An East Coast Low off the QLD coast
An East Coast Low off the QLD coast

By Claire

The week of wild weather began when an intense storm system known as an “east coast low”* formed off the Queensland coast. South-eastern QLD and northern NSW are still recovering from intense rainfall associated with  ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, with water logged soil and catchments full to the brim. Additional rainfall in these areas lead to flash flooding as the area struggled to cope with all the water.

Part of the Midtown Marina at Bundaberg washed away after the river bank collapsed due to heavy rain. Picture: Jan Douglas
Part of the Midtown Marina at Bundaberg washed away after the river bank collapsed due to heavy rain. Picture: Jan Douglas

Bundaberg, north of Brisbane was hit hard by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, suffering its worst ever flood at the end of January. Additional rainfall brought by the east coast low system lead to the formation of a sinkhole on the banks of the Burnett River, which caused a marina to disappear into the river.

Dangerous surf conditions on the Gold Coast has caused extensive coastal erosion along many beaches in the area, with extreme weather predicted for southeast QLD to continue over the next few days.

Surfers Paradise Beach has suffered major erosion after the coastline has again been hammered by large swells. Picture: Adam Head Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
Surfers Paradise Beach has suffered major erosion after the coastline has again been hammered by large swells. Picture: Adam Head Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

And as if Bundaberg hadn’t experienced enough excitement for one week, up to six water spouts formed offshore yesterday sparking fears that tornadoes may form in the region today.

Speaking of tornadoes, early this morning, a “mini-tornado” moved through the coastal town of Kiama, ripping roofs off buildings and severely damaging up to 75 homes in the area and tearing off the roof of the Kiama Fire Station. The Bureau of Meteorology recorded wind gusts up to 82kph at 3am this morning.

Damage to a waterfront property at Neutral Bay. Photo: Ben Rushton
Damage to a waterfront property at Neutral Bay. Photo: Ben Rushton

A second severe storm cell, also being called a “mini-tornado”, hit parts of Sydney overnight, causing similar scenes of destruction. Wind gusts up to 135kph were recorded in this system, ripping roofs off houses and local businesses, including Fox Studios.

Tropical Cyclone Rusty's forecast path
Tropical Cyclone Rusty’s forecast path

And finally (for now) Tropical Cyclone Rusty has formed off the northwest coast of Western Australia. At the moment, TC Rusty is classed as a category two cyclone, however, The Bureau is predicting that this cyclone will intensify before making landfall in the Port Headland region later this week.

“Rusty is a large tropical cyclone and its slow movement is likely to result in higher than usual rainfall in the Pilbara and western Kimberley. Very heavy rainfall is expected in near coastal parts of the eastern Pilbara and western Kimberley on Monday. During Tuesday and Wednesday widespread very heavy rainfall is likely to lead to major flooding in the De Grey catchment. Significant flooding in the Fortescue catchment and in Pilbara coastal streams is also likely.” (from BOM)

*An east coast low is similar to a tropical cyclone, however, it is fuelled by temperature gradients in the atmosphere, rather than warm tropical waters. In addition, east coast lows do not rotate and so do not produce winds of the same intensity as those found near a tropical cyclone. The most famous east coast low occurred in June 2007 near Newcastle, and caused the container ship the Pasha Bulker to run aground.