Yasi – it’s big, bad, ugly and coming our way

This morning Cyclone Yasi was upgraded to category 5 with winds up to 295kph. That could go to 320kph.

Yasi, early 2 February 2011

The projected path is here:

Cyclone Yasi expected path

The suggestion is that it could be still a category 2 when it’s 400km inland.

Townsville is evacuating 15,000 people.

For some time now, Anna Bligh has been using the term “life-threatening”.

The NOAA link is here.

More from Brisbane Times and the Courier Mail.

The previous post is here.

Update: Here’s a screen shot from the BOM site from 12.15am with the eye over Mission Beach, near Tully about 50km south of Innisfail:

Yasi over Mission Beach at 12.15 am

130 thoughts on “Yasi – it’s big, bad, ugly and coming our way”

  1. Just heard the staff were evacuated from Willis Island, yesterday, and it is currently self running.

  2. Here’s the latest Willis Island satellite image. I think these things look more or less ferocious depending on how the colours are calibrated. The significant aspect is the size of the eye, which is 35km wide and would take an hour or more to pass over.

    The latest landfall time I heard is 10pm tonight, an hour after high tide, which can’t be good.

  3. Listening to Anna Bligh. With cat 5 electricity transmission towers could come down. They expect 150,000 to 200,000 to lose power. Much of the planning now is on how to restore services, how to get food and fuel in etc.

    Telstra and Optus are bringing a temporary satellite service to Mackay to move into the area ASAP to potentially restore mobile phone services.

    Bloke now telling people that if you lose your roof, that as such won’t kill you.

  4. Observations from Willis are still coming in, just seems like the radar is out. Eye pressure at 938.0 hPa so pretty low.

    The maximum wind gust I can see is 185 km/hr, but I’m not sure whether the anemometer would be able to take much more than that so there might be some measurement saturation there.

  5. Jess, the wind speed gadget karked it when it hit 185kph. I think some of the other observations are still working.

  6. This is so worrying. I was a child when Althea hit but that was a baby compared to Yasi. I often check a weathercam in my old home town. I just hope that as many people as possible leave the coastal areas.

  7. Thinking about you all in Northern Queensland, even though we live in Northern Ireland at the other side of the world. We have been in the Cairns area seveal times and love it. We did live in Oz years ago and know that the people will support each other.
    You are all in our prayers
    Merv & Joan

  8. Expecting gales to begin about midday. No time to be on the roads. Anna Bligh says people have an hour left to move to safer ground if they haven’t done it.

    Expecting storm surge to 4 metres in some places and possibly 700mm of rain.

  9. Hi all, have just spoken to family in Cairns and they’re waiting…rain and squalls so far, but they’re hyper aware it’s coming. That weatherchaser vid was amazing, but totally terrifying too.
    Stay safe FNQ!

  10. Radar from Townsville and Cairns shows the rain sweeping through – best wishes to everyone. the rest of Australia is paying attention to what is happening.

  11. Rob Blackley, the former Palm Island Mayor is reporting on 7 that the community there was not offered evacuation when the surrounding resort islands were. 70% of housing on Palm Island structurally unsound according to a recent report, he is saying. The evacuation centre is very close to shore so he is reporting that he would not go there. He says it’s the same old story regarding Aboriginal people. I fear for the people there. It’s a low lying area.

  12. Yeah it is not like Magnetic, further south where there is plenty of higher ground and leeward slopes to provide some kind of protection from surge and winds.

  13. Yungaburra, Atherton Tableland: 5pm – wind gusts building in strength and sounds of tree branches cracking: power still on at this stage but expect to lose overnight.Everything tied down, buckets of water at strategic points,chainsaw serviced and ready to go, torches & candles at the ready………….have I forgotten anything, oh yes g&t with freshly picked sliced limes, aaaah !


  14. I’m pretty disturbed to hear Yasi is bigger than cyclone Tracey in 1974.
    And bloody hell, that doesn’t sound good re Palm island.

