Cyclones Lam and Marcia Bear Down on Australia

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Residents of northern and eastern Australia prepared for what was being dubbed a “cyclone sandwich” late Thursday as two powerful storms threatened the region with damaging winds and dangerously high tides.

Cyclone Marcia was nearing the coast of Queensland near the city of Brisbane. It was expected to become a Category 5 storm packing 183 mph wind gusts before making landfall on Friday, forecasters said.

“Heavy rainfall is already occurring about some coastal and island communities ... and is expected to continue, and extend inland, during Friday,” according to a Bureau of Meteorology statement at 12 midnight on Friday (9 a.m. ET). “A flood watch is current for the area.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk advised residents to stay out of harm’s way.

Meteorologists also warned residents of high waves and “abnormally high tides ... with water levels expected to rise above the highest tide of the year.”

Meanwhile, Cyclone Lam was classified as a Category 4. It was due to hit the Northern Territory some 120 miles from the city of Darwin. Destructive winds with gusts of up to 143 mph could hit some areas, forecasters said.

— F. Brinley Bruton