Published on : Sunday, November 17, 2013
Even heavy rains failed to dampen the spirits on the opening night of Schoolies. While severe thunderstorms delayed the party for about an hour, stages set on the stretch of sand at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast have been reopened. Schoolies organiser Mark Weyburn said the party was closed off to young revellers amid concerns of wet weather affecting electrical equipment.
Access to the schoolies beach party has been closed temporarily while emergency services evaluated the storm threat. Thousands of schoolies are assembling on the streets around Cavill Mall.
Gold Coast Schoolies spokesman Wayne Hickson said emergency services are keeping an eye on a developing storm front but organiser have no plans to close off the beach party at this stage.
“At the moment the worst of the storm looks like it will go around us but we have plenty of
systems in place in case we need to evacuate the beach quickly.”
Messages broadcast on large television screens, SMS warnings and audio warnings are on hand to alert schoolies if required.
If the party is shut off, Red Frogs volunteers will do the rounds at hotel room parties to keep the estimated 30,000 school leavers entertained and out of trouble.
Mr Hickson said schoolies week is off to a slow start but is sure to pick up as the night wears on.
The Bruce Highway has been reopened at two sections following separate incidents earlier this evening.
Motorists can now use one lane of the highway after a minor car crash 40km north of Gin Gin. Emergency services are still removing the damaged vehicle from the road. The highway is also open near Marlborough, north of Rockhampton, after a tree-related incident about 3pm.
At 2.35pm severe storms were detected near Beenleigh and Russell Island, they are forecast to affect Mount Cotton, Macleay Island and Victoria Point by 3.05pm.
Earlier, walkers on the Wynnum foreshore got a shock this morning when a large water funnel was spotted just off the coast. Reader Janet Rough snapped a picture about 6.45am, with the odd formation dominating the skyline.
Commonly referred to as a water spout, Bureau of Meteorology Duty Forecaster Gordon Banks said the formation was more likely to be a small tornado over water.
“In this instance being as it was associated with a thunderstorm it’s most likely a tornado over water,” he said. “It would actually pick up water as it moved; it’s hard to see if they don’t have water or dirt wrapped around them.”
Also spotted from the airport, if the formation is a tornado Brisbane could be on the receiving end of a weather phenomenon.
“If it were a tornado, and I suspect it were but it’s hard to prove, then it’s very unusual and very rare,” Mr Banks said. “Statistically we’re unlikely to get another one, but if the environments produced one there remains a chance of another. It’s just another part of the danger associated with thunderstorms and why it’s always best to take cover.”