Cyclone Marcia has formed off Queensland’s coast and is expected to intensify to make landfall as a category two cyclone early on Friday.
A tropical low in the Coral Sea turned into the cyclone about 8:00pm on Wednesday when it was about 760 kilometres off the central Queensland coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology said there was a high chance it could be a category two cyclone when it hits land between St Lawrence, south of Mackay, and Hervey Bay early on Friday.
“It has developed more quickly than expected,” Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecaster Sam Campbell told 612 ABC Brisbane.
“Previously we had been forecasting a crossing of a category two system, it is possible that it could be an even stronger system than that now based on the more rapid intensification we have seen.
“If it is a stronger system it could penetrate further inland before it weakens significantly, so perhaps some of those heavier falls could push a bit further inland than we have been forecasting.”
Gales are expected to develop about coastal and island communities between Sarina and Double Island Point during late afternoon or evening on Thursday.
Destructive wind gusts to 150kph may develop about the coast and islands near the centre on Friday morning.
The BoM warned it had the potential to be the state’s biggest weather event since ex-tropical cyclone Oswald in January 2013, in which Bundaberg was inundated and three people died in floodwaters.
Between 200 millimetres and 500 millimetres of rain is expected to be dumped between Thursday and Saturday on a massive stretch of Queensland’s coast, from St Lawrence to the southern border.
Some areas could get more than 300 millimetres in 24 hours and a flood watch is current for the Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett, Southeast Coast, and the Darling Downs and Granite Belt District forecast districts.
About 200 swift-water staff have been prepositioned for the event.
Gusts of up to 125 kilometres an hour, flash floods, high tides, beach erosion, possible tornadoes and powerful surf are expected from tomorrow to Saturday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state coordination centre in Brisbane was now fully staffed and would be operational by 6:00am on Thursday.
She said the disaster management cabinet committee would meet on Thursday at 9:00am.
“Our message to Queenslanders is start getting ready now,” she said.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Acting Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the dams would have the capacity to take the intense falls.
“This is a faster moving system so there will be a lot of rain in a shorter timeframe,” she said.
“We are in a fortunate situation in that the ground is not saturated as it has been in the past and the rain has not been ongoing for a couple of weeks.”
The last tropical cyclone to come this close to the south-east was Cyclone Fran in 1992 when it crossed near Town of 1770.
The wild weather could cause problems for those Brisbane residents still dealing with the aftermath of last year’s freak super cell storm.
The State Emergency Service has already handed out 6,500 sandbags in the Brisbane suburb of Newmarket.
Sandbags are being handed out in another four locations.
Brisbane Mayor Graham Quirk said the council was preparing for very high tides, about 2.8 metres at the Brisbane bar, on Thursday and Friday mornings which will come on top of the torrential rain.
“We are heading towards a perfect storm,” he said.
‘We are certainly copping it this summer.”
Flooding fears for regional Queensland
On the Sunshine Coast, Noosa council disaster coordinator Alan Rogers said flash flooding in hinterland towns was a concern, along with high tides on the coast in the region.
At 9:00am on Friday one of the highest tides this year was expected.
“There’s the potential for a further storm surge on top of that in the river, so areas like Gympie Terrace and other low-lying areas in the river potentially could be flooded on Friday morning,” Mr Rogers said.
In north Queensland, the biggest king tides of the year in Townsville were expected on Thursday, peaking at or above 4.05 metres.
Residents in low-lying areas, including South Townsville and Railway Estate, were being encouraged to monitor the tides.
In Gympie, north of Brisbane, Acting Mayor Rae Gate said local farmers were looking forward to the drenching rains.
“We’ve had a few showers but it hasn’t been inundated with a lot of rain over the last month, so we could do with a bit more rain,” she said.
In Bundaberg, parts of which were devastated by flooding from ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald, local police disaster management officer Grant Marcus said motorists should delay unnecessary travel as the heavy rain would block some roads.
Flooding, storm damage warning for Brisbane
State Emergency Service (SES) regional manager Steve Wardell said the homes of many Brisbane residents were still unrepaired after the freak storm that hit on the afternoon of November 27.
“There are many homes I believe that haven’t been able to get tradesmen to fix damage from the hailstorms last November, and the SES has been getting calls still to reapply tarps and to tighten up tarps,” he said.
Mr Wardell urged locals to remove loose roof tiles, clear the gutters and yard, and trim any overhanging trees or branches overhanging.
Councillor Julian Simmonds said there could be minor flooding on the bayside, riverside and surrounds.
“If you were affected by the higher than normal high tide in December 2014 you should be prepared for a similar event on Thursday and Friday,” he said.
Dangerous surf conditions, beaches to close
Gold Coast beaches between Burleigh and the Seaway were closed on Wednesday and all Gold Coast beaches were expected to be closed on Thursday.
Three to four metres of erosion was predicted.
Nathan Fife, from Surf Life Saving on the Gold Coast, warned surfers eyeing off the big swell should leave it to the “pros”.
For the second time in two weeks, predicted bad weather forced authorities to remove shark control nets from Sunshine and Cooloola Coast beaches.
Fisheries Queensland Shark Control Program manager Jeff Krause said nine nets on the Sunshine Coast and three on Rainbow Beach had been removed, but two would remain at Noosa.
Sailor prepares to ride out cyclone aboard ‘Monsoon’
Yeppoon resident George Thompson said he and his dog Razz would ride out any bad weather on board his yacht Monsoon.
Mr Thompson said the weather was a “little bit sultry I suppose and like as if a cyclone might be coming”.
“She’s pretty well settled in here and I got her really well anchored; I’ve been here for nearly two years,” he said.
It will not be the first time the pair rode out a cyclone, after surviving Oswald together.
“That was really nasty and it just hung on for days and days, so I’m hoping this one will just go through,” he said.
Topics: cyclone, storm-event, floods, rainfall, cyclones, emergency-planning, brisbane-4000, maroochydore-4558, southport-4215, toowoomba-4350, mackay-4740, townsville-4810, rockhampton-4700, gladstone-4680, gympie-4570, bundaberg-4670
Lawn Mowing Service