Renowned Aussie tourist island braces for cyclone

SYDNEY, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Residents and tourists on Australia's Lord Howe Island were bracing for destructive weather on Thursday, as Tropical Cyclone Uesi bore down on the small landmass, roughly 600 km from Australia's eastern coastline.


This photo dated 22 July 2002, shows the rugged coastline of Lord Howe Island. (File photo: AFP)

The category 2 cyclone is expected to reach the World Heritage-listed island early on Friday morning, bringing wind gusts of up to 125 km/h and five metre waves to its normally idyllic shores.

"The Community and Visitors to Lord Howe Island should commence preparations, especially securing boats and property," Australia's Bureau of Meteorology stated online.

"People living in coastal areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property as much as possible."

Local media reported that the island's roughly 400 residents and 400 visitors may become trapped with preparations being made to extend people's accommodation arrangements to ensure that tourists remain safe.

"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," Lord Howe Island Board chief executive Peter Adams told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

So far the Pacific Island nations of New Caledonia and Vanuatu have already endured heavy downpours, rough seas and flooding as Uesi passed them by.

While the cyclone is not expected to make contact with the Australian mainland, authorities have warned to expect similar dangerous coastal conditions and heavy rainfall for the south east of the country.