4m swells to hit Gladstone, bureau says

TWO tropical lows brewing in the Coral Sea in Queensland's north will produce four-metre waves and 25 knot winds in the Gladstone region, if Bureau of Meteorology forecasts prove correct.

The bureau issued a strong wind warning yesterday morning, adding, "there is some potential for one or both of them [lows] to reach tropical strength".

Meteorologists warned Queenslanders living along the coast to expect winds to reach above 25 knots, or just over 40kmh. Today's warning, however, only applies to the Capricornia Coast, which includes Gladstone, and the Mackay coast.

But bureau meteorologist Gordon Banks reassured Queenslanders that even if it does develop into a full-blown cyclone, it's likely to drift away from the coast.

Still, it could wreak some havoc along the coastline, bringing big north-easterly swells.

Mr Banks said while large boats should hold through the wind, "the main concern is for people in small boats".

Boating expert Darryl Branthwaite said any boat under 20-30m would struggle to overcome winds more than 15 knots, or 25kmh.

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"Good for surfing. Good for the kiteboards - even sailors would find it interesting in this wind," he said.

"I'm a yachty from way back. It's not something you head out in and enjoy."

Mr Branthwaite, who has lived in the region for more than 30 years, said the winds and swell fit a yearly pattern where a "tropical monsoonal trough that hangs around at this time".

While the bureau expects winds to ease to 15 knots this afternoon, Mr Branthwaite said it's not uncommon for these kinds of gale force winds to last two to three weeks.

He also said the swell would likely exceed the bureau's forecast of four metres, saying, "you can probably add another metre to that with chop".

He said conditions would worsen as the tide heads out today, as the low that is "sucking a lot of this air" north would rub against a falling tide heading south to "produce a very rough sea state".



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