Cyclone Oma to wreak havoc with 500mm of rain, 90km/h winds
AS Cyclone Oma bears down on Queensland's southeast coast, forecasters warn of extreme weather to come with damaging winds gusting to 90km/h by Friday and 24-hour rainfall totals on Saturday that could reach 500mm.
And the question now being asked is will the extreme weather system smashing into the coast and then quickly fading be a better option than having it linger off shore for several days constantly dumping large quantities of rain accompanied by damaging winds on heavily-populated, beachside communities.
Cyclone Oma was now a Category 3 system with sustained winds near the centre of 130km/h with wind gusts to 185km/h.
This morning it was 1140km north-east of Brisbane moving south-west at 10km/h.
Abnormally high tides were expected along the southern Queensland coast in the next few days.
Seas and swell would increase significantly ahead of the system increasing from 1.5-2m to 2.5-4m on Thursday.
By Friday a 3-4m easterly swell will combine with south-easterly swell from 4-7m off shore.
The Bureau of Meteorology has warned Oma could hit anywhere from Gladstone to Brisbane though current track maps show it hooking directly in on the Sunshine Coast.
If the system makes landfall above the Sunshine Coast heavy rain on its southern flank may lead to flash floods.
Forecaster Adam Blazak said a ridge building to the east of Cyclone Oma was pushing it west towards the coast.
"Ideally it would be good for it to run across the coast and put an end to it," Mr Blazak said.
He said if it lingered off the coast it would hang around for several days producing rainfall totals of 300mm in a day with falls 500mm possible.
Those high totals would not be widespread. However the worst of it would see a series of rain-laden storms run over the one location for a number of hours.
Mr Blazak said where the system came ashore would determine the level of damage sustained.
"There are big tides and there will be big, powerful swell that causes plenty of erosion," he said.
Weather models were now aligned in agreeing the system would push towards the coast but Mr Blazak said there remained uncertainty about what would happen across the weekend.
The BOM remained on 24-hour full alert.
Mr Blazak urged residents to keep up-to-date with forecasts which could change.
He said coastal wind damage would occur as winds on Friday gusted to 90km/h.
"Beyond Friday it's wait and see," Mr Blazak said.
"It will linger off the coast or cross ashore."