| Queensland holds its breath as Cyclone Ului tracks parallel with coast
| Monday, March 15, 2010
|WEATHER Bureau forecasters predict Cyclone Ului will turn south today, tracking parallel with the Queensland coast.
But the US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre has the cyclone easing and veering towards the coast in an area between Fraser Island and Airlie Beach on Friday.
Ului was situated south of the Solomon Islands yesterday, 1400km northeast of Mackay and moving west-southwest at 7km/h. That is about half its speed of the previous day.
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.
Ului drifted slowly west yesterday, but its longer-term track remained uncertain.
With wild weather expected to lash the coast during the next week, the State Government announced nets and shark hook lines would be removed from Gold and Sunshine coast beaches.
Nets due to go back in the water at Cairns for the start of the northern winter swimming season will remain stored until bad weather passes.
Tony Ham, manager of Fisheries Queensland shark control program, said gear could come adrift and become a hazard.
"Gear that is loose in the water can be very dangerous, especially if someone becomes entangled," Mr Ham said.
"Those who choose to swim should do so only at patrolled beaches."
Mr Ham also warned that rain might bring bull sharks out of rivers, creeks and canals.
Environment Department monitoring buoys off Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast measured offshore swells to about 5m yesterday, easing by about 1m from the day before.
The bureau warned winds might increase to gale force over tropical and central coast waters today due to the cyclone and a Tasman Sea high pressure system.
Scattered showers will continue in most east coast districts, spilling into inland areas mainly in the afternoon.
Seqwater spokesman Mike Foster said the combined total of Brisbane's Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine dams was 97.4 per cent. Wivenhoe was at 95.9 per cent.
Toowoomba's dams were at 16.9 per cent.
Opposition transport spokeswoman Fiona Simpson called on the State Government to make urgent repairs in the flood-ravaged southwest.
Meanwhile, Fiji was being battered by its worst storm on record today as Cyclone Tomas slammed into the islands.
Locals said the northern islands were "copping it in a big way".
The category-four cyclone was about 375km northeast of the capital, Suva, yesterday and was expected to intensify during the next 24 hours. More than 5000 people had been evacuated from their homes.
Matt Boterhoven, a senior forecaster at the Fiji Meteorological Service, told AAP the island was taking a severe beating.
"Unfortunately we can't get a lot of reports out of there at this point," Mr Boterhoven said, but he predicted "a lot of rain and flooding".
The acting director of Fiji's Disaster Management Office, Pajiliai Dobui, said: "Our worry is how devastating the cyclone will be."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra told AAP the Australian High Commission in Suva would be in contact Australians currently in Fiji.
Tourism Fiji said Air New Zealand and V-Australia had cancelled all Fiji services until further notice and Air Pacific said it would postpone flights to Fiji out of Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney until today.
Additional reporting AAP
|posted by Moderator Londen time 4:58 PM