  15. “Holy shit. How could they not evacuate Palm Island?’

    I’m assuming it’s because PI is off Townsville at the edge of the highest risk zone. It’s inside the reef and offers people higher ground to move to in the event of a major storm surge. Presumably risk assessment puts it outside evacuation parameters. But – I don’t know.

  16. @47 That article has now been changed to “Palm Island ready for Yasi, mayor says”


    “We’ve been planning for these events of many years,” Mr Lacey, who is also chairman of the Local Disaster Management Group, said.

    “We planned before Cyclone Anthony (which crossed into north Queensland on January 30) when it was predicted.

    “Palm certainly is in safe hands and everything is in order,” Mr Lacey told AAP.

    “Evacuation centres are open if people are not feeling safe at home.

    “I certainly don’t need panic buttons being pushed because it will just turn that situation into a more worser situation than what it is.

    “Giving those wrong messages out to the wider public is probably not useful when you’re trying to unite the community around an event like this.”

  17. “I’m pretty disturbed to hear Yasi is bigger than cyclone Tracey in 1974.”

    Interesting fact: Tracey was the *smallest* hurricane or tropical cyclone ever recorded until 2008, with gale force winds extending only 50km from the eye. Darwin was really in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The most *intense* cyclone ever recorded was Olivia, which hit Australia in 1996.


  18. The CIA are behind Yasi you realise….they have sent this to smash Magnetic Island as a warning to Julian Assange. ( Its his home town, of course.)

  19. Good to see that Business Spectator lists this story in the Climate Change category.

    SOI Index is crazy bad this year.

  20. Craigy @60: “How was Olivia more *intense* than Mahina?”

    You could measure wind gusts, sustained wind speed, Atmospheric pressure. Based on gusts, the World Meteorogical Organisation says:

    “Geneva, 22 January 2010 (WMO) – According to a recent review conducted by a panel of experts in charge of global weather and climate extremes within the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl) the record of wind gusts not related to tornados registered to date is 408 km/h during Tropical Cyclone Olivia on 10 April 1996 at Barrow Island, Australia. The previous record was of 372 km/h, registered in April 1934 across the summit of Mount Washington, USA.”


  21. The ‘Iffrit’ or genie is out of the bottle or copper sealed jar. Don’t tell anyone! Genie or Jin as the Qu’ran calls them ‘the fire of a scorching wind’ is amongst us if you look up at the sky anywhere in Australia or the world. The Genie take the form of bellowing clouds as well as scorching fiery wind. We need to be careful what we wish for at this time. We may only have three wishes.. ..
    We ‘may prevail’ in this battle but its a war, like that in Afghanistan, we should not be fighting against nature. Its a matter of reciprocity. We consume all that dirty energy, it does not disappear; Nature gives it back to us but in forms that escalate and kill.

  22. DR@70
    Olivia sustained wind speed 195 kph
    Mahina sustained wind speed 280 kph.

    As for wind gust, It took from 10 april 1996 to 26 jan 2010 to confirm by WMO .

    Mahina 914(hPa).Olivia 925(hPa)

    Mahina surge 48 feet. Olivia surge 6.6 feet

    Good try mate.

  23. @72 – the measured wind gust in Olivia appears to have been in a tornado or similar feature embedded in the eyewall (which made a direct hit on an instrument which lived to tell the tale). It’s not indicative of the general wind speed of Olivia (which was ‘only’ a category 4).

    ‘Strongest ever’ is difficult to quantify because so few cyclones have their maximum intensity instrumentally measured (although since the 1980s we have pretty consistent satellite data). Mahina is almost certainly the strongest ever observed in Queensland but it’s unclear how it would rank against the most intense cyclones elsewhere (such as Monica in the NT in 2006). The northwest WA coast would experience something of Yasi’s intensity (if not necessarily its size) a couple of times a decade on average.

    (Disclosure: I was one of the ‘panel of experts’ for the Olivia report, although others contributed much more expertise to it than I did).

