Beaches Shut By Cyclone Oma No Match For Mick Fanning (Plus A Few Loose Units)
Surfing superstars Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning have joined dozens of waveriders trying their luck against Cyclone Oma's wrath, as huge swells batter the east coast.
Despite repeated warnings of hazardous surf conditions across Queensland, the monster waves have proved too tempting for some surfers.
Swells at some beaches were expected to reach peaks of up to six metres over the weekend, but Mooloolaba and Point Cook recorded 13 metres waves on Friday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Oma prompted the closure of all Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast beaches ahead of the weekend, as authorities warn beachgoers that getting into trouble in unpredictable conditions could leave swimmers and surfers stranded.
But even with the rough swells, it was easy to spot two champions in the surf at Kirra on Thursday.
Oma's roaring waves proved no match for the pros, with a few lucky spectators gathering to watch Fanning and Parkinson take on the barrels.
The pair later shared videos on social media.
Others also tried their luck, but many left with broken boards after being battered in the surf.
"It's a strong sweep, it's pretty hectic out there," surfer Ryan Day told 10 News First, adding he hadn't seen conditions like these for years.
"They just smash you right down and tumble you around."
But with more unpredictable conditions ahead, lifeguards are urging surfers and swimmers to reconsider their beach trips for the rest of the week.
"When we're going out in these conditions ourselves we're putting our lifesavers and lifeguards at risk and that's not ideal," Jacob Thomson, from Surf Lifesaving Queensland, said.
"Conditions are purely for experienced surfers only, and swimmers should stay out of the water."
On Thursday, lifeguards carried out 43 rescues at Noosa alone, due to dangerous conditions.
The warning has been echoed by QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who urged Queenslanders not to underestimate the cyclone, despite the likelihood Oma will stay off-shore.
"Don't go camping, don't go boating, don't go fishing, don't go swimming, and don't go surfing," she said.
Rough conditions are expected to peak on Friday evening and into Saturday, also prompting the closure of island ferry services. Tankers have been ordered to stay in port.
A flood watch warning was cancelled on Friday afternoon, but wind gusts have already exceeded 100 kilometres per hour, tearing down trees in some areas.
"Oma is expected to expected to take the south south westerly track over the next 24 to 36 hours and then make a u-turn to the north," Bruce Gunn from the Bureau of Meteorology said.