Winds, ocean swells pound Queensland coast



Tropical Cyclone Hamish is continuing to generate powerful ocean swells and fierce winds along the southern Queensland coast.

The category 3 storm is about 275 kilometres east of Sandy Cape, near Hervey Bay.

It maintained its intensity overnight but is expected to weaken and move away from the coast today.

It is combining with another weather system, generating four-metre ocean swells and fierce winds of up to 85 kilometres per hour.

Forecaster Tony Wedd says a severe weather warning is current from the Fraser Coast to the Gold Coast.

“That’s due to a combination of a reasonably strong high in the western Tasman Sea and there’s circulation around Cyclone Hamish producing strong to gale-force winds along most of the south-east Queensland coast,” he said.

“That will generate large waves, and surf conditions will be fairly dangerous and as well the tides over the next few days will be higher than normal.”

Search resumes

Meanwhile, the search will resume this morning for two fishermen still missing off the central Queensland coast.

Authorities say they are facing a race against time to find the men from the trawler, the MBC.

The trawler was found yesterday, badly damaged after being caught in rough seas near the eye of cyclone Hamish on Monday.

A third crew member, James Palmer, was rescued yesterday morning.

Last night, a rescue plane with infra-red technology flew from Victoria to central Queensland to join the search.

Its equipment can detect body heat in the ocean.

Tracey Jiggins from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says the search will widen today, involving both private and Defence Force aircraft.

“There will be a minimum of 10 aircraft in the area and they’ll all be briefed this morning and they’ll be given designated areas to search,” she said.

“The search will intensify today simply because we believe that the remaining two survivors are actually in the water, so time is of the essence now.

“We need to have as many resources out there searching as we possibly can.”

Flights diverted

Transport authorities in Brisbane have been monitoring winds generated by the storm system.

Two Virgin Blue flights from Sydney and Melbourne bound for the Sunshine Coast will be diverted to Brisbane Airport today due to high winds.

Airport spokesman Jim Carden says Brisbane’s runways will remain open.

“It has been proven over many years to be able to operate in very high wind conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Port of Brisbane has activated its contingency plan.

Regional harbourmaster Glenn Hale says extra tug boats have been called in and ships are being secured.

“Arrangements are being put in place for extra moorings on the larger vessels,” he said.

Smaller boats have posed the biggest problem, with at least 10 that have broken free from moorings in the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay.


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