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BOM: Current Yasi track projections
Local coverage at cairns.com.au
Q&A: Preparing for a cyclone
Email us your status and tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
Evacuation and info hotline 1300 993 191
Register as evacuee at Red Cross
12.24am Some people are keeping their sense of humour as they prepare for cyclone Yasi. Check out this picture from a local surfer’s Facebook page.
Flood levy: ‘Will just pass’
yasi window tape
12.21am Nearly all the evacuation centres in Cairns are full. Five of the seven are at capacity. Mayor Val Schier says an eighth may be opened later in the day. Only the Redlynch and Trinity Beach evacuation centres are still taking people.
11.41am With the bureau now saying Yasi is likely to be the most life-threatening storm in living memory, we’ve had this email from reader Michael, who has been through one before. He writes:
If this is anything like Tracy, folk should leave and now, with tinned food water supplies and valuables. We did all the right things in Tracy. The water in the bath (black and undrinkable) the floors were covered in the black sludge washed from the ceiling. There was no sewerage, power, or water. Wooden houses were blown away and double brick cavity wall houses smashed. If we had our family had our time over with Tracy again we all agree we would leave town.
Email your status updates and reports to email@example.com
11.13am More on the science behind cyclones: the ABC has an informative piece explaining how the storms are formed and what they can do.
This excerpt explains what it’s like in the eye of the storm.
The pressure is very deep inside the eye of a cyclone and there are very light winds, which can give a false sense of security. There is also an eerie sensation because you may have been subject to 200 kilometre-an-hour winds and suddenly it goes calm. The problem is, the winds can return to being just as strong as the cyclone continues to move over.
11.05am Millions of dollars worth of aircraft and patrol boats have been moved out of Cyclone Yasi’s path and troops put on standby to deliver emergency assistance, the Courier Mail reports.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said Defence had “plenty” of previous experience with Cyclone Larry and was making preparations to help isolated communities with access to food and emergency medical evacuations.
10.53am A composite image of Google Earth and a NASA satellite photograph shows Queensland dwarfed by “the most severe, most catastrophic storm that has ever hit our coast”.
satellite image yasi 0202
Image: NASA / Google
10.43am The window of opportunity for evacuating will close in around three hours. Cairns hospital is already empty after staging the largest hospital evacuation in Australian history.
Cairns airport will close at 10am local time.
10.34am Ms Bligh said the ferocity of the storm might bring down transmission towers, meaning electricity could be lost in parts of regional Queensland that aren’t even affected by the cyclone.
Ergo Energy is planning for anywhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people losing power.
“They expect that we could see the impact come as far south as Mackay in relation to electricity supply,” she said.
10.24am Anna Bligh says the next 24 hours “will be terrifying”. Ian Stewart says “we haven’t forgotten” the smaller towns, even though much of the talk has been about the large population centres.
The most at risk areas are between Cairns and Cardwell.
700mm of rain, 280km/h winds and 2m storm surges will hit around 10pm tonight.
10.20am Ian Stewart urges people to prepare themselves and their neighbours as it will take 24 hours for the conditions to return to normal. He said people should prepare for the fact that “the roofs of the houses may lift off.”
The eye of the cyclone is 35km in diametre, travelling at 30km/h so will take at least an hour to pass. Ms Bligh urges people not to go outside during that time as the storm will return with equal intensity.
It will be “impossible for emergency services to respond” during that 24 hour period because they need to be safe as well.
10.16am Anna Bligh advises the tidal storm surges will be worse on the southern side of where the cyclone falls. Councils are working with “worst case scenario” mapping.
Ian Stewart urged people to evacuate from danger areas as soon as possible. “The closer you are, the longer the period of danger for you.”
10.11am Premier Anna Bligh says in a press conference that winds of up to 280km/h are expected. She says “now is the time for people prepare themselves and their children and their families mentally.” Emergency services are on alert to respond in the aftermath of the storm.
Optus and Telstra are working to have people on the ground as soon as possible after the event to restore telecommunications.
There is a portable hospital facility in Townsville and another in Darwin. Both are on alert.
500 police officers are on alert to go into the region over the next three days as the storm subsides.
10.04am A weather watcher in Cairns reported on Twitter that the Bureau of Meteorology observation post on Willis Island may have been destroyed. They are being slammed by the cyclone now, and no data has been reported for 40 minutes.
You can see a radar image here.
