The northeast coast of Australia is bracing for the landfall of Cyclone Yasi. Yasi is a tropical storm heading for the already battered state of Queensland, which recently experienced some of the worst flooding on record. The storm has roughly the same force as Hurricane Katrina.
Cyclone Yasi about to batter coast of Queensland
The state of Queensland, which comprises the northeast corner of Australia, is bracing for flooding and rain in anticipation of the impact of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, according to The Telegraph. The storm will be making landfall sometime by Wednesday, Feb. 2, and bring with it winds of 175 miles per hour and deadly flash flooding. The area that could be affected by the storm is roughly the size of England, Scotland and Wales combined. The storm was recently upgraded to a Category Four storm and is so large that the it could take more than an hour for the eye of the storm to pass overhead. The last cyclone of similar size was Cyclone Larry in 1996, which caused more than $1.5 billion in damage.
Storm the size of Hurricane Katrina
The cyclone is roughly the size of Hurricane Katrina, which battered the Gulf Coast of the United States and wreaked havoc in the city of New Orleans in 2005. Yasi is almost 300 miles wide and could affect an area larger than 400 miles across and up to 600 miles inland from the Queensland coast, according to Reuters. Industrial centers, mines and schools have been closed. More than 9,000 people have been evacuated. Anna Bligh, the Premier of Queensland, has described the storm as “life threatening.” The storm is also expected to devastate the sugar cane and banana crops of Innisfail, a major agricultural center. Australia is currently the third largest exporter of sugar cane in the world.
Queensland still recovering from flooding
The state of Queensland is still recovering from December flooding that killed 35 people and left almost two-thirds of the area waterlogged. Those floods have already caused more than $5 billion in damage, according to the Christian Science Monitor, and were exacerbated by Tropical Cyclone Tasha, which came along with a far wetter than normal monsoon season that caused severe flash flooding throughout the state of Queensland.