31 Jan 2011

Hold on to your hats!

No Comments Queensland (QLD)

As if Queensland haven’t experienced enough lately. Now the Queenslanders are preparing for what could be one of the state’s biggest tropical cyclones ever, expected to hit later this week. The storm, 500 km wide with a giant 100 km eye, and ferocious winds is tipped to cross the coast either on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The smaller category two cyclone Anthony that hit just the other day weakened into a low pressure system after crossing land, causing only minor damages. There is no such luck with the approaching Yasi, which like January’s devastating floods most likely will be a state event. It’s going to affect a much larger area than ex-cyclone Anthony both with rainfall and wind and because of its size and strength, it’s likely to persist as a cyclone even after it crosses land.

Read in the press:
Residents in communities from Mackay to Innisfail are on alert for Cyclone Yasi, a huge system that is anticipated to become a category four cyclone, and could be more powerful than 2005’s Cyclone Larry. Forecasters said Cyclone Yasi could be generating gales of more than 250km/h (or 69 m/s) when it hits the coast on Wednesday or Thursday, which would put it on a par with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.

The forecast path shown above is the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s best estimate of the cyclone’s future movement and intensity.

Queensland, which accounts for about a fifth of Australia’s economy and 90% of its exports of steel-making coal, has borne the brunt of a cruel summer, with floods having swept across the eastern seaboard in the past month, killing at least 35 people. Queensland is also home to Australia’s sugar industry, which was also hurt by the floods and now risks being battered by the cyclone.

The rains predicted to accompany the system could dump up to one metre into the already sodden river catchments of central Queensland, where people have only recently cleaned up from the floods in December and January. The floods that swamped around 30,000 homes, destroyed roads and rail lines and crippled Queensland’s coal industry, with up to 15 million tonnes of exports estimated to have been delayed into the second half of this year. Queensland’s coal mines are mostly well inland and unlikely to be smashed by Cyclone Yasi, but they could be drenched again by heavy rain. The mines are still struggling to pump water out of their pits.

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