9.57am Federal MP Bob Katter says the north Queensland city of Innisfail is on tenterhooks ahead of Cyclone Yasi with many residents still traumatised by Cyclone Larry, describing the town as dark and eerie.
“The sky is dark, uniformly dark and it’s very, very distinctively cyclonic,” he told ABC Radio.
“There’s a lot of people who came out of Cyclone Larry very badly damaged psychologically.
“To have to be hit again is really, really terrible.”
Due to travel inland to his Charters Towers home today the MP says he hopes homes re-built since Cyclone Larry will be better able to withstand Yasi.
9.49am NASA reports Cyclone Yasi is creating 11.5m waves in the Coral Sea. “Infrared imagery suggests that the storm appears to fill up most of the Coral Sea, and provided scientists with a 10 nautical mile-wide eye measurement of the storm. ”
9.30am Wind gusts are reaching 140km/h at Willis Island off the coast of Queensland. The tiny island is in the direct path of the cyclone and is home to a Bureau of Meteorology weather station. Three bureau staff have been evacuated.
9.10am Cairns Mayor Val Schier says the city could see Cyclone Tracy-like scenes when monster Cyclone Yasi hits, and anyone who decides to stay in homes in unsafe areas are on their own.
“We look to what happened with Cyclone Tracy where people ended up under mattresses in bathrooms and that may be the situation here …” she told ABC TV.
“In the end if people want to stay, they’re taking responsibility for their own life,” she said.
She said stretched emergency services could not be diverted from critical tasks if people made the wrong decision to stay in unsafe areas.
Below, a photograph of the devastation following Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Pic: Michael Franchi
The damage caused by Cyclone Tracy. Picture: Michael Franchi
8.59am Cyclonic winds more than 280km/h will start from mid-morning and will become more extreme about 8pm or 9pm (AEST).
“Whether it’s cyclonic, storm surge or torrential rain, we are facing an extreme event that won’t be over in 24 hours but will take several days before the full flooding effect is felt across the region – potentially right through to Mount Isa,” Anna Bligh told Sky News.
“Frankly, I don’t think Australia has ever seen a storm of this size, this intensity in an area as popular as this stretch of our coast.”
8.37am Anna Bligh this morning told ABC Radio “This is the most severe, most catastrophic storm that has ever hit our coast”.
“We’ve seen a number of worst case scenarios come together.”
8.10am Some people are refusing to leave their homes, says Cairns mayor Val Schier. She told ABC radio “that is their prerogative” but that they were placing themselves at risk and some people were not taking the cyclone warnings as seriously as they should.
8.08am Senior bureau forecaster Gordon Banks told the ABC Yasi could take at least 24 hours to weaken after it makes landfall.
“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 said.
8.06am Premier Anna Bligh has said that people need to get out now. Ms Bligh told Sky News that the storm is going to hit at high tide, putting many coastal regions at even greater risk of tidal storm surges.
She said there’s not much time for coastal residents, particularly those between Port Douglas and Townsville, to evacuate.
“People still have a very small window of opportunity to move to a safer place.”
7.49am If you were wondering how a cyclone works, the Cairns Post spoke to extreme natural events expert Professor Jon Nott about the anatomy of a cyclone.
7.13am The Courier Mail spoke to some of the victims of cyclone Larry, including Clotilda Lazzarich, 72, who spent 14 months living in a dog kennel after the category 4 storm destroyed her home.
“It’s coming,” she shrugged. “And that’s it.
“No point panicking.”
None know better the terror and heartache than the hardy folk of Innisfail.
“Lots of people in town are freaking out, they feel like they are living a nightmare,” the elderly widow said.
6.54am Authorities have given a list of ‘cyclone kit essentials’. People in far north Queensland should make sure they’re cashed up and have essentials ready before the storm hits, says the Department of Emergency Services.
ATMs might not be working so have enough money for food and petrol, and pack a kit including batteries, first aid, non perishable food, candles, baby formula, medications, warm clothes, nappies, keepsakes and documents, bedding and waterproof plastic bags.
Turn off and unplug all gas, water and electricity appliances.
Store water and have purification tablets handy.
6.03am The Bureau of Meteorology has upgraded Yasi to a Category 5 cyclone.
The highest level of storm categorisation, this will bring winds above 280km/h and certain destruction, particularly within the warning areas from Port Douglas to Townsville.
The Bureau warns the impact of the storm is “likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations”.
