Tropical Cyclone Yasi

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  • Tropical Cyclone Yasi
    07.02.2011 11:08

     

    Towns across Queensland were picking up the pieces on Thursday after their encounter with Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi, the most powerful cyclone to hit the east coast of Australia since 1918.

    Yasi made landfall at MissionBeach on Queensland’s north-east coast around midnight local time as a dangerous category 5 storm on the Saffir Simpson Scale, which measures cyclones on a scale of 1 to 5 based on their intensity. The 300km-wide storm brought winds of up to 180mph and waves up to 9m high, leaving a trail of destruction along a stretch of coast home to more than 400,000 people. Major storm surges and torrential downpours accompanied the winds, with 24 hour rainfall exceeding 300mm in a state still reeling from last month’s devastating flooding.

    The high winds toppled trees, cut power to around 200,000 properties, and severely damaged thousands of homes. Among the worst affected towns has been Tully, where one in three homes has either been destroyed or had roofs ripped off, and authorities have reported extensive damage to 90% of the main street. The damage is expected to cost insurers AUS $3.5 billion. Agriculture has also suffered heavily; losses to Queensland’s sugar industry, the world’s third largest exporter, are expected to top AUS $500 million. An estimated 90% of the banana crop has also been wiped out.

    Despite the havoc wrought by Yasi, no deaths or serious injuries have yet been attributed to the storm, perhaps due to days of preparation and early evacuations. 35,000 people were officially evacuated in the region from Cairns to Townsville. Over 10,000 sought refuge in shelters, while others caught the last flights out of Cairns and Townsville airports.

    Yasi was downgraded to a tropical low late Thursday as it continued on its south-westward track across Queensland, although heavy rains and damaging wind gusts remained a threat to vast areas of the state.

    By: Billy Payne