The Bureau of Meteorology's cyclone tracking map as at 9pm on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology's cyclone tracking map as at 9pm on Thursday.

Cyclone expected to make land as category 5

UPDATE 2AM:

RESIDENTS are urged to be vigilant on the roads as they wake up this morning, particularly in the areas most likely to be affected by the storm tides around 9.30am in the Agnes area and 10am in Gladstone.

At 2am the Bureau of Meteorology is reporting the category 4 system has winds near the centre of 195km per hour with wind gusts to 270km per hour.

It is currently moving south-southwest at 11km per hour and is still expected to increase to category 5 before making landfall later this morning.

UPDATE 9.20PM: An emergency warning has been issued warning residents in zones 1 and 2 (parts of Gladstone, Boyne Island and Agnes Water) to prepare for flooding.

The Storm Tide watch and act message was issued by the Gladstone Local Disaster Management Group and warns resident are likely to be affected by a storm tide at 10am Friday morning.

The tide is expected to be up to 70cm higher that the highest tide of the year.

Gladstone Regional Council sent a text message to people in the affected areas.

UPDATE 9PM: Tropical Cyclone Marcia has begun moving south-west in the past hour, and is still forecast to be category 5 when it reaches land.

The cyclone is 145km east north-east of Mackay and 265km north of Yeppoon.

It has slowed further, moving west south-west at 9km/h.

The winds near the centre of the system are 195km/h, with gusts up to 270km/h.

It is expected to continue moving in the same direction overnight.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Cyclone Marcia is still expected to reach the most intense category (category 5) before landfall, but it has temporarily stabilised at the stronger end of category 4 in the past few hours.

Heavy rainfall will develop about coastal and island communities between Mackay and Double Island Point tonight, particularly over areas to the south of the system. 

You can keep up to date with the latest warnings overnight here.

That's where we'll leave our live coverage for the night. We'll be back bright and early on Friday morning.

UPDATE 8.30PM: For those of you familiar with the phenomenon of weather, particularly rain, going around Gladstone, here's how the radar is looking at the moment.

But that's expected to change as the night unfolds!

The Bureau of Meteorology weather radar as at 8.30pm on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology weather radar as at 8.30pm on Thursday. Bureau of Meteorology

On a more serious note, 22 people are spending the night at the evacuation centre that has been set up at Gladstone Entertainment Centre.

The people are mainly from the Gladstone Marina.

UPDATE 7.45PM: Ambrose State School will be closed on Friday.

The school is on Gentle Annie Rd at Ambrose.

It joins a long list of schools in the Rockhampton region that will be closed.

Agnes Water Child Care Centre and Discovery Coast Family Day Care also will be closed, along with C&K kindergartens in Gladstone and Biloela.

You can keep up to date with school closures here.

Tropical Cyclone Marcia is continuing to intensify and is becoming slow moving.

It is now 140km north-east of Mackay and 280km north of Yeppoon, moving at 13km/h, with wind gusts up to 270km/h.

A slower moving cyclone increases the risk of flooding.

Transport and Main Roads Queensland has advised its customer service offices in Gladstone and Biloela will be closed on Friday.

UPDATE 7PM: Tropical Cyclone Marcia is now expected to cross the coast as a category 5 cyclone.

The cyclone is 150km east north-east of Mackay and 285km north of Yeppoon, moving at 16km/h.

Winds near the centre of the system are 185km/h, with gusts up to 260km/h.

It is continuing to intensify as it approaches land, and is expected to turn more south-west during the next few hours.

The cyclone's movement has slowed over the past few hours.

The Bureau of Meteorology's weather radar at 7.30pm on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology's weather radar at 7.30pm on Thursday. Bureau of Meteorology

The bureau predicts the cyclone will now cross land at 7am on Friday, near St Lawrence north-west of Rockhampton.

Winds of up to 295km/h are expected at the core.

A category 5 cyclone is extremely dangerous and expected to cause widespread destruction.