Yasi tracking 110202 0501
Yasi tracking map released 5.01am 2/2/11 Pic: Bureau of Meteorology
5:30am Graphic in today’s Australian packs a punch. Visually stunning and full of useful information. You can view a PDF version here.
4:20am: The latest modelling suggests Cyclone Yasi is on track to hit Cairns between 10pm tonight and 1am tomorrow morning with wind gusts above 260km/h.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the situation and exact impact of the cyclone would become clearer this afternoon.
3:35am: Six evacuation centres will be open from 6am. Cairns Regional Council warned people to get to centres early.
2:50am: Authorities confirm evacuations have taken place in Townsville, Ingham, Cooktown and the Whitsunday resort islands.
The Australian Defence Force has successfully evacuated hundreds of patients from two Cairns hospitals to Brisbane.
1:17am: Bureau of Meterology senior forecaster Rick Threlfall told the Courier-Mail destructive winds will be felt up to 200km either side of it when the cyclone hits south of Cairns tomorrow night.
He warned destructive winds will certainly be felt by the afternoon.
12:24am: Cyclone Yasi has been upgraded to Category Four and is likely to cross the coast earlier than expected at 10pm Wedneday evening, according to the latest update from the Bureau of Meteorology.
The cyclone is currently 810km east north east of Cairns and moving west south west at 30km/h.
“Things are changing and will probably continue to change,” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said.
11:40pm: Airlines revealed they will stop operating with QantasLink already ceasing flights, and Qantas and Continental’s last flights will be tonight.
It comes as airlines Jetstar has added 1200 extra seats to get tourists out of the cyclone danger area.
10:35pm: More than 30,000 Queenslanders are being relocated in a desperate bid to protect them from the fury of Cyclone Yasi, as authorities brace for a massive assault on the state, the Courier Mail reported.
The massive tropical storm stretching several hundred kilometres is tipped to harass residents for more than 24 hours.
9.46pm: More than 29,000 Cairns residents have been put on notice of mandatory evacuation as Cyclone Yasi continues on a potentially deadly collision course with the tourist mecca. Hundreds are already running to higher ground.
9.34pm: Evacuation centres will open in the Cairns region from 6am (AEST) tomorrow at Redlynch College – Jungara Road; JCU Student Accommodation, McGregor Road, Smithfield; Trinity Beach Public School, Wewak St (replacing Smithfield High School), Woree High School, Rigg St; Mossman Indoor Sports Centre, Front St; and Babinda RSL, School St (from 7am).
9.09pm: The latest weather bureau update show Cyclone Yasi will cross the coast as a category four between Cairns and Innisfail overnight tomorrow.
cyclone yasi map 9pm AEDT February 1
8.44pm: An update from Cairns Airport: Qantaslink has stopped flights out of Cairns. Qantas and Continental will stop flying from Cairns tonight. Virgin’s 8.20am (9.20am AEDT) flight out of Cairns tomorrow appears likely to be the last commercial departure before the airport closes at 10am (11am AEDT) until further notice.
7.37pm: While most Far North Queenslanders are buying baked beans ahead of monster cyclone Yasi, Harry Kunz is stocking up on rats and mice. The unusual emergency supplies are for the 186 animals and birds at his Eagles Nest Wildlife Sanctuary, including the world’s first known albino blue wing kookaburra siblings.
7.20pm: Preparations for those in affected areas should include withdrawing sufficient funds from ATMs, in case of power outages, authorities say. An image taken by Getty in Townsville today:
A Townsville resident uses an ATM of a closed bank which has had its windows taped and sandbgas placed inside ahead of Cyclone Yasi on February 1, 2011 in Townsville, Australia. The cyclone is forecasted to hit the north coast of Queensland early Thursday morning with winds reaching speeds of 280 kilometres an hour. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images
6.38pm: Port Douglas Daintree Tourism Association spokesman Doug Ryan is staying upbeat as the tourist haven north of Cairns battens down the hatches. “The takeaway bottle shop is doing a roaring trade … There’s always the odd cyclone party … but it’s a bit more serious than usual.”
6.22pm: At one Cairns caravan park, residents and visitors are preparing to shelter in a toilet block if they need to. Sunland Leisure Park spokesman George Piggott says campers have left the property, but about 100 people had chosen to stay. “It’s (the amenities block) solid brick and it will take a hell of a lot to knock that down,” he said.
