Cyclone Ului's eerie link to Larry
A CATEGORY 4 cyclone is stalking the Queensland coast just days before the fourth anniversary of cyclone Larry, but forecasters are not panicking.
Expected to reintensify into a category 5 storm some time this morning, cyclone Ului is tipped to be hovering off the coast south of Mackay by March 20 - the same date that cyclone Larry hit Innisfail in 2006.
Emergency Management Queensland regional director Wayne Hepple said four EMQ volunteers, flown out to assist residents in the flood-ravaged town of St George, are expected back in Cairns in the next few days, and will be ready if Ului makes landfall in the region.
Weather bureau forecaster Bill O'Connor said he believed the storm would continue to track west before being captured by an upper-level trough sometime today, pushing the system south.
"It is quite a significant cyclone but no one on the Queensland coast should feel threatened for at least the next three days," Mr O'Connor said.
"If Plan A is pulled off we expect it to be captured when it is still about 500km off the coast and if that happens then we can expect the weather here will be fine on the weekend with some fresh winds - but it is a bit of a waiting game."
Yesterday afternoon, the category 4 system was 1400km northeast of Mackay but was expected to reintensify into a category 5 storm by 4am today.
A strong wind warning for the Queensland coast is expected to remain until at least mid-week with offshore gales expected as Ului drifts closer.
"We can also expect to see more isolated coastal showers throughout the week, but very little will penetrate into the Tableland," Mr O'Connor said.
Yesterday, Rennell and nearby Bellona Island experienced winds of up to 116km/h as Ului passed through the Solomon Islands.
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On the radar: Cyclone Ului's predicted path. Source: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu