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Cyclone Seth to whip up gale-force winds as it tracks south along Queensland coast, BOM warns

By Melinda Howells, Jacqui Street and Rebecca Hyam, , Saturday January 1, 2022 - 12:30 AEDT
ABC image
More than a dozen beaches are closed on the Sunshine Coast due to the worsening swell. - ABC

Large swells and dangerous surf conditions are expected along the south-east Queensland coast and throughout the long weekend as Tropical Cyclone Seth tracks south.

The cyclone was downgraded from category 2 to category 1 on Saturday morning, producing wind gusts of up to 85 kilometres per hour.

On Saturday morning, it was about 640 kilometres east-north-east of Yeppoon and was tracking east-south-east at about 14kph.

It was expected to strengthen again overnight, but slow down and weaken on Sunday and Monday as it heads further south.

The Bureau of Meteorology said while the system was not likely to cross the coastline in the next 48 hours, it would create "astronomically" high tides, large waves and dangerous conditions over the long weekend and into early next week.

Hazardous surf conditions are expected to develop this afternoon and evening about the Fraser Island Coast and Sunshine Coast Waters, extending to the Gold Coast Waters on Sunday.

Some southern Gold Coast beaches have already been closed and conditions are likely to persist into early next week.

"The main concern for Queensland with this system as it stands at the moment is the hazardous surf through the south-east Queensland coastline," duty forecaster Rohan Smyth said.

"There is a very strong easterly swell that's been whipped up by this system."

Mr Smyth said strong winds were forecast for Saturday through south-east coastal districts, and those would intensify in the coming days.

"As we move into Sunday and Monday, gale-force winds through the coastal water districts are expected," he said.

"If you're going to get out and about, definitely look at the warnings."

On the Sunshine Coast and Gympie regions, 14 beaches had been closed.

Lifesaving Service Coordinator for the Sunshine Coast Shane Urban, described conditions as "a bit ugly".

He said many Sunshine Coast beaches had "washing machine conditions" and however some beaches remained open, including Mooloolaba, Noosa and Bribie Island, where volunteer life savers would be keeping a close eye on conditions.

"Not only do we have waves, we have these sweeps which move along the beach, and cause the issue of people getting swept outside the flags," Mr Urban said.

Fisheries Queensland Shark Control Program Operations Coordinator Sam Fary said shark nets had been removed from Gold Coast beaches, but drum lines remain in the water.

"A significant weather event is predicted to affect Gold Coast beaches late Sunday into early next week with winds predicted to be in excess of 35 knots, with 4.5 metres of swell," Mr Fary said.

"We will keep a close eye on the weather and teams are ready to respond to re-install the gear, or check gear that couldn't be removed, when the weather conditions allow."

Kite surfer Simon Jeaffreson said despite the dangerous conditions for many water users, he felt the conditions at Maroochydore Beach were perfect for kite surfing.

"The swell's big, you wouldn't want to go swimming out there, there's lots of current but we're out of the water most of the time, we've got kites to keep us out of trouble," he said.

"It's actually safe, safer than surfing," he explained.

Alongside the dangerous surf, it's been a wet start to the year.

Northern parts of the Darling Downs got over 100mm in a short duration overnight and north-west of Brisbane got 60mm in an hour on Saturday morning.


© ABC 2022

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