6.19pm: How Yasi compares with past cyclones (courtesy of The Courier-Mail):
cyclone comparison graphic inside
Source: The Courier-Mail
6.04pm: The weather bureau has released an updated forecast for Cyclone Yasi, warning of gusts above 170km/h between Port Douglas and Cardwell tomorrow evening.
cyclone yasi map
Cyclone Yasi forecast track map released by the weather bureau at 6pm (AEDT) on February 1, 2011.
5.24pm: Parts of Cairns will see a storm surge of up to 2m when Cyclone Yasi hits, expected to be about 1am (AEST) on Thursday. State disaster management coordinator Ian Stewart said the storm surge would be lower than originally feared, but would still be very significant. “I can’t give specific street names but certainly, I’ve seen the (electronic) map and it’s quite extensive,” he said. Metropolitan Cairns would see significant inundation, he said.
5.07pm: Snippets from Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s latest update: “This storm is huge and it is life-threatening … I know many of us will feel that Queensland has already borne about as much as we can bear when it comes to disasters and storms, but more is being asked of us – and I am confident that we are able to rise to this next challenge.”
4.46pm: Forecasters say severe tropical cyclone Yasi is on track for a direct hit on Cairns, but that could still change before it makes landfall about 1am (AEST) on Thursday.
4.42pm Airlines have hit back at reports they were hiking up their fares to take advantage of the exodus from Far North Queensland as the region prepares for Cyclone Yasi. A Qantas spokesman said it was charging standard commercial rates, and Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway said its fares from Cairns were normal.
4.16pm A gallery of the worst cyclones of Australia’s history could be an indication of the kind of damage Yasi might bring.
3.54pm University campuses and schools in Far North Queensland have been closed for the rest of the week.
3.23pm The Bureau of Meteorology has released an updated tracking map of cyclone Yasi. The graph shows the centre of the storm hitting Cairns as a Category three just before 1am (AEST) on Thursday morning, and reaching inland Croydon 12 hours later as a Category one.
BOM1359 tracking Yasi
3.11pm There’s panic buying in Cairns as people stock up on supplies before they batten down the hatches, retailers have told AAP.
A spokeswoman for Bilo Cairns said the supermarket was “chockers” all morning with people scrambling for tins of baked beans, batteries, torches and bottled water.
“The queues are huge,” she said, adding that supermarkets in far north Queensland are always well stocked for cyclone season.
“We prepare three months in advance,” she said.
3.03pm Authorities will evacuate 250 patients from two north Queensland hospitals as Cyclone Yasi approaches, with the air force to take patients to hospitals in safe areas.
The air force will take patients to Brisbane hospitals, which had been placed on a “code brown” alert, meaning some elective surgery would be cancelled to make room.
2.58pm That ominous animation that Anna Bligh has been standing in front of during her press conferences? You can see it for yourself here. It’s from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and captures the sheer scale of the storm.
yasi radar image
This satellite image shows Cyclone Yasi bearing down on the Queensland coastline.
2.32pm Townsville Council and Ergon Energy have set up Facebook accounts to get information out to affected people and already have thousands of followers.
The Ergon Energy page operates during events which impact power supply to regional Queensland.
Ergon Energy spokesman John Fowler told ABC North Queensland they are interested to see how effective it is.
“But the learnings we’ve seen from the other agencies in Queensland that used it and used it very effectively for the Brisbane floods – it was really quite astounding,” he said.
Townsville Council also have a Twitter which you can find here or by searching for @TCC_News.
2.24pm A graphic posted by the WhitsundaysOnline Twitter account shows the projected wind force of the cyclone as it travels across the state. Access it here to see rolling images that show forcasted gusts of 40 metres per second.
Euro WIND forecast Yasi
Pic: Twitter user @QLDWhitsundays
2.04pm Update from Premier Anna Bligh, standing once again in front of a screen showing the unsettling radar image of Yasi moving towards the coast on a loop. Key points:
Cairns hospital is being evacuated. Bligh says the record needs to be checked but it would appear this is the first time that a big regional hospital in Queensland has been entirely evacuated.
Some airports may close as early as this evening.
Emergency authorities are pleased that a large number of people have decided to self-evacuate. Police are asking people who are travelling southbound to be “very patient, and very careful” to avoid officers having to deal with road incidents or “road squabbles” as heavy traffic moves out of the area.
