CYCLONE Ului Hit the North Queensland Coast at approximately 1:30AM Sunday morning in the vicinity of Airlie Beach and Proserpine.
Reports from locals liken the noise generated by the winds to the scream of jet engines during take-off as cyclone Ului crossed over them and moved further inland this morning.
Sixty thousand homes were left without power, airports in the area remain closed, and reports of boats having been washed ashore and houses damaged as a result of the forces generated bycyclone Ului.
Early reports indicate that suggest that while the damage is moderate, it is quite widespread throughout the local area. Ului crossed the coast as a category three cyclone, generating winds of 200km/h near Airlie Beach early this morning, authorities are only now able to start assessing the damage.
The Cyclone has since been downgraded to a category one and is weakening as it moves further inland. Weather Forecasters expect that it will deteriorate into a rain depression by this afternoon.
The early reports are that there is damage ranging from minor to moderate in a number of homes, with power outages across the region. The SES has received approximately 600 calls so far but this number is expected to escalate significantly throughout the day.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said there were "pockets of severe damage" in the Whitsundays region but generally the region had been spared the worst of the storm.
Speaking to Channel 7 earlier today she said "We know already that there are reports of a number of houses completely unroofed. We are characterising it as a significant event with severe damage in some pockets, but not a catastrophic event.”
Homes have been blacked out across a wide area between Mackay, Proserpine and Collinsville with the storm's winds bringing down trees and powerlines.
Corporate Communications Manager for Ergon Energy, John Fowler stated that customers were without power in Mackay, Proserpine, Cannonvale, Sarina and surrounding areas.
Ergon Energy believe that Bowen may also be affected with the possibility that a high-voltage powerline coming into the city from Proserpine may have been brought down.
It is estimated that about a dozen boats have been washed onto the rocks at Airlie Beach.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Ului was expected to continue inland, weakening as it moves further west later today.
At 5am (AEST), the cyclone was reported to be moving inland and was 44km west of Proserpine and 36km east-northeast of Collinsville.
Resulting heavy rain is expected to cause some flooding along the coast from Bowen south to Mackay, and west along the Clarke Range.
For information visit www.disaster.qld.gov.au
Photo: Supplied by BOM
As the gateway to Queenslandâ€™s magnificent Whitsunday Region, Airlie Beach is considered among the best holiday destinations in the world today.