Parts of North East Australia are clearing up in the wake of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi, which is likely to have been the most intense cyclone at landfall over Queensland since 1918.
Cyclones of a similar intensity have made landfall more recently elsewhere in Australia:
- Tropical Storm Laurence in 2009
- Tropical Storm Monica in 2006
Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi reached the coast at Mission Beach at midnight local time on Thursday, with the nearby town of Tully experiencing most of the destruction. However, the larger towns of Cairns and Townsville were spared the worst of the damage.
Some of the facts and figures from Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi:
- Highest sustained winds were estimated to be near 155 mph, with higher gusts.
- Lowest air pressure was 929 millibars recorded at Tully.
- Five metre storm surge at Cardwell just south of Mission Beach.
- It was the strongest cyclone globally since Super Typhoon Megi in October 2010 which struck the Philippines.
Six days prior to landfall on Thursday 27th January, the Met Office global model was able to predict the point of landfall to within 46 km. The storm was not actually named until Sunday 30th January and had to cross 3500 km of ocean to reach Australia. Subsequent forecasts of landfall had errors averaging close to 150 km – well below what is usually expected.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology are responsible for cyclone warnings in this region and use their own version of the Met Office Unified Model to underpin their forecasting capability.
Casualty figures related to Cyclone Yasi so far are low and may even be zero. This is testament to the excellent forecasts and warning procedures and people heeding the warnings.
- Cyclone Yasi likely to have ravaged Great Barrier Reef (guardian.co.uk)
- NASA Aqua Satellite sees powerful Cyclone Yasi make landfall in Queensland, Australia (eurekalert.org)
- Cyclone Yasi: timeline of major Australian cyclones (telegraph.co.uk)
- Stunning imagery of Tropical Cyclone Yasi (gearthblog.com)