Residents of Lord Howe Island have endured a terrifying night as ex-tropical Cyclone Uesi whipped up 150kph winds, ripping down trees and damaging buildings and boats.
- Authorities are assessing possible damage to houses
- The ex-cyclone is moving towards the Tasman Sea
- Dangerous winds are likely to persist on the island for several hours
The cyclone passed straight over the top of the island, which is 600km off the NSW coast, and is now weakening as it moves towards the Tasman Sea.
At least one boat has capsized off the western edge of the island and there are reports houses have been damaged.
As gales roared through, felling pine and palm trees, the island’s 400 permanent residents and another 400 tourists bunkered down.
They spent the night keeping up to date with emergency information — a difficult task with no mobile phone reception and very little internet.
Islanders and tourists did what they could to prepare for the wild night. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)
On the eastern side of Lord Howe, the storm sparked dangerous surf conditions, and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicted 14m swells.
The storm did not deter some visitors like James Eldridge and Julie Bassett — who came to the island to soak up its natural beauty.
“I think it’s fairly exciting to be here at this time,” Ms Bassett said.
“It makes the whole visit more spectacular obviously, with all the waves and the wind and the atmosphere,” Mr Eldridge said.
“Any of these big natural events you’ve got to respect because they can be life threatening if you’re in the wrong place,” he said.
Julie Bassett and James Eldridge are on holiday but said the cyclone was “exciting” to watch. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)
The storm is now moving away from the island but residents have been warned to stay vigilant.
State Emergency Services (SES) volunteers are preparing to start the clean-up, but the BOM has warned damaging winds could persist for several hours.
The cyclone was downgraded yesterday afternoon but maintained an intensity equivalent to a category two tropical cyclone into the evening.
Ex-Tropical Cyclone Uesi tracking directly over Lord Howe Island.
(Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)
ABC weather expert Graham Creed said the downgrade took place because a tropical cyclone relies on the water temperature being above 26.5 degrees.
“Once a tropical cyclone moves over waters that are colder than that, it transitions to a more general low pressure system, but it still maintains very strong conditions,” he said.
“Where a cyclone is quite symmetrical in the damage that it will cause, a low pressure system, as it moves further south, will actually cause the worst of the conditions.”