1.43pm It’s mayhem in parts of north Queensland. The ABC reports on some of the mass evacuations underway, while some residents who have witnessed some of the region’s biggest cyclones say they are more nervous about this one than any before. Excerpt:
Entire suburbs in some parts of north and far north Queensland will have to be evacuated today and airlines are putting on extra flights to evacuate residents.
Airports and major roads are expected to be shut tomorrow, with destructive winds expected to hit by early morning. Low-lying coastal areas may also be affected by storm surges and flash flooding.
… Innisfail resident Jacqueline Copley is more worried about Yasi than any other cyclone in the past.
“I’ve seen Winifred, I’ve seen Larry, I’ve seen all the small ones,” she said.
“We came off pretty good in those ones – just a little bit of damage here and there. But this one has me rattled. Cyclones don’t normally scare me, but this one – I’m quite nervous.
“This one’s a lot bigger, she’s a lot meaner.”
More here. Meanwhile, Reuters has filed a story on its international wire describing the storm as “rivalling the strength of Hurricane Katrina” which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
1.30pm Tourists are fleeing the approaching cyclone as airlines put on extra flights to help, while denying accusations they have increased the fares.
Jetstar Spokesman Simon Westaway said another 350 beyond those already booked on flights this morning would be able to leave Cairns late today but priority was being given to people with existing Jetstar bookings.
Townsville, Proserpine and Hamilton Island airports are expected to close after the last flights tonight.
Mr Westaway said he had not yet been advised on whether Mackay, Townsville and Cairns airports would close.
He denied reports the airline was hiking up its fares to take advantage of the exodus, saying fares from Cairns on Wednesday were normal – from $139 to Brisbane, $169 to Melbourne and $149 to the Gold Coast.
“We are not in any way, shape or form changing the price of seats,” Mr Westaway told AAP.
1.15pm Rio Tinto has shut its coal mine at Hail Creek in central Queensland ahead of a massive cyclone that will batter the flood weary state.
“This is shaping as a much larger and faster moving system which could impact a wider area, in what is an already saturated landscape following Cyclone Anthony,” a Rio Tinto spokesman said today.
“All employees have left site with the exception of a skeleton crew of volunteers that will monitor essential services only.”
12.55pm About 100 cats and dogs will board flights to safety on Tuesday as the RSPCA moves animals out of the destructive path of Tropical Cyclone Yasi.
The RSPCA’s Townsville shelter is asking all pet owners to check whether they have animals at the shelter and have dropped collection charges in a bid to empty the pound, RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said.
Dogtainers and Toll Air Express will help relocate close to 100 animals from Townsville to Brisbane with the first shipment flying out on Tuesday, he said.
The animals will briefly stop over at Brisbane’s Fairfield shelter, which is still being repaired after the city’s floods, before being moved into foster care or re-homed through other southeast Queensland shelters.
12.50pm A satellite image from the Japan Meteorological Agency shows the size of cyclone Yasi as it approaches the Queensland coast.
Satellite image of Cyclone Yasi Pic: Japan Meteorological Agency
12.45pm Reuters reports that the country’s largest coal freight company, QR National, has suspended operations on two rail networks ahead of the cyclone.
Its major Goonyella network, feeding into the coking-coal export terminals of Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point, and its smaller Newlands line were temporarily suspended, a spokesman said.
The inland coal mines are still pumping water out of their pits after the recent floods. Even if the cyclone causes no damage, industry body the Queensland Resources Council estimates it will take until March for coal miners to return to normal.
12.30pm The Queensland Times reports the operators of the Wivenhoe Dam are ready to release water in anticipation of cyclone Yasi.
Seqwater said they will consider dropping the reservoir below its current 100 per cent capacity should more rain hit the region.
However Seqwater spokesman Mike Foster said there was no rush to decide.
“Certainly one of the options being looked at – and not the only option being looked at – is reducing flood storage levels so we would be effectively starting a flood event at a lower level,” Mr Foster said.
12.01pm This just in from Rockhampton’s Morning Bulletin, in a report saying the Capricornia Coast is “safer”.
DESPITE damaging winds from tomorrow morning, Cyclone Yasi isn’t expected to affect the region’s coastal communities as much as first predicted.
Due to the size of this system the region will still see high winds of up to 100 km from tomorrow morning, rainfall of up to 100mm in a 48 hour period, and higher than average tides.
However exact tidal heights for the Capricorn Coast won’t be known until further modelling is completed today.
Read on here.
11.58am NASA has released a stunning satellite image of Yasi as it gathers strength off the Queensland coast.
