Category 5 Cyclone Yasi crosses North Queensland coast near Mission Beach
Latest: 02:00 tracking map from BoM
UPDATE 2:00 Thursday 2 February, 2010: CATEGORY 5 SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast just south of Innisfail around midnight
21:00 Update: CATEGORY 5 SEVERE Tropical Cyclone Yasi is likely to cross the coast between Innisfail and Cardwell around 12am Thursday morning, according to the latest update from the Bureau of Meteorology.
17:00 Update: Cyclone Yasi is expected to cross the coast around 10pm Wednesday night between Innisfail and Cardwell. It's expected to push as far inland as Mount Isa, where it will still be a Category 1 system. The eye - with a width of approximately 35km - will take more than one hour to cross the coast and residents are reminded that the eye's accompanying calm is NOT the end of destructive winds.
12:30 Update: Cyclone Yasi is expected to cross the coast near Innisfail, in the latest update from the Bureau of Meterology.
Senior forecaster Rick Threlfall said while the area where the eye crosses is important, destructive winds will be felt up to 200km either side of it.
“Where exactly it crosses is slightly irrelevant,” he said.
“A large area either side is likely to see destructive or very destructive winds.”
“Things are changing and will probably continue to change.” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman said.
Live cyclone updates: twitter.com/cairnsnews
Up to 30,000 people were last night ordered to evacuate their homes and 250 hospital patients were flown out of the city with cyclone Yasi set to cross the coast between Cairns and Innisfail tonight or early tomorrow.
Premier Anna Bligh last night threw her Government’s support behind the people of the Far North and asked residents to stay calm and heed the instructions given by emergency services personnel.
Residents and businesses in the Cairns CBD, Machans Beach, Yorkeys Knob, Holloways Beach, Port Douglas and Bramston Beach have been told to seek refuge with friends and family by this morning ahead of the category 4 system’s expected crossing of the coast.
By the time it crosses the coast, between 9pm tonight and 3am tomorrow, cyclone Yasi is expected to lash towns from Cooktown to Cardwell and on the Tableland with winds up to 280km/h and up to 1m of rain in some areas.Cairns Council says some residents may need to evacuate before Cyclone Yasi | Avoiding crossing flooded roads with a storm surge | Cyclone Yasi could equal Larry, says Bureau of Meteorology | Far North watching Yasi closely | Be alert, not alarmed - preparation key in cyclones | Banana farmers fear for futures | North Queensland braces for two cyclones in a week | Ensure you don't create a cyclone missile | Call for review of cyclone alerts | In Pictures: Tropical Cyclone Yasi
Cyclone Yasi, described yesterday by Ms Bligh as a “monster killer storm”, is so large the eye is estimated to be 100km wide and will take an hour to pass, before more intense winds followed.
Text message alerts notified residents of the need to evacuate yesterday, and police and SES crews will doorknock homes this morning.
Temporary evacuation shelters have been set up at seven sites from Babinda to Mossman for people who are unable to find alternative accommodation.
Authorities hold grave concerns that cyclone Yasi could cross the coast as early as 9pm tonight, about the same time as high tide.
It would mean destructive winds will push a 2.5m surge of water towards the coast, on top of the expected 2.38m tide, flooding low-lying suburbs.
Far Northern Region Assistant Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the storm surge was of particular concern.
“That’s when issues arise, that’s when you get fatalities,” she said.
Eleven planes, including two Hercules transport planes from the Australian Defence Force, as well as the State Government air wing and Royal Flying Doctor Service started evacuating patients from Cairns Base Hospital and Cairns Private Hospital from 7pm last night.
Schools have been shut, CBD businesses boarded up, nursing homes evacuated and a temporary hospital emergency department will open at Fretwell Park sportsground, at Edmonton, from 9am today.
Hundreds of tourists flew out of Cairns yesterday ahead of the airport’s expected closure this morning, while resort islands were evacuated and boats moved to safer waters.
Stockland Earlville has offered to take thousands of residents in at 6am today and Pacific Toyota has offered trucks to supply evacuation centres.
Thousands of mattresses were being transported to Cairns last night.
The council has asked the military to help provide food and bedding rations to residents staying in evacuation centres.