by Cas Garvey
WILL she or won't she?
Bureau-trained forecasters, amateur weather chasers, seasoned pros and armchair experts are all weighing in on if Cyclone Linda will form off the coast today as they're all eagerly watching the swirls form on interactive maps.
WHAT THE WEATHER CHASERS SAY
Higgins Storm Chasing posted an updated forecast at 12.30pm today saying 'Tropical Cyclone 13P" was located 1200km north-east of Brisbane moving south west at 20km an hour.
"The system has entered an area of moderate vertical wind shear which is preventing the system from intensifying," Higgins posted to their followers.
"TC 13P is expected to continue tracking south west during the next 24 hrs before latest model data becomes uncertain. During Wednesday moderate vertical wind shear is likely to continue to impact the upper half of the system though the low level circulation centre may gain slight intensity. South east winds will increase along the Central and South East QLD coasts as will scattered showers and dangerous surf."
Higgins said tomorrow's forecast would heavily depend on seeing the high resolution forecast data update from ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) at 6.30pm tonight.
"At this stage there is a 75% chance on latest global data that the system continues to weaken but nears or crosses the coast between Rockhampton and Brisbane."
Meanwhile, Oz Cyclone Chasers last night seemed to take issue with Higgins saying the system would "impact" south-east Queensland, saying "there is no modelling to suggest a SE Qld direct impact" and including the hashtags #nohype #fakenews
"Hazardous surf conditions is likely to be the main threat from INVEST 90P including possible gale force winds on exposed beaches and islands," they posted to their followers.
Thomas Hinterdorfer, self-proclaimed extreme weather chaser, last night excitedly posted about the system being named Tropical Cyclone Linda in a matter of hours.
"WOW!!! Massive amounts of convection have exploded rapidly across the banding east of Invest 90P and directly OVER the low level circulation centre," Mr Hinterdorfer said.
"This system has rapidly intensified in the last 1-2 hours... if this maintains its convective power, then we 'could' see Linda named tonight."
While it was not named last night, Mr Hinterdorfer remains certain the system will deliver some serious swells along the coast.
Speaking to the Daily Mercury this afternoon, the 24-year-old weather chaser said "some model disagreements" threw a spanner in the works but he was hoping the ECMWF forecast at 6.30pm would firm things up.
Mr Hinterdorfer, who works for Higgins Storm Chasing, has been chasing storms and extreme weather seriously for nearly seven years.
"I just have had a passion for it ever since I was about 10; I've loved everything to do with the weather," he said.
"Until I was about 16 I didn't realise it could be a job. I started doing career courses and once I finished school, I did and am still doing a Bachelor of Science which will lead to a degree in meteorology.
"I work with Higgins and then chase the extreme ones where I can - I'm going to the States again next month."
While Mr Hinterdorfer works from his home in North Brisbane, he said the Higgins Storm Chasing following had grown so much in recent years it's become a real community of weather watchers.
"(During Cyclone Debbie) our page grew 30,000 followers in three days; it was very busy," he said.
"We have eyes everywhere now, the amount of storms I've seen in the most obscure places, it makes alerting and warning people a lot easier when you have eyes on the storm and not looking at the radar."
But, he said, as well as their supporters, Higgins do cop a lot of flak from people who criticise when they "get it wrong".
"That's the industry, we're never going to be able to forecast down to a street… even in the States they can't do that - the technology in the States far exceed what we've got.
"But even if we could, it's the whole Mother Nature factor… we can pinpoint where it will cross but in the end, Mother Nature will decide."
We don't name a #Cyclone until it reaches Category 1 strength. The low off the southern Queensland coast is expected to remain offshore, with the main impact high tides and Dangerous Surf for the #SEQ coastline. See the Cyclone Outlook for further info: https://t.co/EpukRsOann pic.twitter.com/cqNr20qPj7— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) March 13, 2018
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
The Bureau of Meteorology issued an update at 2pm Tuesday, saying a tropical low was located over the eastern Coral Sea, approximately 1120km northeast of the Sunshine Coast, and moving southwest at approximately 25 km/h.
"There is still a moderate chance of this system developing into a tropical cyclone today (Tuesday) with a decreasing chance during Wednesday as the system interacts with unfavourable atmospheric conditions," the outlook says.
"The system is forecast to approach the southern coast of Queensland over the next 24 to 30 hours before curving to the south to southeast overnight Wednesday and into Thursday. The system is expected to remain offshore of the Australian east coast.
"If a tropical cyclone develops, it is likely that it will transition into a extra-tropical system during Wednesday and into Thursday.
"While the tropical low or cyclone is expected to remain offshore, the system is still expected to produce dangerous surf on exposed southern Queensland beaches."
Meanwhile the United States Naval Observatory has recorded the "Tropical Cyclone 13P" tracking southward at 09 knots over the past six hours.
Here are their 'remarks':
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MORE WEATHER LOVERS WEIGH IN...
Wally from Wally's Weather this morning was questioning why the BOM hadn't named the system yet.
"With the Cyclone (called by JTWC not the BOM) out in the Coral Sea all the cloud is centered around it and the trough to the North. So over the next 3 days very little to no rain," Wally said.
"Why hasn't the BOM called it, well it's been said they have different criteria, however the public info on that is pretty much the same. It will be an in house decision based on one or two factors.
"We've seen the BOM call cyclones in the past that the JTWC didn't call. The system is very close to the edge of the BOMs area of jurisdiction as well."
Whoever ends up being right about Cyclone Linda -- the amateurs, the experts, the $29.95 storm glass contraption -- one thing remains clear: Queensland is in for some wild weather over the next week, and it can't hurt to be prepared wherever you are.