Typical gusts over open flat land reach more than 280km/h.

It compares with a category 4-5 hurricane in the United States and a typhoon in the Pacific.

The QFES has advised residents from Bowen to Double Island Point that now is the time to stay indoors and stay safe.

Qantas cancels more flights

Qantas has cancelled its Friday morning flights from Gladstone to Brisbane.

At this stage the earliest scheduled flight out is at 12.40pm, but this is subject to change.

Early morning flights from Brisbane to Gladstone also have been cancelled, with the earliest set to leave at 10.55am.

Virgin Australia has cancelled its 6.45am flight from Gladstone to Brisbane. 

UPDATE 6PM: Tropical Cyclone Marcia has intensified to a category 4 as it continues to approach the Queensland coast.

It has winds near the centre of the system of 165km/h, with gusts up to 230km/h.

It is now 160km east north-east of Mackay and 280km north of Yeppoon, moving west south-west at 19km/h.

The cyclone is expected to turn more south-west during the next few hours, making landfall between Mackay and Gladstone around 6am on Friday.

Gladstone police earlier warned residents to be prepared for wild weather, saying the centre of the cyclone was not the worst part of the storm.

Sgt Wayne Butcher said 50 to 100km away from the eye of the storm was where the most wind and rain usually was.

 

Gales are now beginning to occur about coastal and island communities between Mackay and Double Island Point, south of Hervey Bay.

They are expected to extend north to Bowen later this evening and inland to areas including Blackwater, Moura, Biloela, and Monto overnight and on Friday.

Abnormally high tides will be experienced tonight and on Friday, with water levels expected to rise above the highest tide of the year on the high tide.

Coastal residents are specifically warned of the dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast.

The sea is likely to rise steadily up to a level well above the normal tide, with damaging waves and flooding of some low-lying areas close to the shoreline. 

A category 4 is a severe cyclone that could result in significant roofing loss and structural damage.

Caravans could be destroyed and blown away, and widespread power failures are expected.

A category 4 cyclone's strongest winds are very destructive typical gusts over open flat land of 225-279km/h.

Residents urged to prepare for flooding

Gladstone Regional Council has advised people living in zones one and two of council's flood mapping system to prepare their properties for flooding on the high tide on Friday at 9.30am in the Agnes Water area, and at 10am in the Gladstone area.

The high tide estimate, based on BOM's latest cyclone tracking and tidal predictions, has the high tide reaching 70cm above the year's highest astronomical tide.

Council's online mapping can be accessed via a link on the right side of the home page of its website.

Ergon issues warning about generators

Ergon Energy is cautioning residents who may be affected by power supply interruptions as Cyclone Marcia approaches and crosses the Capricorn coast to ensure they use generators safely.

Incident response team manager Steve Leighton said it was essential residents followed the manufacturer's instructions when using a generator.

"Tragically, during Cyclone Yasi, there was a fatality near Ingham when a young man suffocated by inhaling fumes from his petrol-powered generator," Mr Leighton said.

"Portable generators must only be run outside the house - never inside or in a garage - and well away from open windows, including your neighbours', so deadly exhaust does not enter the home.

"Better still, don't trust your senses to protect you from the carbon monoxide produced by running a generator because this deadly gas is invisible and odourless.

"Use a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which works like a smoke alarm and will sound an alert if carbon monoxide levels become dangerous."

Mr Leighton said generators must not be connected to fixed house wiring or Ergon Energy, equipment because this could send electricity through the switchboard and into Ergon's power lines.

 

UPDATE 5.30PM: Tropical Cyclone Marcia is continuing to intensify as it moves south-west towards the Queensland coast.

The cyclone warning area now extends from Bowen north of Mackay to Double Island Point south of Hervey Bay, and inland to Blackwater, Moura, Biloela and Monto.

Marcia is about 280km north of Yeppoon and 170km east north-east of Mackay, moving at 23km/h.

