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Queenslanders on alert ahead of Severe Cyclone Ului

The third official cyclone advisory has been issued by Australian authorities as Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului moves closer to the Queensland coast.

A Cyclone “watch” has been declared for coastal areas from Cardwell to Yeppoon, including Townsville and Mackay.

As of this morning NZT Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului, still Category 3 although it has weakened a little (see stats at the bottom of this story), was estimated to be 1090 kilometres northeast of Mackay and 1220 kilometres east northeast of Townsville and moving south at 7 kilometres per hour says the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

The cyclone is expected to remain about the same strength as it makes landfall. says the cyclone has barely moved in the past 24 hours but still expects the cyclone to make landfall in the very early hours of Sunday NZT with hurricane force winds potentially destroying crops, homes, powerlines and trees.

Image:  Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului yesterday churns off the Queensland coast…it is expected to turn towards Australia today.  Image / GOES, NOAA   

“Heavy rain, on top of a wet summer will seriously increase the threat of flooding” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  “On top of the heavy rain coastal flooding will be likely with waves several metres high”.

Mr Duncan says regions where the eye makes landfall can expect serious storm surges.  “The eye of a cyclone acts like a vacuum – creating a dome of water than can be a number of metres higher than normal – on top of that large swells and wind blown waves can be incredibly damaging to low lying coastal communities”. says the cyclone could be devastating to the Great Barrier Reef which is fragile in major storms like this.

BOM says Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului is expected to begin moving in a southwesterly direction tonight towards the Queensland coast.

“On current predictions the most likely scenario is for the cyclone to cross the coast Sunday morning between Cardwell and Mackay. However, it is important to understand that some uncertainty remains in this outlook period” says the Bureau.

Damaging winds should develop in the area during Saturday and increasing further on Saturday night as the cyclone approaches the coast..

“The windy conditions over much of the Queensland east coastal waters will continue 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 increase along much of the Queensland east coast and produce dangerous surf conditions on the exposed coasts.

“People between Cardwell and Yeppoon should consider what action they will need to take if the cyclone threat increases”.

Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone Ului at 1am NZT

  • Recent movement………. towards the south at 7 kilometres per hour
  • Wind gusts near centre… 185 kilometres per hour
  • Severity category…….. 3
  • Central pressure……… 970 hectoPascals

Image / Bureau of Meteorology


bkp on 18/03/2010 7:07pm

Hi Phil

I agree with the comments posted below re the great graphics. I have been searching for information on Ului for days and to date this is the best information and graphic detail I have found. The New Zealand Met Service doesn’t really provide any information on Ului.

Can you advise, based on current modelling, whether or not Ului is like to have any effect on New Zealand’s weather over the next week.

WW Forecast Team on 18/03/2010 8:07pm

Hi bkp – thanks for your comments too!

WeatherWatch is working towards becoming the cyclone news authority in the south pacific… we have a lot more work to do but we’re keen to pull the resources of the three main regions in our area in to one place.  We live in a messy part of the world where our cyclone naming and monitoring is divided amonst 3 nations – Fiji, Australia and NZ.  NZ doesn’t really have too much to focus on as we’re so far south – MetService would mainly specialise in cyclones for shipping.

Ului is longer expected to affect New Zealand with the low predicted to track west in to Australia – possibly reaching as far in land as Alice Springs! 

We have a large high over New Zealand which should stop any effects of Ului reaching us here.


Philip Duncan

Guest on 18/03/2010 3:03am

Do you think it will get anywhere near the Gold Coast?

WW Forecast Team on 18/03/2010 3:16am

Not at this stage… we think it will track too far south…it will naturally want to pull southward.  In saying that it is very slow moving and if it suddenly turns westerly then that could change where it will make landfall.

– WeatherWatch

GOD on 18/03/2010 2:05pm

So the bottom line, no one has a clue. wouldn’t it make sense, to have the hole east coast on Eyes open!! Not just where we think it will ravage. I can see some people being caught with there reg grundy’s down around there knee’s. I’m fine here, no need to panic. The TV told me so. There is people out there who don;t really understand, the danger and feel excited about the incoming. If you are one of those people. Please think again, the odds are, loss in all areas and it could be, or happen to us all. Don’t get caught with your reggys down.

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