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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tropical cyclone Ului maintains strength

Very intense tropical cyclone Ului reached a Category 5 cyclone classification yesterday, the first cat 5 in this region since 2005's Severe Tropical Cyclone Percy.


Ului continues to batter the southern Solomon Islands with its outer rain bands. The center of the storm is south of the island nation and is slowly moving towards the west-southwest and is expected to turn more southerly.


The category four cyclone battering the Solomon Islands is moving only slowly from the southern part of the country but is maintaining its strength.

Transport services in the Solomon Islands have been largely brought to a halt by the destructive conditions of Cyclone Ului which is moving in a west south-west direction at about four knots.

Reports emerging from the country show the province of Rennel and Bellona has been the worst hit so far with at least ten houses destroyed and crops severely damage.

Ului weakened slightly to a Category 4 cyclone yesterday but is forecast to strengthen back to a Category 5 cyclone. It is forecast to turn to the south or southwest later today or tonight but Ului does not pose a threat to the Australian coast. Current projections are very uncertain regarding the path of this storm but it will not be approaching the coast until later this week.

Strong winds and heavy surf are being felt along the coast so caution should be observed near the water.

Cyclone Ului is expected to intensify to a category five cyclone overnight as it continues to slowly move west-southwest over the northeast Coral Sea.

At 4pm, Cyclone Ului was about 1250km northeast of Mackay and 1370km east of Cooktown.

It is moving west southwest at about 7km/h.

--snip--

A gale warning remains in place for Cooktown to Burnett Heads, with southeasterly winds of 25/33 knots expected to gradually increase to 30/35 knots in open offshore waters in the evening, and seas rising 2.5m to 3.5m.

A strong wind warning continues for Lockhart River to Cooktown, with southeasterly winds of 25/33 knots between Cape Melville and Cooktown expected to gradually extend north to Lockhart River during the evening, and seas of 2.5m in open waters.

The windy conditions over much of the Queensland east coastal waters will continue throughout the week due to the tight pressure gradient generated by a combination of a high pressure system situated in the Tasman Sea and Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului.

Seas and swell are expected to gradually increase along much of the Queensland east coast.


Ului is eventually expected to turn to the southwest towards the Queensland coast but the storm path this far out is too uncertain. Residents should be prepared to take future action but at this time only an alert weather eye is warranted.

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