UPDATE | Feb 12th
And here we go … as forecast, the cyclonic event (now named officially as Cyclone Gita) is taking shape near the Tongan islands just south of Fiji and the forecast has been upgraded.
Updated models show a soon to be Category 5 cyclone headed towards and into the Coral Sea later this week bringing a very significant swell event into the eastern Australian swell window.
The system is likely to turn southeast towards New Zealand as we reported earlier that some models were showing. It will not likely cross the coast in Australia as some early models showed however it will generate extreme swell for the Coral Sea.
Tonga has declared a state of emergency ahead of tonight’s arrival of the storm as it tracks towards a direct hit on Ohonua and ‘Eua – our thoughts are with them all.
EARLIER | Feb 9th
VIDEO: BRACE FOR IMPACT – massive swell event possible for South East Queensland.
A rare and potentially devastating scenario is starting to surface on forecast models showing not one, but two back-to-back cyclones of notable size and strength forecast to hit the Coral Sea and potentially smash the southern Queensland coasts in the middle of February (see video below).
Something like this could be on the cards, or even much, much, bigger // Photo Luke Sorensen
Current forecast modelling shows two significant storms potentially brewing off our coastline later next week and pushing westwards towards South East Queensland. Whilst there is some variance between different modelling systems, all of them predict a cyclonic event which will begin to affect the Queensland coast in the later half of next week.
We stress that these forecasts are likely to be fluid and change and cyclones are notoriously unpredictable, although one model currently shows at least one of the systems smashing into the Queensland coast somewhere between the Brisbane and Rockhampton on or around February 19th. Other modelling shows a more southward trend over New Zealand and the possibility of the major storm glancing into New Zealand’s northern region.
Source | www.metocean.co.nz
This swell event is likely to make last week’s remnant cyclone swell that lit up the beaches and point breaks of the Gold Coast Sunshine Coast look little more that an insignificant taster or entree for this – the deluxe main course of potential back-to-back powerful storm swells, intense wind and concentrated rainfall.
Despite the Gold Coast mayor’s claims that the recent dredging operations along the Gold Coast had protected our beaches from the most recent swell event, significant scouring and sand loss was witnessed at several beaches including at Burleigh.
Big surf washes away beach sand at Burleigh last week / via ABC news
The current forecasts predict sustained swell of up to and exceeding 8 metres just off our coast as the first, more powerful cyclone heads towards land. This can also mean intermittent and rogue waves can be generated at twice that height around the storm’s centre mass.
It is very likely that our beaches will take a battering if these storms follow their predicted paths, although swell is just one factor we may have to contend with.
Also predicted is a significant rain event where the first cyclone crosses the coast and slows down, bringing with it likely flooding and storm surge that will impact property.
Should the system maintain intensity as it hits the coast, extreme winds will also be a factor to consider.
We will be watching these systems as they develop and hoping that we get the conditions to handle the enormous swell and turn on the surf, without the negative side impacts of property damage and beach losses.