Winds near the centre of the system are 155km/h, with gusts of up to 220km/h.

It is expected to make landfall between Mackay and Gladstone early on Friday.

Decision on buses to be made early Friday

Buslink Gladstone has advised that a final decision on school bus cancellations will be made at 5am on Friday.

This follows discussions with the education department and Queensland Transport this afternoon.

You can keep up to date via Buslink's Facebook page here.

Aquatic centres closed

Gladstone council has advised that the region's aquatic centres will remain closed until further notice.

Schools still set to open at this stage

The Department of Education has advised that with the advent of Cyclone Marcia, affected community areas should take necessary precautions in preparation for strong winds, heavy rain and associated flooding.

"The safety of students, teachers and community members is the department's highest priority," the department said in a statement.

"During weather events, parents and staff should monitor regular radio reports in affected areas.

"They are also advised to listen to updated weather forecasts and emergency services directives regarding the safety of road travel."

At 5.45pm, no state schools in Gladstone were scheduled to be closed.

You can keep up to date with school closures here.

Emergency services workers are on hand

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services department has advised that swift water rescue technicians have been stationed at locations across Queensland that are likely to be impacted by storm surge, inundation or flash flooding.

Fingerboard Rd at Miriam Vale is a prime spot for people trying to drive through floodwater.

You can check out what happened when the road flooded in December via this video:

More than 150 additional QFES staff and about 4500 Rural Fire Service Queensland volunteers are on standby, ready to be deployed.

Regional Operation Centres across central Queensland have been activated, with staff working to coordinate logistics and preparations for TC Marcia.

And rapid damage assessment teams are ready to respond.

UPDATE 5PM: Just for a bit of fun to lighten the mood, here's a meme posted on The Observer's Facebook page by Mel Smith, in response to panic buying in Gladstone supermarkets.

Mel Smith posted this meme to The Observer's Facebook page, in response to panic buying in Gladstone supermarkets.
Mel Smith posted this meme to The Observer's Facebook page, in response to panic buying in Gladstone supermarkets. Contributed

 

And (not so fun) here's how the Bureau of Meteorology's weather radar is looking at 5pm:

The Bureau of Meteorology's weather radar at 5pm on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology's weather radar at 5pm on Thursday. Bureau of Meteorology

UPDATE 4.30PM: Residents living in tidal, low-lying areas are advised to prepare for flood inundation as Tropical Cyclone Marcia intensifies ahead of a projected landfall between Yeppoon and Sarina.

Gladstone Regional Council advises residents in the most prone areas to prepare for a high tide at 10am on Friday in Gladstone and 9.27am at Agnes Water, which is expected to be 20cm above the highest astronomical tide of the year.

Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers said the projections were based on current Bureau of Meteorology tracking and intensity advice, which could change rapidly.

The Mayor said council was in the process of notifying residents likely to be most affected by the combination of high tides and predicted rainfall of more than 200mm overnight and tomorrow.

She said the areas of greatest risk at this stage were the eastern side of Captain Cook Drive, Agnes Water; Hanson Road Industrial Estate in Gladstone; Wood Street, Barney Point and Island Esplanade, Boyne Island.

Gladstone fuel terminal shuts down

Caltex Australia has advised the final deliveries from the Gladstone terminal have been made.

The terminal will now be shut down until Friday. Other Queensland terminals will be operating, weather permitting.

The company says it has cyclone response plans in place along the coast.

 

UPDATE 4PM: Cyclone Marcia has been upgraded to a category 3, with the bureau saying it is a very dangerous cyclone that is continuing to intensify as it approaches the coast.

It is estimated to be 290km north of Yeppoon, moving at 26km/h.

It has winds near the centre of 155km/h and wind gusts up to 220km/h.

The bureau says the cyclone is continuing to intensify extremely rapidly, and is now forecast to reach category 4 by landfall.

A category 4 is a severe cyclone that could result in significant roofing loss and structural damage.

