developing tropical low is located near Vanuatu and is expected to intensify further and become a tropical cyclone within 12 to 24 hours. This system is expected to move slowly westward (i.e. towards Australia) during the weekend.

The current Mean Sea Level Pressure Analysis map from the BOM show the cyclone called 'Ului' heading in a north-westerly direction. However, the current synoptic maps at Weatherzone show the cyclone called 'Paul' approaching the Central Queensland coast towards the end of next week.

Our friends at have been Twittering (@qldonline) information from the weather models (including the US Navy) that the cyclone would cross land on Friday evening or Saturday morning between Mackay and the Whitsundays with wind speeds over 125km/h.

Anyway, from the looks if it the South East corner won't be directly impacted, however it looks like further showers and windy conditions to continue on the Gold Coast.

March 7, 2010

Will autumn storms pack any punch in 2010?

The summer storm season has passed us again for another year, with relatively few storms affecting the Gold Coast this time compared to previous years (in my opinion at least). Normally, the onset of colder weather spells the end of afternoon thunderstorms that generally come hand in hand with a hot day.

However, after a spate of severe thunderstorms affecting Melbourne again today, yesterday's deluge dropped hail up to 10cm in size and heavy rain causing flash flooding. Around 100,000 homes lost power and major public facilities damaged including Docklands Stadium, the Arts Centre and Southern Cross Railway Station (Source: ABC News).

This video posted on You Tube just goes to show how seeming 'calm' can become havoc so quickly.

Our first set of autumn storms are predicted to arrive on Wednesday afternoon, with the following outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology State Outlook:

On Wednesday the high in the Great Australian Bight becomes well established and intensifies to a central pressure of about 1037 hPa. This high pushes a vigorous S/SE change up the New South Wales coast reaching SE Queensland during the day. This change is expected to kick off afternoon showers and thunderstorms over parts of SE Queensland.

So, do you think we could still be in for a pounding from storms during autumn, or will we not see any really severe storms until spring/summer returns again? Leave us a comment with your local knowledge or experiences.

March 2, 2010

Gold Coast gets drenched, but not as wet as some!

Areas of the northern Gold Coast received over 150mm of rain over the past 24hours, but the worst of the weather stayed north around the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay areas.

In the 24hrs up to 9am this morning (2nd March), Coomera recorded 161mm, 147mm at Evandale (Bundall) and 136mm at Southport.

This afternoon at 4:20pm, the Bureau of Meteorology downgraded the Severe Weather Warning as heavy falls are no longer expected causing flash flooding.

However further light to moderate falls are still expected tonight, with a general Flood Warning for Coastal Streams/Rivers still current warning of rapid rises in areas of heavy rainfall.

Additionally, the Gold Coast has been spared damaging wind gusts of up to 100km/h staying north of Cape Moreton and out west in the Granite Belt and Darling Downs. The highest gust recorded at the Gold Coast Seaway was 61km/h at 5am and 1pm today.

There is still a Coastal Wind Warning current warning of strong 25/33 knot E/SE winds between Cape Moreton to Point Danger, including Moreton Bay. Seas to 3 metres in open waters with a developing 2 to 2.5 metre S/SE swell. Seas rising to 1.6 metres in Moreton Bay.

What was your experience? Leave a comment or follow us on Twitter @weathergc

March 1, 2010

Severe Weather & Coastal Wind warnings for SEQ

It's beginning to look like the south-east corner is going to get a pounding, with the Bureau of Meteorology issuing a second Severe Weather Warning at 4:35pm specifically for the South-East coast district and Wide Bay Burnett districts for flash flooding and damaging winds tonight and tomorrow.

New auto-alerts of QLD Weather Warnings via Twitter

Overnight we have implemented a feature automatically post to Twitter any new updates for Quensland Weather Warnings from the Weatherzone RSS Feed using twitterfeed. Any of these automatic posts will be prefixed by 'Auto-Alert:'.

At this stage, all updates will be for any warnings for the whole of Queensland, however we are testing filtering options to only broadcast updates relating to the South-East coast forecast districts.

Don't worry, we will still be posting detailed Twitter posts for any warnings that impact the Gold Coast.

Let us know your thoughts and ideas, do you want to see the auto-alerts for all Queensland warnings, or just the Gold Coast/South East region?