Friday, March 19, 2010

Ului Weakens As It Approaches Coast

A weaker, fast-moving storm should do less damage:
CYCLONE Ului has been downgraded to category two with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting it is unlikely the system will intensify.

Speaking outside an emergency disaster management meeting Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said Cyclone Uliui is expected to travel quickly across the coast towards Mackay early on Sunday.

He said the cyclone is likely to develop into a large rain depression bringing heavy falls. Emergency crew are preparing for high winds and flooding as well as 200-300mm of rain to some areas.

..."It now appears unlikely that the cyclone will reintensify", the statement said.

It said the most likely scenario was for it to cross the north Queensland coast on Sunday morning between Cardwell and Mackay - with the storm possibly remaining a category two when it hits land.

Earlier today, Tony Wedd from the Bureau of Meteorology's Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre said on current tracking Ului was likely to turn south-west today and accelerate towards the coast.

``The most likely scenario is for the cyclone to cross the coast Sunday morning between Cardwell and Mackay and you'll see on our tracking map, we're expecting it to hit Proserpine,'' Mr Wedd said.

Whitsunday resorts have been evacuated, reef trips closed and flights cancelled as the tourist mecca battens down ahead of the cyclone .

...In Mackay, Mayor Col Meng said a full disaster management meeting was planned for 2pm Friday.

The Pioneer River, which snakes through the centre of the north Queensland city, poses a potential flood risk under a cyclonic deluge on the already saturated catchment area.

Luxury boat owners in the Mackay marina spent the morning lashing down boats as old salts warned to “get ready for a big blow’’

...Ului has been tipped to dump about 200mm of rain on the northern central coast, decreasing to 100mm inland north of Longreach.

``The heavy rain should be further north than anything else we've had,'' Mr Wedd said.

``It should miss the southern Queensland areas that were flooded.''

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