Dangerous surf and abnormally high tides have closed popular beaches as Tropical Cyclone Seth dominates off Australia’s eastern coast.
Forecasters say heavy rain may lash south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales this week, with Seth churning about 700km to the north-east of Brisbane on Sunday afternoon.
“There is quite a large stretch of easterly winds to the south of the system and that’s driving quite a bit of swell and wave action onto the Queensland coast as well as parts of the northern river coast of NSW,” Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Jackson Browne said.
“We’ve seen water levels over 30cm above what would normally be possible with the tide and we have also seen some minor nuisance flooding.”
The category one system is expected to weaken as it moves toward the coast, but will remain capable of creating hazardous conditions.
“We do have a severe weather warning out for abnormally high tides stretching from the Byron and Coffs coast in NSW up to the Fraser Coast in Queensland,” Browne said.
Heavy rainfall is expected along the coast on Thursday and Friday in the cyclone’s wake.
“The guidance is very splintered as to where it may possibly go – anywhere from Bundaberg down to around the Gold Coast,” he said.
Queensland police Assistant Commissioner Shane Chelepy says like all cyclones, Seth is unpredictable and being monitored closely.
“What we are expecting to see is very high tides on the coast in our low-lying areas, potentially some flooding as a result of those high tides, and some severe weather action on the coast with respect to waves and damaging surf,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Sunday.
“It is really important that anybody going to the coast today and over the next couple of days is very mindful that there will be significant surf on the coast, damaging waves, and some very high tides which will cause rips along the coast and some local flooding.”
Seth was downgraded from category two to a category one on Saturday.
BoM has issued a severe weather warning from Wide Bay to the south-east coast with high tides expected to reach an “astronomical peak” over the next few days, easing on Wednesday.
Areas that may be affected include Gold Coast, Maroochydore, Coolangatta, Moreton Island, Noosa Heads, Caloundra, North Stradbroke Island, Rainbow Beach and Redcliffe.