Cyclone Oma is tracking towards the Sunshine Coast.
Cyclone Oma is tracking towards the Sunshine Coast.

Cyclone's sudden lurch towards major cities

CYCLONE Oma is powering up and could make landfall this weekend bringing "destructive and damaging" winds, huge swells and heavy rain to Brisbane and south-east Queensland, forecasters have warned.

Even if the destructive system does not smash the state with a direct hit, people are being warned to take extra care near water with huge swells, strong winds and possible coastal erosion.

Cyclone Oma is expected to get very close to the east coast of Queensland at some point over the weekend, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).

The category 3 system is currently to the west of New Caledonia. As it makes its way south west it is about to enter the "Australian area of responsibility", according to BoM meteorologist Jonathan How.

Forecasters had earlier played down the threat of the cyclone but its sudden change of direction has amplified the risk.

The latest Bureau of Meteorology track map shows Cyclone Oma bearing down directly onto the Sunshine Coast after a ridge to its east has pushed it west towards south east Queensland.
The latest Bureau of Meteorology track map shows Cyclone Oma bearing down directly onto the Sunshine Coast after a ridge to its east has pushed it west towards south east Queensland.

Mr How told the "high-impact weather" was expected to lash Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast this Saturday and Sunday.

He said residents of the affected areas could expected "very heavy rainfall, gale force winds and storm surges," and these conditions could possibly cause flooding.

Queensland has not seen cyclonic conditions like this for some time, so Mr How said it was unclear how severe the effect of Cyclone Oma could be.

He said the Bureau may today issue a cyclone watch warning for Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast as they expect conditions will begin to deteriorate.

Before the cyclone reaches the Australian coast, large stretches of Queensland and NSW will be battered with strong, dangerous swells and easterly systems.

Currently a hazardous surf warning extends from Coffs Harbour on the mid north coast in NSW right through to the Capricornia Coast in central Queensland.

According to the Bureau these damaging swells will continue until the system gets closer to land over the weekend.

New forecasting images released this morning from the BoM shows the predicted path of Cyclone Oma.

The modelling says that while there remains "uncertainty associated with tropical cyclone forecasting", it shows "the range of likely tracks of the cyclone centre".

The path shows the BoM's modelling for the cyclone's centre and its large destructive boundary, where high destructive winds will circulate.

"Due to the uncertainty in the future movement, the indicated winds will almost certainly extend to regions outside the rings on this map," the BOM website advises.

Oma is currently swirling north of New Caledonia, with the Fiji Metrological Service - whose area of responsibility it currently lies in - upgrading the system to a category 3 cyclone.

According to BoM, category 3 cyclones are "very destructive" with typical gusts over open flat land of 165-224km/h.

Oma is expected to track across the northern part of New Caledonia. Where it goes then depends on which weather model prevails.

"All models agree with it going south west over the next few days," Sky News Weather channel meteorologist Tom Saunders said yesterday.

The BoM warned of hazardous surf from Tuesday onwards. It said swimmers should consider staying clear of the water and those rock fishing should avoid exposed coastal platforms.

Boaters should take extra care on the water and ensure they have appropriate safety equipment.

The weather warning covered the Capricornia Coast, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island Coast and waters around the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Gold Coast.

On the Sunshine Coast, a ute ended up waging a battle with the swell - and losing.

Rainbow Beach Towing, which operates around the tourist hotspot of Fraser Island, posted a video to its Facebook page this morning showing the embattled truck being battered by waves.

The driver was forced to abandoned the truck to the elements.

Surf lifesavers closed Surfers Paradise Beach due to strong currents and urged people not to enter the water.

Strong winds, rain and three- to four-metre waves are forecast towards the end of the week as Oma moves southwest.

Whatever direction Oma heads in, the winds associated with it should cool the Queensland coast.

The state is current enduring a heatwave - Brisbane is now entering its 40th day with a maximum high of more than 30C.