| Huge tides batter coast as Hamish moves south
| Sunday, March 8, 2009
|Huge tides are sweeping the coast from Queensland's north to the Wide Bay region as Cyclone Hamish moves south.
The category 4 storm is about 235 kilometres north, north-east of Yeppoon and is maintaining its intensity as it moves south-east.
The weather bureau says winds up to 250 kilometres an hour are generating huge swells off the Wide Bay coast.
Forecaster Manfred Greitschus says the highest tides of the year have been recorded along parts of Queensland's coastline overnight.
"Some of those may be moving up onto the coast north of the cyclone warning zone up round Mackay and even up onto the coast just south of Proserpine," he said.
"As the cyclone moves south the winds will gradually increase further south down towards Lady Elliot Island and Herron Island over the next 24 hours."
Both islands have been evacuated.
While tourists have been also evacuated from Great Keppel Island, off Yeppoon, about 20 residents are staying put.
Lou Stokes, who runs the local store, is among about residents still on the island.
Ms Stokes says the wind has picked up but there has been little rain so far.
"We're pretty well battened down all ready for whatever happens," she said.
"We've got marine radio that if our phone lines go down which we're hoping they won't and SES have been in contact with us as well.
"Warnings have been good we actually had a get together about 1:00pm AEST today and just sort of chatted through what anything that we felt necessary but everybody's pretty happy with how they've battened down and yeah we're all ready for it."
The State Emergency Service (SES) has sandbagged 500 homes in the Yeppoon area and another 80 at nearby Emu Park, as well as setting up a command centre with 20 volunteers are on standby in case weather conditions deteriorate.
The Yeppoon Base Hospital was evacuated yesterday, with patients being transferred to Rockhampton hospitals.
Residents are being told to consider getting out by tonight and not wait until the last minute.
Strong winds are expected to develop between Shoalwater Bay and Gladstone, extending south over other exposed coastal and island communities to Bundaberg.
The weather bureau says the cyclone is expected to maintain its intensity as it moves towards the coast.
Forecaster Tony Wedd says heavy rain is expected in the next 24 hours or so.
"The really heavy rain bands have stayed off the coast sort of been clustered around the centre of the cyclone," he said.
"But there is the chance that heavy rainfall may develop about the coast between about St Lawrence and Bundaberg as some of those peripheral rain bands move on shore."
Wide Bay on alert
Emergency crews have met with local authorities across the Wide Bay region where the cyclone is predicted to make landfall on Tuesday.
Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) spokesman Frank Pagano says residents need to be on alert.
"We're particularly interested in people living in low-lying areas and they should be prepared to move if the circumstances arrive," he said.
Mr Pagano says there are no mass evacuations in the area at this stage.
Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts says preparations are well advanced in the Wide Bay region.
"The current computer modelling shows it moving slightly away from the coast but the potential to move closer to the coast on Tuesday," he said.
"So it still poses a significant threat particularly to the Bundaberg through to Hervey Bay area and there is a lot of planning underway to ensure that we have appropriate preparations if that occurs."
Local councils are warning residents not to be complacent.
Fraser Coast Mayor Mick Kruger is warning residents to make the necessary safety measures.
"Take all the precautions you should if you believe you're vulnerable the advice is if you've got a friend in a higher area or a family, move out," he said.
The Fraser Coast South-Burnett Regional Tourism Board's David Hay says says a decision will be made on Monday afternoon whether 150 tourists from a resort on Fraser Island need to be evacuated.
"We've made preparations in case the cyclone does come our way," he said.
"If it does it'll be early on Tuesday, so we'll assess the situation as it unfolds and should we need to ask people to move off the island completely and out of the resort we'll do that on Monday afternoon.
"I think everyone is keeping their sense of humour there's certainly some people that we've been speaking to who've recently experienced flooding in north Queensland and are now seeing a potential cyclone here hitting the coast as well.
"But generally people understand and obviously for their safety we need to take the necessary precautions."
Campers have already been evacuated from the island.
Mr Hay is optimistic the area will be able to recover quickly.
"Hopefully it'll be a blip on the radar and it'll pass quickly and not cause much damage," he said.
"I think overall in terms of once the weather events over our numbers will be fine and there's plenty of people international and Australian visitors moving up and down the coast on that pattern there so there won't be a significant effect there unless it causes a reasonable amount of damage."
|posted by Moderator Londen time 10:37 PM