  24. too right Blair
    Monica was truly one of the worst.
    It just peeves me when people disregard events that happened, because it doesn’t suite the “worst ever, never before, unequaled in history” story.

  25. Right thread, Steve @73. The many toxins are exposed but not yet flushed out.
    A catagorisation of demons is one of the first legacies of ancient Mesopotamian culture ever recorded in writing…

  26. Amazing I still got power. The wind is not too strong yet expect it to go up soon, trees are already bending. Since we wont cop the eye we stay in the house and totally barricaded ourselves in. Dog tired, worked two days straight until now. Laid in bed for three hours last night and could not sleep. Incredible lightning show was on, which was associated with the approaching cyclone.

    Have a bit of a rest now and wait for the worst to come.

  27. Great to see you’re so well prepared, Ootz, all hunkered- down and ready for another spectacular performance from Yasi tonight. Best of luck to you, folks and garden.

  28. Kelly Higgins Devine (local radio) just talked to someone at Mission Beach. In the eye, no wind, stars shining.

  29. Yasi has now been downgraded to a Category 3 but is still regarded as dangerous and destructive. It is currently 130 km west of Cardwell.

  30. Message from Ootz:

    Message 2 all.

    Wife, chooks et moi r ok. Wind has eased @ 4am.

    No damage on house. It feels like army days, adrenalin pumping, dog tired and sleeping rough. Thank u 4 ur thoughts and best bwishes. Never underestimate nature.


  31. Anna Bligh is saying no deaths or major injuries reported so far. My impression is that storm surge proved less of a factor than anticipated. I reckon Cairns dodged a bullet because the the cyclone hit significantly south. However there is a secondary peak with the high tide this morning where the brave and/or foolish could be swept away. Waves right now breaking over the Esplanade and northern beaches with probable erosion.

    Tully, an older centre, apparently had 90% of buildings with severe damage. Mission Beach, smaller and newer, faired better.

    I heard that 174,000 customers are without power.

    Highest rainfall I’ve heard is 370mm near where the cyclone hit.

  32. Cardwell, population 2000 is a concern. Information coming through that most of town was evacuated, but less than 100 refused to go in spite of repeated requests. No mandatory evacuations in the sense of arresting and removing people took place. The authorities didn’t have time.

    Tidal surge was said to be 5m.

    There were calls for help last night, but emergency services couldn’t respond.

    Now road access is cut and no-one can get in. Communication now down and to a few smaller centres near by, which are also of concern.

    That info came from the Cassowary Coast mayor.

  33. Just heard Karl on Today talking to the Mayor of Palm Island. He particularly debunked reports mentioned above. Most/all residental structures cat5. Everyone ok.
    Glad ootz and family alright.

  34. joe 2, as far as I can make out, Larry hit Innisfail and then proceeded north of west to give the Atherton Tablelands a direct hit. Yasi hit about 50km further south and then angled away to the south.

    Townsville, 209km south of Tully, got a fair going over, but was probably outside the peak damage area. A lot of wind and rain and damage to a water treatment plant.

    Cairns is 142km north of Tully.

    Anna Bligh saying this mornings storm surge is probably worse than last night.

    Rainfall is causing flooding from Tully down to the Burdekin (Ayr) and the road to Charters Towers is cut.

    Innisfail is a bit of a mess, with power poles snapped off etc

    Emergency crews cut their way into Cardwell about 20 minutes ago. Significant damage on early reports.

    All is well (mostly) on Palm Island. Some roofs off but no major problems.

    Inland spine of power line is OK but there is a problem near Innisfail. Only 15% of Townsville has supply and power problems from Mackay to Cairns.

    After Larry it took 4 weeks to fully connect power.

  35. Glad Ootz and co. fared well. Bligh saying that powerlines down and some roofs off on Palm but no significant structural damage and water supply is secure. Emergency services have just cut through to Cardwell. Older houses there have been destroyed.

