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Monday, January 31, 2011

Monster Tropical Cyclone Yasi a very, very serious threat -- of a size never seen before in Queensland

Monster Tropical Cyclone Yasi a very, very serious threat


<strong>Menacing:</strong> Cyclone Yasi's infrared satellite image.
Menacing: Cyclone Yasi's infrared satellite image.
TOWNS from Cooktown to Cardwell are on alert as the Far North makes final preparations today as one of the largest cyclones in Queensland's history bears down on the coast.
Live cyclone updates:   
04:00 Update: Latest chart from the USAF Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Pearl Harbor has Cyclone Yasi touching land just south of Cairns.
Premier Anna Bligh last night said severe cyclone Yasi – which intensified from a tropical low to a category 3 system – posed a “very serious threat.”

Far North watching cyclone Yasi closely

Heather Beck
Monday, January 31, 2011
© The Cairns Post

AUTHORITIES last night described a cyclone tracking towards the Far North as a "Goliath" capable of causing extensive damage if it crossed the coast. 
Live cyclone updates:  
Cyclone Yasi, which formed near Vanuatu, was predicted to drift west towards the Far North, lashing the region as early as Wednesday and becoming the second storm system to impact north Queensland this week.
Authorities are warning of possible evacuations in low-lying waterfront areas along a vast stretch of coastline.
The weather bureau said coastal communities were likely to start feeling Yasi’s effects this morning, with the system expected to cross the coast in the next 48 hours.
Forecasting models predict the 500km-wide cyclone will intensify to category 4 strength with winds of up to 280km/h before crossing the coast between Innisfail and Yeppoon late tomorrow or early Thursday.
Gale force winds, storm surges and heavy rain will also be felt hundreds of kilometres from the eye of the storm.
In terms of wind strength, Yasi had the potential to rival the devastating 2006 cyclone Larry, but it is of a far greater physical size. 
Residents and businesses in the Far North have heeded warnings and started to prepare ahead of the possible battering.
Hardware stores were almost sold out of mid-range generators yesterday, with supermarket supplies such as batteries and large containers of water also running low.
Boat owners and tourism operators from Cape Flattery to Mourilyan were ordered to evacuate to cyclone moorings from
6am today after a yellow alert was issued by Maritime Safety Queensland.
Green Island resort will shut down and tourists will be evacuated to the mainland about noon today, while aircraft at Cairns airport will be tied to anchor points or moved to hangars if the second stage of the airport’s cyclone plan is activated.
Budget airline Jetstar yesterday announced special arrangements for passengers travelling to and from Hamilton Island, Mackay, Proserpine, Townsville and Cairns because of cyclone Yasi’s predicted path.
Passengers who are scheduled to travel between now and Sunday can change their travel dates at no charge. Travel must be taken before  April 5.
A spokesman for Education Queensland said no advice had been received to close schools yet, with any such move to be directed by emergency services and disaster management teams based on advice from the weather bureau.
Retirement homes also are on standby, awaiting advice from local government disaster management bosses before evacuations are considered.
Local disaster management groups were briefed by Ms Bligh and Emergency Management Queensland bosses last night.
They were told the dangerous cyclone is exceptionally large.
“At the moment, there’s an extraordinary amount of planning for this event because it is unprecedented in scale,” police assistant commissioner Katarina Carroll said.
“The weather bureau has never seen anything like it before. The area it will take in is huge.”
Areas as far north as Cooktown are on the weather bureau’s watchlist, but cyclone Yasi is predicted to belt parts of the Far North about Innisfail and further south, where cyclone Larry struck in 2006.
Innisfail district disaster management co-ordinator Insp David Tucker is ensuring residents are well informed before the cyclone hits.
“We know that people in this district are primarily well-practised at this sort of thing, but some of them will need a little forewarning about whether they move to a safer place or whether they’ll be safe enough,” he said.
Cairns Mayor Val Schier said that although storm surges were unlikely to affect the city, strong winds could topple powerlines and residents should prepare for blackouts.
The looming menace of cyclone Yasi comes as residents in the Bowen area, south of Townsville, mopped up after category 2 cyclone Anthony crossed the coast there late Sunday night.

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