Weather alert excites surfers

By HUGH KEARNEY

EVEN the threat of a severe weather alert was not enough to scare the Quiksilver Pro surfers out of the water yesterday.

In fact they were more than happy with the news.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) issued the warning early yesterday afternoon, with the strengthening of an east cost low off the southern Queensland coast. The alert carried warnings of strong winds, high tides and the risk of substantial rainfall in southeast Queensland, extending into the Tweed.

Severe weather forecaster with the bureau Peter Otto said the low, centred about 320 kilometres off Bundaberg at 2pm yesterday, was expected to strengthen as it moved southwest closer to the coast.

"There is the possibility of very large swells and abnormally high tides associated with this system," Mr Otto said.

"You could reasonably expect to see tides a metre or more higher than what you would normally expect for this time of year."

Mr Otto said the combination of strong winds, high tides and big waves could result in coastal erosion along the beaches from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, with the Tweed on the edge of the forecast area. He said five metre waves had been recorded at Mooloolaba.

But bad news to some is good for others.

Organisers of the world championship tour event at Snapper Rocks were yesterday taking it all in their stride and relishing the possi-

bility of some big waves to really test the competitors.

Event co-ordinator Matt Wilson said they had been aware of the developing weather system and taken the necessary precautions.

"We have a meteorologist on staff who keeps us up to date with all the weather, so we're all over this one," Mr Wilson said.

"It's a serious system and we've been well aware of it since it started."

Mr Wilson said with 40 and 50 knot winds predicted, organisers had called in contractors to reinforce their temporary structures and scaffolding.

"If you remember a similar thing happened two years ago and we had to take down some structures, so we're well prepared for such an event," he said.



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