    There are smaller islands in the region that have not yet made contact.

  36. The ABC say they have spoken to a few people in Cardwell, so far no reports of people coming to grief.

  37. Much relieved to hear that Ootz is OK. Hope Steve and his pub fare as well! At least it’s a category 2 now rather than a category 3.

  38. So relieved that no one appears to be hurt (so far). Thank goodness for the internet and ABC 24 taking off their stupid geo-block, was able to watch the news this morning from chilly Canada.

  39. No-one has mentioned Ingham which is a town of 4,600 and about half way between Tully and Townsville. There was damage, of course, but Ingham is on the Herbert River, which floods at the drop of a hat. It’s still raining, the river is over 11m and rising, the town has no power and no water and probably won’t have for several days.

  40. I’ve just heard an interview with the mayor of Palm Island. He said the disaster planning c’tee had been working non-stop since Anthony went by. He said they made a decision not to “press the panic button” of mass evacuation of the island.

    He’s been out and about this morning, visited the three evacuation centres and some private homes. Everything is OK, he says.

  41. is relieved to hear -so far – no deaths or serious injuries in FNQ. That’s surely down to good preparation by government and citizens, solid infrastructure and improved building codes.

  42. Right now we have a cat 2 storm hitting Hughendon and Richmond, where such storms don’t go.

    I suspect Ootz has power and will emerge in due course.

    I’m signing off now until tonight.

  43. Thankyou, Brian, you have done a fantastic job of keeping us all informed. Some other great links on this thread, as well.
    Thanks, folks.

  44. is relieved to hear -so far – no deaths or serious injuries in FNQ. That’s surely down to good preparation by government and citizens, solid infrastructure and improved building codes

    Yeah apparently a lot was learned from Tracy and strict codes implemented to prevent deaths

  45. Sidebar on Yasi

    There has been a bit of banter about babies born in the cyclone. Apparently one of them was delivered in an evacuation centre at Redlynch State College by some holidaying nurse from Hemel Hempstead in the UK.

    For ten points, can anyone guess what shamefully wasteful federal program funded that that new school sports hall? Let’s see the first Liberal who notes that fact.

    Apparently Innisfail State High School (with a Category-5- rated School Hall also sheltered two mothers who went into labour (there’s a pun there surely) before being transferred to Innisfail Hospital to give birth.

  46. Thanks all for your thoughts and best wishes.

    Brian, I recon you are spot on with your assessment @100 and 104, those extra 50 km south made a hell of a difference for us and yes Cairns did dodge a bullet. My sympathy goes to the people on the Cassowary Coast and Hinterland.

    There are already the first murmurings that authorities have over reacted with evacuation and warnings up this way. In my opinion BoM and all the relevant Authorities deserve a medal, for AFAIK no life has been lost yet.

    Would be interesting to know how the pub at Georgetown fared, it does not often get visited by a cat 3.

  47. Thanks, joe2 @ 116.

    Ootz, I think you are right. I heard the deputy head of the disaster planning group say that he’d learnt from the Americans (of all people) to “go hard, go early”. Cairns would have been a mess with a direct hit, and we were a bit lucky with the tides also.

    The destruction shown on the TV tonight around Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell was stunning. Truly a war zone.

    Ootz, I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your text in like manner. My phone is specially designed to make it almost impossible for old geezers to learn these new arts.

    Some time ago my wife, who is good at this stuff if she applies herself, sat down with the manual and nutted it out. She showed me how to do it, but basically I have no need and when I tried I got into a hopeless mess. Nothing you press on the key pad relates directly to what appears.

    I was planning to collar her assistance, but she has a life and was far too busy.

    I reckon Yasi could turn up in SEQ as a rain depression via Alice Springs.

  48. Overnight the water supply was restored in Townsville. The city had been looking down the barrel of no water for anything for a population approaching 200,000.

  49. There has been one cyclone-related death: a 23-year-old man suffocated while using a generator in a confined place. Two people are missing in the Cardwell area.

