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Why Cyclone Oma Is The Most Confused Storm In Recent Memory

Many are scratching their heads with the latest developments of the very strange tropical cyclone Oma.

As of Friday afternoon, Oma is 710km north-east of Brisbane, tracking south at 13km/h.

Overnight, Oma was downgraded from a Category Two to a Category One tropical cyclone.

Earlier in the week, there were suggestions the cyclone could make landfall over southeast Queensland, however the latest modelling has the system staying well off the coast.

Surfers tackle waves at Kirra on the Gold Coast on Friday, as huge swells and high tides pummel Queensland beaches (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

So why is it that we've seen such a dramatic change in the forecast? Or have we?

Earlier in the week, the models were struggling to agree on what path Oma would take. Some forecast models had the system making landfall over southeast Queensland this weekend -- but some models had it tracking towards New Zealand, while others had it even heading back north.

READ MORE: Wild Winds Head For QLD And NSW As Oma Is Downgraded

READ MORE: Massive 8-Metre Waves Expected As Cyclone Warning Issued

With such a diverse number of scenarios, it was hard to figure out with any confidence what the outcome would be.

Cyclone Oma
Image: Bureau Of Meteorology

By Wednesday, forecast models were starting to agree that Oma would track towards southeast Queensland, but not necessarily make landfall. Some media outlets pulled the trigger too early, making it sound like Oma was going to crash straight into Brisbane.

However, with a strong ridge of high pressure building through the eastern seaboard, this was a very low chance.

READ MORE: Cyclone Oma Defies Forecast And Thunders Towards QLD

On top of that, other reliable forecast models predicted it would stay well off the coast.

It is also important to note the Bureau of Meteorology on Thursday issued a “cyclone watch” from Bundaberg to Ballina, including Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.

This is basically a heads up -- it is not a “cyclone warning.”

A satellite view on February 18 of Cyclone Oma off the coast of Queensland. (AAP Image/Supplied by Bureau of Meteorology)

When looking at the weather and forecasts, it is important to look at all the available information and different scenarios, rather than picking just one outcome and running with it.

This is not to say Oma will not have an impact. Already we are seeing powerful and hazardous surf crash into southeast Queensland beaches. A severe weather warning is in place for abnormally high tides, dangerous surf, and damaging winds for the Queensland coast and islands.

Even though the consensus is that Oma will stay off the coast in the short term, it -- just like any cyclone -- can be unpredictable.

All Queenslanders are urged to keep themselves up to date with the latest warnings and forecasts as they are released from the BOM over the coming days.