Cyclone Yasi satellite image NASA
The full image is here.
11: 45am A hotline has been set up to keep track of people forced to leave their homes as Cyclone Yasi approaches the north Queensland coast.
Affected residents are being urged to register their details with authorities by calling 1300 993 191.
Inquiries about people caught up in the cyclone emergency can be made to the same number.
International inquiries can be made via +61 7 3055 6220.
Police urged anyone who has evacuated or who is travelling in north Queensland to register on the National Registration and Inquiry System (NRIS) “so friends and family are able to reassure themselves you are safe and that emergency services are able to concentrate on looking for individuals who may be missing as opposed to simply out of contact.”
People can also register with the NRIS system online at the Red Cross website.
11:30am Severe tropical Cyclone Yasi will hit the north Queensland coast with greater ferocity than devastating Cyclone Larry, Premier Anna Bligh says.
Larry damaged about 10,000 homes and caused $1.5 billion in damage.
Ms Bligh also warned residents:
“This is such a big system that this eye could last for more than an hour and at the end of that period the next thing that will be felt is the strongest possible winds… this storm is huge and it is life threatening.”
Anyone wanting to leave the region by air had only Tuesday to do so, Ms Bligh said.
11.25am Traffic at Woree, south of Cairns, from a local webcam.
traffic cam far nth qld
Traffic banking up in Woree, far north Queensland Pic: TMR QLD
More cameras here.
10:40am Premier Bligh: “People need to take action between now and tomorrow morning by which time in the high impact areas it will be unsafe for travel”.
There will most probably be mandatory evacuation orders by lunchtime today.
A pre-emptive disaster declaration was signed this morning to allow for mandatory evacuation powers if needed.
10:35am All schools in far north Queensland district down to south of Townsville will be closed for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Letters will be sent today confirming.
10:30am Anna Bligh announces in a press conference that Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin will be putting on extra flights today for those who want to leave areas.
10:15am Queensland is facing a “potentially very deadly event”, the premier says, but emergency services are ready for Cyclone Yasi.
Anna Bligh has headed into a meeting of the state disaster management group, where authorities will refine preparations for what could be the state’s worst cyclone.
“This is a very, very big storm event,” Ms Bligh told ABC radio before heading into the meeting, where the issue of compulsory evacuations would be considered.
She said the size of Yasi meant many communities either side of where it made landfall could expect to see the impacts of “serious storm surges, flooding torrential rain and gale force winds”.
She said north Queensland residents would need to “prepare themselves mentally for what I think will be quite frightening to those who experience it”.
She said extra police had been deployed into north Queensland and other backup teams were ready to go in once the cyclone had crossed the coast.
She said authorities would be doorknocking some low-lying areas on Tuesday, urging at-risk residents to leave.
“I just appeal to everybody: if you have an emergency services worker or a police officer asking you to relocate please co-operate with them. They’re trying to keep you and your family safe.”
9:20am Communities between Cooktown and Townsville are most at risk of a direct hit from severe tropical cyclone Yasi, forecasters say.
But coastal communities aren’t the only ones in the danger zone, with the Bureau of Meteorology warning communities as far inland as Mt Isa could see cyclonic conditions.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Gordon Banks said communities will be at risk from the damaging winds but also from a very large storm surge due to the vast size of the cyclone.
“At this stage we’re looking at a Wednesday late-evening crossing,” he told ABC radio.
7:45am On Tuesday morning, Yasi was still well out to sea but had intensified to a severe category three system.
It’s expected to cross the coast as a severe category four, with winds gusting up to 250km/h, very late on Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
Yasi is expected to deliver a very large storm surge, and the bureau is working to provide emergency services with the latest advice so they can better focus evacuation efforts.
But some communities are not waiting.
Island resorts in the Whitsundays are being evacuated along with low-lying parts of other communities in the danger zone, initially said to reach as far south as Proserpine, near Mackay.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has warned the cyclone could be the worst the state’s ever seen, with the potential to cause “powerful and deadly” flash flooding, especially in low-lying areas near the coast.
Whitsundays Mayor Mike Brunker told AAP there was a sense of urgency in the community.
“People in low-lying areas are evacuating to friends and family or, if they have to, leave town,” Mr Brunker said.
“They should be very anxious as there’s no time for complacency.”
He said residents had been panic buying food and supplies since Cyclone Anthony, which crossed the coast near Bowen late on Sunday night as a category two storm. It caused little damage.