On top of the countries flood woes, Australia now is bracing for Cyclone Yasi being labelled one of the biggest cyclones to ever hit the region. Yasi is 500km wide and bearing down on the state of Queensland, the area hardest hit by devastating floods. Anna Bligh, the state premier, has called Yasi a "monster, killer storm" and is predicting deadly surges inland.
Estimates say that the storm will cross the coast sometime late on Wednesday local time – and could hit anywhere along a 400-mile stretch between Cairns and Bowen. It already is a Category 3 cyclone with winds up to 137 mph (220 kph) but was expected to intensify to a Category 4 with wind gusts up to 155 mph (250 kph) by Wednesday. It is thought it will dump up to three feet (one meter) of rain on communities already saturated from months of flooding.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh was quoted as saying, "This storm is huge and it is life-threatening. I know many of us will feel that Queensland has already borne about as much as we can bear when it comes to disasters and storms, but more is being asked of us — and I am confident that we are able to rise to this next challenge."
Australia’s news paper the Herald Sun has a map showing where the storm will hit and some diagrams explaining the relative sizes of some recent storms with Yasi and yes, Yasi is really, really big.
The latest modelling suggests Cyclone Yasi is on track to hit Cairns about 1am (AEST) on Thursday as a highly destructive category four storm with winds above 250km/h.
In Cairns alone, about 29,000 people are on notice of mandatory evacuation. Six evacuation centres have been set up in and around the city to accommodate people who have nowhere to go.
Associated Press – Jan 31/2011
Cyclone Hits Australia’s Flood Ravaged Northeast
Click HERE to read more from William Belle.
Hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones are different names for the same type of storm. A tropical cyclone is called a hurricane in the North Atlantic Ocean, South Pacific Ocean, or the Northeast Pacific Ocean on the eastern side of the dateline. A typhoon occurs in the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the dateline. In other parts of the world, these storms are called severe tropical cyclones.