| 13.02,20. 08:32 AM |
Tropical Cyclone Uesi set to hit Lord Howe Island, bringing 120kph gale-force winds and large swells
Photo: Large swell and strong winds will impact the NSW coastline. (Twitter: @dezomopr | Photo: Tropical Cyclone Uesi is expected to pass near Lord Howe Island. (BOM)|
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Residents of Lord Howe Island are preparing for gale-force and destructive winds tonight and tomorrow as Tropical Cyclone Uesi continues tracking south into the Tasman Sea.
The category-two cyclone is expected to weaken as it makes its way towards the tiny island, which is 600km off the NSW coast and home to 400 people.
There are also about 400 tourists there, and plans are being made to manage those unable to leave if flights are cancelled.
"It's still a reasonably serious weather system and we are taking appropriate action to prepare for that," Lord Howe Island Board chief executive Peter Adams said.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is warning residents on the island to expect gales with gusts up to 120kph and swells of more than 5 metres.
A Qantas spokesperson said today's flights were unlikely to be impacted, and that the airline had not yet made a decision about tomorrow's services.
Mr Adams said precautions included getting earth-moving equipment in place to allow the openings of flooded creeks, clearing roadside drains and the "renourishment" of areas impacted by coastal erosion.
Accommodation on the island is at capacity and authorities are attempting to make sure everyone has a bed.
"All things being equal, the people that can't get off the island are cancelled out to some degree by ones that can't return here, but there's a lot of adjustment that goes on to accommodate those people," Mr Adams said.
Josh, who lives on Lord Howe Island, said he could see Uesi approaching and was preparing to "batten down the hatches".
"Everyone's just kind of getting ready, it's getting pretty eerie and overcast here already but I don't think it's going to be anything too serious until tonight," he said.
"I'm a plumber, so I've got a pretty busy day getting everyone ready."
Mike Funnell from the BOM said the system would not impact the NSW mainland.
"It will slide to the west of Lord Howe Island, where we expect damaging winds and large swell as early as Thursday evening," he said.
"As the cyclone system moves south, it's going to weaken and that means it will be reclassified as an ex-tropical cyclone.
"It can still have quite considerable impacts though, we're expecting the sort of impacts onto Lord Howe Island that you would normally see from a category one or possibly a category two system."
Mr Adams said the island, which was isolated and without mobile phone coverage, "organises itself differently".
"People live close to each other, they're very connected and they're very experienced in this," he said.
"The SES [State Emergency Service] have been meeting with all the other emergency services, so the usual emergency response agencies are here — it's just that they're all volunteers from a very small community."
While the cyclone won't hit the NSW coast, it is expected to produce large swells, high tides and strong winds over the weekend.
A large inland trough will also continue to bring storms and potentially heavy rain to large parts of the state over the coming days with isolated falls as heavy as 50mm in some areas.