Severe cyclone poised to mash up the GBR and northern Queensland

Tropical cyclone Yassi is heading WSW at 21 mph with sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts to 165 mph.  This is a massive and severe store.  It is going to rock the GBR and could cause massive flooding and destruction in northern Queensland.  I hope for minimal damage to man and beast…

From ABC news:

Queenslanders have been told to prepare themselves for a terrifying 24 hours as the “most catastrophic storm ever” takes aim at heavily populated areas of the state’s north.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi was upgraded to category five this morning as the weather bureau warned it was likely to be “more life-threatening” than any storm seen in Australia in living memory.

Tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes ahead of the monster storm, which is expected to hit the coast between Cairns and Innisfail with winds of up to 295 kilometres per hour near the core.

Premier Anna Bligh says the storm’s expected landfall at about 10:00pm AEST is the worst possible news for a state which is already reeling from recent flooding.

She says Cyclone Yasi is the “most catastrophic storm to ever hit our coast”.

“Frankly, I don’t think Australia has ever seen a storm of this intensity in an area as populated as this stretch of our coast,” she said.

“Whether it’s cyclonic devastating winds, storm surge, or torrential rain further west as a result of this, we are facing an extreme event that will not be over in 24 hours, but will possibly take several days before the full flooding effect is felt across the region as well, potentially right through to Mount Isa.

“We are facing a storm of catastrophic proportions in a highly populated area. You’ve heard all of the statistics and what it all adds up to is a very, very frightening time for people and their families.

“This is not something that passes over the coast and is over in an hour. This is 24 hours of quite terrifying winds, anywhere up to 300 kilometres per hour, torrential rain, likely loss of electricity and mobile communications. People really need to be preparing themselves mentally as much as anything else.”

The weather bureau says Cyclone Yasi poses an “extremely serious threat” to life and property within the warning area, especially between Port Douglas and Townsville.

“This impact is likely to be more life-threatening than any experienced during recent generations,” the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said.

This morning, Cyclone Yasi was estimated to be 650 kilometres east north-east of Cairns and 650 kilometres north-east of Townsville, moving west south-west at 30 kilometres per hour.

The bureau says the low category five cyclone will continue to move in a west-south-westerly direction today, but could become a high category five before making landfall.

Senior bureau forecaster Gordon Banks says it could take at least 24 hours for Cyclone Yasi to weaken after it crosses the coast.

“There’s still potential for it to become stronger … as a strong category five we could see wind gusts in excess of 320 kilometres an hour, which is just horrific.”

He added: “If you’re bunkering down in the regions it’s going to be quite frightening and it’s going to go on and on for quite some time.”

6 thoughts on “Severe cyclone poised to mash up the GBR and northern Queensland

  1. Thanks Mark H. Cool paper. Although ocean warming is likely to increase cyclone strength and frequency, I wouldn’t attribute a single weather event to climate change. That said, the presence of large storms in the past doesn’t mean climate change will not lead to more of them in the future.

  2. I guess the big questions will be whether climate change will increase the intensity of La Nina, increase the intensity of cyclones (but maybe not the frequency), increase the period and intensity of rainfall events in Queensland and hence, as for this wet season, increase the effects of runoff on the GBR. This wet we’ve had very early (from September) and prolonged runoff events in the Wet Tropics, massive and continuing (wet season has a few months to go yet)runoff in the southern half of the GBR, now cyclone cat 5 physical damage to the reef (severity yet to be assessed)and now more flooding in the wet tropics, Burdekin and Fitzroy from the Cyclone Anthony and Yasi rainfall. The nature of the runoff has changed of course from pre 1800 runoff with the vegetation changes on the catchments, mining, cropping and urban development.

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