TC OMA: Mass erosion, 50m of beach gone on Cooloola Coast
MAMMOTH waves, abnormally high tides and gale force winds pounded the Cooloola Coast today in the face of Cyclone Oma, causing eerie scenes at the region's most popular tourist spots.
Rainbow Beach is closed and low-lying areas of Inskip Point that were inundated with water at high tide were left eroded with "50m of beach gone" according to Cooloola Coastcare's Dr Lindy Orwin.
The serious beach vegetation loss could leave an irreversible mark on the Cooloola coastline, she said.
Yesterday serious sand loss was already visible at Inskip Point, after water had inundated the lowest lying areas of the shoreline at high tide.
Cooloola Coastcare's Dr Lindy Orwin, who has been monitoring erosion in the area, said while shifting sand is a normal part of the Cooloola Coast's sand cycle, vegetation loss from this weather event would leave the beach exposed.
Beach grass had been ripped from dunes and trees had been sucked into and widened Inskip Point land slip that famously opened up at a popular camping ground last September leaving parts of the beach open to hastening future erosion.
It's a loss that could mean the line of the cliff at Cooloola, which is slowly but irreversibly moving inland, will degenerate at faster pace if left without plant matter to contain it, Dr Orwin said.
"The erosion will be extreme and it will take some time to come back - I have confidence it will come back," Dr Orwin said.
"The sand will wash out and it will just come back and deposit.
"That's a normal cycle - this is a dynamic coast line - from Inskip to Double Island.
"The tree and plant damage on the dunes make the dunes more vulnerable to erosion - they take a long time to come back."
The Cyclone Watch for Oma was cancelled on Thursday night with the intense storm now expected to stay well offshore through the weekend.
Oma had weakened to a Category One system but was expected to re-intensify to a Category Two through yesterday and continue moving in a south to south-westerly direction before shifting slowly to the north.
The BOM said abnormally high tides and dangerous surf conditions would continue along the southern Queensland coast over the next few days and into early next week.
Waves of up to four meters were expected to continue hitting the coast, while a wind speed of 109kmh was recorded at Double Island Point this morning.
"Water levels on the high tide could possibly exceed the highest tide of the year," Sunshine Coast Local Disaster Management Group co-ordinator Cathy Buck said.
A Severe Weather Warning for Damaging Winds, Abnormally High Tides and Dangerous Surf remained current yesterday as did a Hazardous Surf Warning.
The full blow to the shoreline will not be known until the system moves away, Dr Orwin said.
"The longer it stays stationery beside us, the greater the damage long term," she said.
Rainbow Beach Learn to Surf owner Sarah Booth said while the weather event was supercharged due to the combination of tide and weather, residents were used to seeing the aftermath of erosion on Rainbow Beach.
"Often the big swell can strip meters of sand from the beach - which exposes the rocks at Mudlo and under the Carlo Blow and makes Double Island Point harder to access even at low tide.
"This sort of swell and wave action brings all the trees barrelling down the beach.
"It cleans the beach, it changes the sand bars - it's just a natural cycle of the ocean and beach."
Visitors to the region in coming weeks can help exposed dunes by keeping off beach vegetation, Dr Orwin said.