Caravans could be destroyed and blown away, and widespread power failures are expected.

A category 4 cyclone's strongest winds are very destructive typical gusts over open flat land of 225-279km/h.

Keep an eye on flooding

Gladstone Regional Council has enhanced its preparedness for disaster events by installing flood cameras in flood-prone areas southern areas of the region.

Cameras have been installed at Alligator Flats, east of Miriam Vale, and Essendean Bridge and Hills Road in Baffle Creek, where roads are often closed for extended periods of time during floods.

The images are updated every 15 to 30 minutes, with a time stamp at the bottom of the page indicating the time at which each image was taken.

You can check out the flood cams here.

The scene at Hills Rd at Baffle Creek on Thursday afternoon.
The scene at Hills Rd at Baffle Creek on Thursday afternoon. Gladstone Regional Council

UPDATE 3.45PM: At this stage there is no word about school closures in the Gladstone region.

The decision to open or close schools and other facilities include factors such as current and predicted weather conditions, river and stream levels as well as road and access conditions.

With Cyclone Marcia expected to cross the coast as a category 3 cyclone, here's a reminder of what to expect:

A category 3 is a severe tropical cyclone that may result in some roof and structural damage, and some caravans destroyed.

Power failures are likely.

A category 3 cyclone's strongest winds are very destructive with typical gusts over open flat land of 165-224km/h.

A category 2 cyclone may results in minor house damage and significant damage to signs, trees and caravans. .

There's a risk of power failure, and small craft may break their moorings.

A category 2 cyclone's strongest winds are destructive with typical gusts over open flat land of 125-164km/h. 

And Gladstone Regional Council has just announced Tondoon Botanic Gardens will be closed on Friday.

UPDATE 2.15PM: Tropical Cyclone Marcia has continued to intensify and is now predicted to be a category 3 cyclone as it makes landfall early on Friday.

The cylones reach is now expected to extend to inland areas including Blackwater, Moura, Biloela, and Monto.

It is now 320km north north-east of Yeppoon and 245km east north-east of Mackay, moving at 26km/h.

The Bureau of Meteorology advised the very destructive core of Cyclone Marcia, with gusts to 185km/h, is expected to cross the coast between St Lawrence and Gladstone early on Friday morning.

Destructive winds are expected to develop about coastal and island communities between St Lawrence and Burnett Heads later tonight.

Gales are expected to develop about coastal and island communities between Mackay and Double Island Point this evening, and extend inland to areas including Blackwater, Moura, Biloela, and Monto overnight and Friday morning.

 

University closed

CQUniversity will close its campuses in Gladstone, Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Biloela from 3pm today.

They will remain closed on Friday.

What to expect

Gladstone council's disaster co-ordinator Mark Holmes says 200-300mm of rain is expected based on current modelling.

Speaking on radio station 4CC, he said the heaviest rain would be to the south of the cyclone.

Mr Holmes said Awoonga Dam is full and could reach a level of 41.5m. It was at 40.08m at 1.50pm.

He said we'd have to wait and see regarding any effects downstream of the dam, but major flooding was unlikely because the cyclone system was quite fast moving.

Council's call centre is open 24/7 for people needing help. Phone 4970 0700.

People requiring assistance from the State Emergency Service can phone 132 500.

Bread is disappearing fast

The bakery shelves at Woolworths in The Valley are almost bare, while IGA and U-Save have confirmed they have sold out of bread.

Coles at Tannum Sands has restocked and still has some.

Reader report that Spar at Sun Valley also has run out of bread, but Craigs Bakery on Sunvalley Rd has some.

UPDATE 2PM: The Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre and Agnes Water Community Centre will serve as emergency shelters until Tropical Cyclone Marcia has passed.

Gladstone Regional Council has confirmed the two centres would be open to members of the community requiring shelter, particularly residents and visitors staying in temporary accommodation such as caravans, tents and marine vessels, from 4pm today.