  50. We never really lost power, a few brown outs yes. However, the internet got fluky, even this morning.

    No worries Brian, as it was, for various reasons, my wife had to type the message for me. We sent the same to all our friends and relies here and overseas. We were inundated with concerned phone calls, SMSs and emails after the floods in SEQ even though we were not affected at all. So I made a contact group on my mobile that I can use for such occasions. Very effective way of letting everyone concerned know what the situation is.

    No chance for remnant Yasi to wet SEQ, more like South Australia.

    The ‘go hard, go early’ strategy is effective but has a major drawback in that, people which did get warned of a massive impact or got evacuated and then experience minimal impact, as it happened in Cairns and up in the Tablelands this time, get very cynical or blase about such warnings in future. This is a well know phenomena and makes it extremely difficult for authorities to call the shots. With Yasi we knew for days that it was going to be an extremely large and intensive system. However, even though we have nowadays an amazing array of gadgetry (just checkout the Yasi Tech thread on WeatherZone) very experienced professionals to monitor these systems there is still a large element of unpredictable wobble involved. Just watch a spinning top, they can appear to spin quite stable, then do a large wobble and stabilise again. Such is the non linear nature of cyclones. Further, large systems, such as Yasi, can contain odd features such as tornadoes within them selves which can leave tracks of utter destruction on top of the ‘normal’ wind damage. Other contributing phenomenon such as eye wall replacement can have influence on damage at impact. As well as topography, on large and small scale can make a incredible difference in destruction. There is this picture taken after Cyclone Larry of a shed totally blown apart and roofless yet there is in the middle of it intact shelving with a bottle of beer on top of it, which apparently was not a prank. While clearing fallen trees, I have seen swaths of maybe 50m wide terrain where trees were lying in the opposite direction to all the other ones or not damaged at all. Valleys can be sheltered or funnels depending of situation. How does one make credible predictions with such chaotic behaving systems. Which brings me to an apology I have to make in relation to an earlier comment I made, in relation to the potential destructive force of Yasi. When I wrote of a 400km wide total destruction zone, I meant to say potential, as in between Cairns and Townsville. How wide and how deep inland the actual destruction zone is going to be is for the above reasons very hard to determine. So it is best to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

  51. “No chance for remnant Yasi to wet SEQ, more like South Australia.”

    Yes Ootz and most of Victoria is about to get a belting, as well. It’s a mighty and scary looking front approaching.

  52. Talking about the big bad and ugly, they arrested six people for looting in Townsville. Also their two Botanical Gardens utterly destroyed 75% of their trees gone. I helped cleaning up the Cairns Flecker Botanical Gardens twice after a cyclone and I don’t want to even imagine that scale of destruction.

    A cousin of mine in Switzerland which has backpacked through Oz made me aware of the utter destruction of an Aussie icon on the Far North Tropical Coast where all the buses stop and every one has his/her first taste of local Barramundi. Have a look at this Picture with Anna Bligh and Wain, indescribable scene change. These beautiful leafed Calophyllum inophyllum striped naked and just a skeleton of their former self, road and pavers just ripped, the beach strewn to the back blocks.

    Had a talk to few oldtimers in Cairns, as with Larry, it was very patchy which suburbs coped it. One mate recons it was worse than Larry, more vegetation damage. I was suprised because up in the lower Tablelands it was mild. However, Townsville by all accounts coped a fair whack. Which is interesting, because upto one day or so before crossing the BoM on their cyclone tracking map featured Yasi as a funny shaped circle. It appeared from it, that the north west quadrant of yasi was significantly less strong. Shortly before landing though it went back to feature a full circle.

  53. Nevermind me sublime, what about SATP and his pub. We have not heard of him yet, spose no communication. I bet though he still has some coldies!

  54. Yer, SATP, where are ye?

    Mildura had 150mm with more to come. Catchments in Vic will be groaning and some poor bastards will be flooded out for the third time.

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