Cost of Cyclone Yasi to Australia will be in the billions

Cyclone Yasi

Cyclone Yasi, pictured here, is expected to cost more than $2 billion in damages in Australia. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Australia was nearly paralyzed as Cyclone Yasi slammed into the northeast coast of Queensland recently. The Category Five storm devastated coastal areas of Queensland, already heavily damaged from heavy flooding. The damage from Cyclone Yasi is expected to be more than $2 billion.

Agricultural areas decimated by Cyclone Yasi

Just after the Australian state of Queensland had experienced the worst flooding in a century, Cyclone Yasi slammed into the region. The cyclone strengthened from a Category Four to a Category Five just before making landfall. Initially the size of Hurricane Katrina, the storm grew to nearly the size of the United States, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Queensland is one of the chief agricultural areas in Australia, and damage is thought to be near catastrophic. The agricultural losses are already thought to be at least $1 billion, with another billion in damaged property. An estimated 30 percent of the sugar cane crop in Australia is expected to be lost, which could cost as much as $500 million. The Australian banana crop has also been severely affected, with 75 percent thought to be lost.

World food prices skyrocket

As news of the pending cyclone and possible loss of crops spread, world food prices began to rise, according to Reuters. Losses of banana and sugar cane crops in Australia, combined with loss of wheat from the Midwest snow storms in the U.S. are likely to send the price of bread, sugar and bananas sky high. American wheat prices already have begun rising in the wake of the winter storm, which has been nicknamed “Stormageddon.” Nearly half of the United States is covered in snow and ice, with freezing temperatures setting in after the snow storm.

Heavy damage from La Nina

Weather this year has been chiefly attributed to the weather pattern known as “La Niña,” according to The Telegraph. The phenomenon results in lower ocean surface temperatures and atmospheric pressure, which is the opposite effect that an El Niño has. Results of La Niña periods are often wetter, colder winters in the United States and Canada along with milder summers. In the southern hemisphere, the rainy season usually has heavier rainfall and stronger cyclones.

Sources

Christian Science Monitor

Reuters

The Telegraph

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