No need for a boat ramp this morning, Nathan Bettridge said. He posted this photo on The Observer's Facebook page.
No need for a boat ramp this morning, Nathan Bettridge said. He posted this photo on The Observer's Facebook page. Contributed
  • Bedding for each household member
  • Clothing for each household member
  • Special dietary foods (non-perishable)
  • Identification (driver's licence, passport, Medicare card)
  • Extra toiletry and sanitary supplies
  • Extra essential medicines and repeat prescription
  • Books and games for children
  • Extra baby formula, food and nappies (if required)
  • Extra money in cash form
  • House keys and car keys
  • Mobile phone along with spare battery and charger
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Any important documents that you may need to preserve
  • Valuables

Pet owners will need to make other arrangements for their pets as animals will not be accepted at the shelters.

No alcohol or drugs will be permitted at the shelters.

Before leaving home, those seeking accommodation at the emergency shelters should:

  • Turn off power gas and water at the mains;
  • Secure your home - close and lock all doors and windows; and
  • Notify family/friends/neighbours/employer/school if applicable that you are going to the emergency centre.

Cr Sellers also advised that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had called to ensure the Gladstone region was fully prepared for Tropical Cyclone Marcia.

"I relayed to her that our Local Disaster Managment Group was in a meeting and my information was that the region was fully prepared," Cr Sellers said.

"The Premier and her Cabinet have met this morning. The Premier offered her support and if we are in need, we only need to call."

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher returned to Gladstone this morning from a three-day induction in Brisbane.

In other news, Gladstone harbour has been closed, and ships have been advised to head out to deeper water. More here.

NASA captured this image of Cyclone Marcia as it bears down on the Queensland coast.
NASA captured this image of Cyclone Marcia as it bears down on the Queensland coast.

UPDATE NOON: Qantas has started cancelling flights between Gladstone and Brisbane.

A Qantas spokeswoman said 16 flights from Gladstone, Rockhampton and Hervey Bay had so far been cancelled.

Qantas is continuing to monitor the weather to determine if more flights will need to be cancelled.

One flight from Brisbane to Gladstone was cancelled this morning.

Virgin Airlines said in a statement it was closely monitoring the impact of Cyclone Marcia, which would affect some services to and from Queensland.

"We are proactively contacting guests to notify them of possible disruptions, and encourage them to continue to monitor our flight status page on the Virgin Australia website."

Gladstone Police sergeant Wayne Butcher has said Gladstone will be hit hard when Cyclone Marcia crosses the coast, because the worst part of the storm is 50 to 100km from the centre. More here.

Gladstone Harbour is expected to close later today, with no ships allowed in.

Gladstone council has close Workmans Beach and Calliope River camping area. 

Gladstone Mudcrabs have cancelled training tonight.

UPDATE 11AM: Cyclone Marcia has been upgraded to a category 2 system which is still on track to cross the Capricorn coast early on Friday.

The cyclone has winds near the centre of 95km/h with wind gusts up to 130km/h.

It is estimated to be 385km north north-east of Yeppoon and 555km north of Bundaberg, moving at 23km/h.

The cyclone is expected to maintain this general motion through to landfall.

The Bureau of Meteorology's tracking map for Tropical Cyclone Marcia, as at 11am on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology's tracking map for Tropical Cyclone Marcia, as at 11am on Thursday. Bureau of Meteorology

Destructive winds of up to 150km/h may develop about the coast and islands near the centre of the cyclone on Friday morning.

Gales are expected to develop about coastal and island communities between Mackay and Double Island Point, south of Hervey Bay, and adjacent inland areas from Mackay to Monto, during today in the late afternoon or evening.

Gladstone Regional Council has advised that Boyne Tannum SES is running low on sandbags and sand, but is expecting to receive more at 2pm today.

The council asks that people be mindful of others living in low-lying areas when requesting these materials. 

