At time of writing, cyclone Debbie is looming to make landfall at Bowen, south of Townsville on the Queensland coast:
Some 25,000 people around Mackay have been told to leave. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has been emphasising the danger from storm surge, although winds near the centre are expected to be up to 275 km/h, which is destructive. My understanding is that the surge could be 2.5 metres.
On the BOM satellite Debbie does not look as big and as ugly as Yasi.
I’ve copied below a sequence from my post Remembering the Brisbane floods.
Yasi brought broken houses:
piled up boats:
and utter devastation in Cardwell:
The experience of the summer is written on Premier Bligh’s face:
I must admit to shedding a tear or two when finding that one amongst the other images in the Brisbane Times photo gallery.
Ootz has posted a link to an article out from Nature, The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability, which indicates that the tropics may very soon be in the climatic firing line.
The latest I hear about cyclones is that there may be fewer of them as temperatures rise, but they are more likely to be more powerful and carry more water.
Ultimately, however, sea level rise will be devastating. My post on long-term sea level rise suggests that current CO2 levels may produce sea level rise of 25 metres. This is what the Mackay area looks with 20m SLR, from the Firetree flood maps:
Meanwhile the cyclone should cool the water to end the bleaching episode on the central part of the GBR. It’s just that reefs can get smashed up a bit with cyclones, but that is the lesser of the two evils.
Update: Here’s the BOM satellite image taken at 10am:
I heard on the radio last night that high tide was 9am, that the cyclone had slowed and was expected to make landfall about midday. The storm surge had been downgraded to a maximum of 1.7m. Rainfall is a factor sometimes stretching the perceptions of those in southern climes. BOM were expecting 150 to 250mm as a common first 24 hr total with individual falls up the 400mm. That’s nearly half a metre.
The subsequent rain depression should bring rain to much-needed places. A few weeks ago Queensland was 87% drought-declared. We could get rain in SEQ from about Wednesday pm.