Council issues storm surge emergency alert for Midge Point

UPDATE 11.48am Monday: 

MACKAY Regional Council has issued an emergency alert for a storm surge for the Midge Point area. 

The council issued the storm tide warning which may impact the Green, Red, Orange and Yellow zones on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. 

A release from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has advised to act and evacuate now. 

"Check the Mackay Regional Council Facebook page and listen to radio for further information or phone 07 4951 2466," the release state. 

EALIER 3.30PM Sunday: THE storm surge set to follow Tropical Cyclone Debbie is of "biggest concern" to Mackay's emergency services, given its predicted to hit right on high tide.

At 12.30pm Sunday the region's Local Disaster Management Group was "stood up" and emergency service leaders planned how it would cope with the impending cyclone.

Currently the Category 2 cyclone is expected to hit between Ayr and Proserpine as a Category 4 with up to 260kmhr winds at 10am Tuesday.

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If the cyclone continued on its current path it was expected storm surge at Mackay would be 0.3m, while Midge Point would see 0.6m.

But given the cyclone could still swing south, putting Mackay in the eye of the storm, Mackay Regional Council emergency management coordinator Anthony Lee urged to plan for the worst case scenario.

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Mackay regions at highest risk of storm tide flooding and evacuation.
Mackay regions at highest risk of storm tide flooding and evacuation.

 

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Cyclone Debbie storm surge: The latest information on the expected storm surge from Cyclone Debbie.
Cyclone Debbie storm surge: The latest information on the expected storm surge from Cyclone Debbie.

Mr Lee said if the storm hit Mackay it could draw a storm surge of 1.8m, which would coincide with the 5.9m high tide.

Up to 25,500 Mackay residents would then be forced to evacuate.

At Midge Point, it could bring a storm surge of 4.7m, which would force the 300 residents to evacuate.

As Mr Lee said "there's quite a scope there".

Mackay regions at highest risk of storm tide flooding and evacuation.
Mackay regions at highest risk of storm tide flooding and evacuation.

Mayor Greg Williamson then sent a message to residents, urging them to put together a plan for their homes, businesses and pets, and to listen intently for further instructions.

"We're going to be very, very wet over the next couple of days and that brings with it a whole lot of problems too," Cr Williamson said.

"There's a storm surge associated with any cyclone and the closer it gets to us the more likelihood of a destructive storm surge will be for our area.

"You need to pack, you need to be prepared with a household plan, a business plan and even a pet plan. You now need to listen very, very intently... to make sure you're completely aware of what's going on with this cyclone."

King tide and storm surge
King tide and storm surge

Queensland Police Service's Anthony Cowan said police would door knock areas that needed to be evacuated.

Residents would need to follow directions calmly and be prepared to leave.

The SES's Selina Neill said they had about 40 requests for sand bags since Sunday morning.

However she urged able-bodied residents to come to designate council depos to fill their own sand bags so it could give priority to elderly or disabled residents.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service inspector Russell Collier urged residents also to be mindful of their actions after the cyclone.

"People have a tendency to go outside straight away and start to look around. Don't do that, if you have no need to go out, stay at home," he said.

"People need to be aware their are dangers outside of the cyclone itself."

Mackay's Local Disaster Management Group will meet again on Monday at 9am.

This is when they will start deciding where residents will be evacuated to, if that was necessary.

To see if your home is at risk from a storm surge see here.

Tide times Mackay:

Sunday: 3.33am (0.86m), 9:37am (5.79m) 4:08pm (0.71m) and 10:01pm (5.39m).

Monday: 4.15am (0.66m), 10.15am (5.92m), 4.45pm (0.53m) and 10:39pm (5.62m).

Tuesday: 4.56am (0.55m), 10.54am (5.93m), 5:22pm (0.53m) and 11:20pm (5.76m).

UPDATE, Sunday 12.22pm: Cyclone Debbie has slowed making the associated storm surge potentially more destructive.

On Saturday the cyclone was predicted to make landfall at 4am near Ayr, which would have been low tide.

But the latest forecast is for it to cross the coast about 10am on Tuesday if it stays on track.

High tide at Mackay Outer Harbour at 10.54am Tuesday will be 5.93m. At Airlie Beach high tide is at 10.40am Tuesday.

Seaside community Midge Point knows all too well the impact a cyclone can have after being right in the path of Cyclone Louie in 2010, and residents are preparing to be hit again.

 

Cyclone Debbie as it moves across the Coral Sea over the North Queensland coast.
Cyclone Debbie as it moves across the Coral Sea over the North Queensland coast. Weatherzone Forums

Midge Point Progress Association president Navio Zeglio said the cyclone could hit at the "worst time for us".

He said when Cyclone Louie hit it was not a high tide, but the 2m-plus storm surge brought sea water to the front door of homes.

"It's the worst time for us. Louis brought pumice stone to the edge of the fences of the first row of houses," he said.

"There is also a developing storm cell out there that is likely to hit us before the cyclone."

He said residents in the seaside town were busy with preparations, including cleaning up yards and stocking up with supplies.

The association made headlines last year after erosion mitigation work it did to save the beach was deemed illegal, and the State Government threatened to fine the group.

Mr Zeglio said the erosion mitigation in place now would not hold up in a cyclone.

"What we have done now isn't sufficient in a cyclone. It holds the sand there for tidal impacts and rough weather," he said.

UPDATE 2.11pm: Surfers will be making the most of the swell whipped up by Cyclone Debbie of the coast.

Several surfers were at Lamberts Beach this morning about more are expected after 3pm on Saturday and in the morning Sunday with increasing swell and lower tides making for perfect surf conditions.

"I have surfed here all my life and its going to be the biggest I've seen it," one surfer said at Lamberts Beach.

 

Wind starts whipping up waves at Lamberts Beach pounding the headland
Wind starts whipping up waves at Lamberts Beach pounding the headland Troy Kippen

Surfer should be seen around protected areas tomorrow at North Wall and Dolphin Heads.

The swell is expected to increase to 3.1m this afternoon and slightly higher on Sunday morning as the cyclone approaches the coast.

The rough conditions and south east wind is causing waves to pound the beach on Saturday, and foam has started building up at exposed beaches.

 

Dog waits on the edge of the beach while its owner goes for a surf
Dog waits on the edge of the beach while its owner goes for a surf Troy Kippen

INITIAL: Cyclone Debbie will cross the coast at the prefect time.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Cyclone Debbie which formed on Saturday morning is expected to make landfall about 4am on Tuesday if it continues on track.

It will be close to low tide (3.28am) in Bowen at the time it crosses the coast, with high time not until 9.42am. The low tide will help to reduce the impact of any storm surge associated with Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

One of the biggest dangers in a cyclone is the storm surge.

The surge is caused by the strong winds spiralling into a cyclone and the low pressure causing a water 'dome' in the trail of the cyclone.

The bureau has warned that as the cyclone approaches there are expected to be 'abnormally high tides' between at least Lucinda and Mackay as the cyclone approaches the coast.

Large waves may also develop along the beach front.

Tide times Mackay:

Sunday: 3.33am (0.86m), 9:37am (5.79m) 4:08pm (0.71m) and 10:01pm (5.39m).

Monday: 4.15am (0.66m), 10.15am (5.92m), 4.45pm (0.53m) and 10:39pm (5.62m).

Tuesday: 4.56am (0.55m), 10.54am (5.93m), 5:22pm (0.53m) and 11:20pm (5.76m).