Sandbags and sand are available at local SES offices at Agnes Water (4974 9330), Baffle Creek (4156 6455), Calliope (4975 7585), Gladstone (4979 1122), Miriam Vale (4974 5388), Mount Larcom (4975 1344), Rosedale (4156 5265) and Boyne Tannum (4973 7399).

Buslink has advised that at this stage all buses will be running as normal this afternoon.

It is still anticipated that outlying areas of Calliope may still be affected by road closures because of rain.

A decision on bus services for Friday will be made in conjunction with schools this afternoon.

A final decision on bus services will be announced at 5pm.

UPDATE 9.30AM: Bechtel has just announced that ferries have been scheduled to return local workers from Curtis Island to the mainland.

General manager Gladstone Kevin Berg said leadership teams within each project were meeting regularly to discuss ongoing plans, which included the management of the workforce and camp-based residents, harbour movements and ferries.

>> Share your weather stories and photos with us

Meanwhile, lifeguards have closed Agnes Water and Kellys Beach due to dangerous surf conditions.

John Cook

Gladstone received 21mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am this morning, with 30mm at Boyne Island, 46mm at Benaraby, 37mm at Awoonga Dam and 50mm at Iveragh.

Bureau of Meteorology duty observer Benj Blunt said over the next few days central Queensland could expect between 50-200mm of rain, with falls of 300mm or more confined to the south of Gladstone.

Experienced CQ weather forecaster Mike Griffin said the tropical low system was quite unpredictable, making it hard to read.

"It's not consistent," Mr Griffin said. "The modelling guidance is not as good as we'd like it to be.

"It's an unusual and tough situation. At 10am yesterday morning it was 1000km east of Cairns and 24 hours later it is going to be approximately 800km east of Ingham.

"By late today it will be east of the Percy Islands and at last update, by Friday morning it could be somewhere near Corio Bay.

"The spread is as far as 100km either way."

Meanwhile, supermarket shelves across Gladstone are starting to empty out. More here.

UPDATE 8AM: Tropical Cyclone Marcia has now moved to 450km north north-east of Yeppoon and 600km north of Bundaberg.

It will soon be in range of the Bureau of Meteorology's weather radar.

The cyclone is moving south-west at 27km/h, with winds near the centre at 85km/h, and wind gusts to 120km/h. 

It is still expected to cross the coast as a category 2 cyclone, early on Friday morning.

Inland areas from Mackay to Monto are expected to be impacted by the cyclone.

The Bureau of Meteorology's tracking map for Tropical Cyclone Marcia, as at 8am on Thursday.
The Bureau of Meteorology's tracking map for Tropical Cyclone Marcia, as at 8am on Thursday. Bureau of Meteorology

6AM: The low pressure system moving towards Queensland has now been classified as a cyclone. It's expected to cross the coast north of Yeppoon as a category two cyclone.

The Bureau of Meteorology reports Tropical Cyclone Marcia is moving quickly through the Coral Sea towards the coast.

Its recent movement has been to the southwest, and it is expected to maintain this general motion through to landfall early on Friday.

The cyclone is expected to slowly intensify, with the possibility of reaching category 2 intensity by landfall.

It is currently located 510km north-east of Yeppoon, with winds near the centre of 75km/h and wind gusts of up to 100km/h.

It is moving at 32km/h.

The tropical cyclone warning zone extends from Mackay to Double Island Point, which is south of Hervey Bay.

Gales are expected to develop in the Gladstone region on Thursday morning, reaching speeds of around 60km/h.

By 6pm, wind speeds are expected to reach up to 90km/h, and will be accompanied by dangerous thunderstorms that form part of Cyclone Marcia.

Destructive wind gusts to 150km/h may develop near the centre of Tropical Cyclone Marcia on Friday morning.

The bureau advises heavy rainfall will develop about coastal and island communities in the warning area, particularly over areas to the south of the system.

A flood watch is current for the Gladstone region.

Catchments at risk within the flood watch area include the Dawson, Calliope, Boyne, Baffle and Kolan Rivers.



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