Warnings over 244km/h winds in ‘destructive’ cyclone
CYCLONE Oma is powering up and could make landfall this weekend, forecasters have warned.
If it does, the system would bring "destructive and damaging" winds to Brisbane and southeast Queensland.
Even if it doesn't smash the state with a direct hit, people are being warned to take extra care near water with huge swells almost a certainty along with possible coastal erosion.
The swell has already seen its first casualty - a utility vehicle, whose owner was forced to abandon it, was dragged out to sea and pounded with waves on the Sunshine Coast today.
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 three cyclone.
According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), category 3 cyclones are "very destructive" with typical gusts over open flat land of 165 - 224km/h.
Initially, 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 on Tuesday.
But it increasingly appears it could then head towards the west on a collision course with Australia.
"It could be over south east Queensland coast at the weekend."
That's the conclusion of Europe's EC weather modelling. But a number of other global meteorological associations have made a punt it will change direction as it heads towards Australia, which mean it could avoid landfall.
"The most likely scenario at this point is that Oma will stay offshore," Mr Saunders said.
"But we cannot rule out a coastal crossing this weekend and if that happens it means heavy rain for the southern Queensland coast and Brisbane.
"It could bring damaging to destructive winds and the swell will be huge whether or not it hits the coast."
Mr Saunders said the large swell was because a cyclone can have a significant effect on water conditions even if it remains far from the coast.
The BOM has issued a severe weather warning for 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 covers 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 have 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.