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.