Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Tropical Cyclone Ului weakens significantly - heads towards Queensland

Tropical Cyclone Ului has weakened significantly since reaching category 5 status earlier this week. Ului is now a Category 2 cyclone, the equivalent of a tropical cyclone with winds as high as 140 km/hr and is heading towards the southwest.

The current heading will bring Ului to the Queensland coast within the next 24 hours making landfall just south of Proserpine.

Cyclone Ului to hit Queensland coast (Sydney Morning Herald)

Tropical cyclone Ului is bearing down on Queensland's north coast and generating destructive winds of up to 40 kilometres an hour.

The cyclone is 550km northeast of Mackay and is still rated a category two system, easing fears of extensive damage in the state's coastal areas, but severe flooding in some areas is expected.

A Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said on Saturday the cyclone was travelling at a speed of 26km/h and was expected to cross the coast between Townsville and Mackay early on Sunday morning.

BoM forecaster Vikash Prasad said despite the storm being downgraded on Friday, it could still have a devastating effect when it crosses land.

With the clockwise rotation of Cyclone Ului, the worst portion of this storm will be the south and southeastern quadrants as the storm crosses the coast. This will put the strongest winds and storm surge over the cities of McKay and St. Lawrence.

Coast on alert as Cyclone Ului nears (ABC News)

Emergency crews remain on standby as Tropical Cyclone Ului edges closer to the north Queensland coast.

Weather bureau spokesman Mark Hentschel says the cyclone is moving south-west at 13 kilometres an hour.

He says damaging winds will develop between Townsville and Yeppoon later in the day.

"We are expecting it to maintain at a category two intensity and cross the coast somewhere between Cardwell and Mackay early Sunday morning," he said.

"So we are expecting a category two impact on the coast."

Senior forecaster Brian Rolstone says the storm will bring severe weather to north Queensland.

"There's going to be falls in probably localised areas, getting up to near 200 millimetres," he said.

"But over a bigger area there'll be falls of probably 50 to 100 millimetres, and that'll be stretching across to the northern parts of the central highlands and probably the goldfields.

"Flooding is likely to develop about the coastal and adjacent inland areas between Bowen and St Lawrence early Sunday.

The storm claimed its first life in Australia when a life-saving champion was killed during a competition in high seas yesterday.

Teenage surfer dies while competing in life-saving championships (Times On-Line)

A teenage Australian surfing and life-saving champion was killed on Friday while competing in a national competition held in rough seas whipped up by a tropical cyclone.

Saxon Bird, a 19-year-old from Sydney, died during a heat of the Australian Surf Life Saving championships at Kurrawa Beach on the Gold Coast in Queensland amid strong winds and 2m (6ft) waves.

Graphic courtesy of BoM

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