SES IN ACTION: Natasha Lobban on the shovel, Deanne Reeves, Tim Isted, also shoveling and Byron Walton preparing sandbags.
SES IN ACTION: Natasha Lobban on the shovel, Deanne Reeves, Tim Isted, also shoveling and Byron Walton preparing sandbags. Brian Cassidy

BUNDY PREPARED: BoM revises wild weekend forecast

UNSTABLE weather conditions have the Bundaberg region gearing up for a wild weekend with threats of heavy rainfall and flash-flooding.

At noon, The Bureau of Meteorology reduced its original Sunday forecast from a maximum 200mm downpour to 60mm after results of the systems predicting Cyclone Owen's movements changed dramatically.

BoM meteorologist David Crock had warned of the potential change this morning, after the tropical cyclone had lingered in the Northern Territory for longer than expected yesterday.

The original figure was influenced by Cyclone Owen's predicted journey south along the east coast, but the region could still cop more than 100mm of rain over a three-day period.

He said multiple runs of BoM's atmospheric models over the past 24 hours had revealed drastic changes to the cyclone's predicted movements compared to previous results that had remained consistent over a number of days, assuring the cyclone would move south.

 

Sunday's predicted rain forecast for Queensland.
Sunday's predicted rain forecast for Queensland. Bureau of Meteorology

"(Cyclones are) very fickle things to forecast, and this one is certainly living up to that," Mr Crock said.

He said Cyclone Owen was likely to cross the coast tomorrow morning and "then decay into a tropical low" and said that until yesterday, they expected it "to track down much of the east coast, so that's why there's a lot of really high rainfall totals".

"There is still a chance that it will do that and bring a lot of rain to Bundaberg and areas around there, but there's also a chance that heavy rain could stay up near Cairns and not really impact the east coast further south," Mr Crock said.

"It will still be a pretty stormy weekend, so there's a lot of moisture around and a lot of instability in the atmosphere - there will be showers and storms around, it's just whether or not that really heavy rainfall makes its way south or if it stays a bit further north."

Flood watches were put in place this afternoon for catchments from the Gulf of Carpentaria all the way down to Rainbow Beach, which would encompass our region.

Mr Crock said there was "a lot of uncertainty in the forecast at the moment, which is pretty frustrating" but there could still be severe storms with heavy rainfall and the potential of flash-flooding.

Just over a week since the region battled raging bushfires, the community has begun making preparations for the wild weather.

SES Bundaberg Unit Local Controller Kieran Galey said the team has spent the day checking gear and helping the community brace for the potential storms.

"We have crews out in the field that are currently running sandbags around, dropping them off to residents that require them," he said.

"We're going through making sure all our equipment is operationally ready - our boats are on standby in case of any potential flooding.

"We've also made sure that all our chainsaws, pulse saws and any of that sort of equipment is ready to go just in case it's required for any of the strong winds."

 

Natasha Lobban on the shovel, Deanne Reeves, Tim Isted, also shoveling and Byron Walton preparing sandbags.
Natasha Lobban on the shovel, Deanne Reeves, Tim Isted, also shoveling and Byron Walton preparing sandbags. Brian Cassidy

He said the local SES encouraged any residents who needed sandbags or help to ring 132 500 or download the Queensland Assistance app on a smart device and lodge a job.

"It'll automatically come through to us and they can monitor their process in the line for our crews to get out there," Mr Galey said.

Bundaberg Regional Council said there had been no changes to its recommendations since Wednesday when disaster management officer Matt Dyer updated the press on weather conditions at the time.

"The biggest rainfall for Wide Bay will start maybe Saturday night, that's when we see the rainfall start to ramp up," Mr Dyer said on Wednesday.

"Flash flooding will definitely be an issue ... the rainfall type is forecast but may change."

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service is urging the community to stay safe in the coming days.

The service's chief executive, Adrian Pennington, said it was vital that patients who needed clinical support had a contingency plan for the risk of flooding or temporary access problems caused by the rain.

 

Wide Bay Hospital and Health board chair Peta Jamieson and CEO Adrian Pennington.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health board chair Peta Jamieson and CEO Adrian Pennington. Tahlia Stehbens

"It's important for people to check their medication supplies and ensure they have enough to get through the next few days - and to contact their GP, pharmacist or other health professional if they have any concerns," Mr Pennington said. "We're also individually contacting all our vulnerable patients, including those who may have renal dialysis or oxygen supplies at home, to discuss their needs and their care options.

"And generally, we'd like to urge the whole community to stay safe.

"As always, our emergency departments are ready to meet the needs of our community, but we certainly want people to be prepared and have contingency plans in place to avoid coming to us unless requiring emergency care."

He asked residents to avoid driving unless it was safe to do so, and not to undertake any outdoor activities that could be made riskier by bad weather.

Keep up to date with Cyclone Owen here.



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