HAMMERED: Clarkes Beach and the Pass are already hard hit by beach erosion with more severe weather predicted for the weekend.
HAMMERED: Clarkes Beach and the Pass are already hard hit by beach erosion with more severe weather predicted for the weekend. DAVID YOUNG

Council urges safety first in cyclone conditions

BYRON Shire Council has asked locals to put safety first in coming days with tropical cyclone Oma expected to generate large waves and high winds, making conditions on beaches and waterways in the Byron Shire dangerous and unpredictable.

Council is asking people to stay off dunes already damaged by erosion, don't swim at open beaches, swim only at patrolled beaches between flags and stay off rocks and walls close to the surf.

SWEPT AWAY: The iconic pandanus  at Clarkes Beach are under threat from the high tides and huge surf.
SWEPT AWAY: The iconic pandanus at Clarkes Beach are under threat from the high tides and huge surf. DAVID YOUNG

Oma is forecast to move to the southwest over coming days generating significant east to northeasterly swell over far northern New South Wales beaches. The increasing swell is also expected to combine with king tides.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for abnormally high tides and hazardous surf conditions for the Northern Rivers including the Byron Shire.

"The combination of very high tides and heavy seas can cause coastal erosion and dune instability, and if the weather does worsen as predicted, it is likely that beaches will be closed,” Chloe Dowsett, Council's Coastal Officer, said.

"The Bureau of Meteorology is monitoring the path of tropical cyclone Oma, which is currently located 1,100km north east of Brisbane in the Coral Sea,” Ms Dowsett said.

It is likely that the big seas and high tides will produce moderate to severe erosion on beaches including The Pass, Clarkes Beach, Main Beach and Belongil.

"These beaches are presently depleted of sand and we are likely to see erosion of the dunes at the back of beaches as well,” Ms Dowsett said.

"We are also likely to see erosion at New Brighton and beaches in the south of the Shire (Suffolk and Tallow).

"Fencing and beach access ways may be undermined due to this erosion.

"There has already been some erosion of dunal areas at The Pass and Clarkes which is further exacerbated by people climbing and trampling the dunes and using it for shade and we ask that everyone stays off these areas,” Ms Dowsett said.

Important messages for the community are:

- Don't let your children (or anyone) play on the dunes - which can become unstable and dangerous. Dunes are also being trampled by people trying to gain some shade, they are in a poor state at the moment, especially around The Pass and Clarkes Beach.

- Don't swim or plan any marine activities on open beaches over the next several days.

- Caution is advised for any swimming - even in the rivers and estuaries and especially around river mouths and training walls due to marine conditions. Never swim on an out-going tide during these conditions.

- If swimming is permitted, always swim between the flags and don't swim alone.

- Stay off any rock walls or training walls, stay well away from the surf, and keep children very close.


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