Eyes on Ului: cyclone watch
A CYCLONE watch was declared yesterday for coastal areas from Cardwell to Yeppoon, with Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului on track to cross the coast between Cardwell and Mackay some time on Sunday morning.
Rainbow Beach was closed yesterday and is likely to remain closed today, lifeguard Lleam Rees told The Gympie Times.
Windy conditions along much of the Queensland coast were a result of the tight pressure gradient generated by a combination of a high-pressure system situated in the Tasman Sea and Cyclone Ului.
Lleam said the decision to close the beach was due to a very strong side sweep, lots of flash rips and some big powerful waves pounding the coastline.
Lifesavers are cautioning swimmers at southeast Queensland beaches to take extreme care with high seas warnings and monster weekend swells predicted.
The Weather Channel’s senior meteorologist Dick Whitaker said Ului, located late yesterday about 1100km to the northeast of Mackay, is a huge system with a large, well developed eye.
It was travelling south-south-west at just seven km/h, with simulations picking up on a possible increase of speed. Wind gusts near the centre were reaching 195km/h.
Mr Whitaker said a storm surge, strong winds and heavy rain is likely as the cyclone crosses the Capricornia coast, with the potential to impact on areas well to the south.
If the cyclone moves inland, it will decay into a rain depression and produce heavy falls across already saturated catchments, he said.
In this scenario, Mr Whitaker said just where the heaviest falls of rain were likely was dependent on where the cyclone crossed.
A variance of say 100km can have a drastic effect, he said.
Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said Emergency Management Queensland and State Emergency Services are well prepared for Ului.