Queensland residents are being urged to batten down the hatches this weekend as Cyclone Oma approaches the south east coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for the region with gale force winds and dangerous surf conditions predicted over coming days.
The cyclone, which currently sits around 900 kilometres northeast of Brisbane, is expected to move towards southern Queensland with effects of the weather event already being felt across some parts of the state.
Queensland State Manager Bruce Gunn said conditions are expected to worsen with warnings in place for higher than normal tides and coastal erosion for exposed beaches south of Seventeen Seventy in the Gladstone Region.
MEDIA RELEASE: #CycloneOma 🌀 to approach the southern #Queensland coast this weekend with a coastal crossing possible. The effects are already being felt along the coast with warnings in place for high tides and dangerous surf 🌊, read more: https://t.co/DwOacrJNLP pic.twitter.com/s0rMzfo6lT
— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) February 20, 2019
“Surf and swell conditions will be hazardous for coastal activities such as rock fishing, boating and swimming and many beaches are already closed for public safety,” he said in a statement
“Seas and swell are also expected to increase well ahead of the approach of Cyclone Oma, and these conditions present a danger for even the most experienced swimmers and surfers – so it’s safest to stay out of the water.”
The areas currently most at risk of dangerous surf conditions are Fraser Island and Wide Bay coast north of Bargara. These conditions are then expected to extend south over the remaining southeastern Queensland coast during Thursday evening and Friday.
On Thursday morning Surf Life Saving QLD announced the closure of a number of beaches along the Gold Coast region with stern warnings not to enter the water.
However, according to Gunn, Queenslanders should prepare to feel the brunt of the weather event over the weekend with potential for Oma to hit land during that time. He said residents should expect to see heavy rainfall with the possibility of flooding.
“Forecast certainly is shaping up to see the most likely scenario that Cyclone Oma will approach the cost this weekend, and a coastal crossing cannot be ruled out at this stage,” Gunn added.
“Gale force winds are possible for exposed coastal beaches, combined with heavy rainfall. The Bureau has issued a flood watch from Gladstone to the New South Wales border. Forecast rainfall totals are largely dependent on the cyclone track, and there still are a wide range of scenarios at this point.”