Will Super Cyclone Yasi be Australia’s Katrina? Landfall Wed as Cat 5 Storm

This is what climate change looks like

[Stunning satellite photo of Yasi on landfall here.]

[Update 24:00 EST Feb 2. Can it be true? No one has been killed or seriously injured? If that holds up over the next few days it will be absolutely stunning. Kudos to Australian govt and Australians.

[Update 17:30 EST Feb 2. Yasi has moved well inland leaving devastated coastal towns and landscape behind – houses flattened, 90% of trees broken, not a leaf left on bushes. Pix here

[Update 10:30 EST Feb 2 LANDFALL: South of Cairns at the beautiful town of Mission Beach as Cat 5. This is where Cyclone Larry came ashore in 2006, the worst cyclone in 100 yrs, and destroyed much of the area. The last 1500 endangered cassowaries — large flightless bird — live in the jungles there.

[Update: 18:00 EST Feb 1- Yasi landfall expected at high tide bringing storm surge of 3-4 9! metres propelled by 280-300 kph winds. City of Cairns in direct path. “Catastrophic” storm says Premier]

Following the recent record-breaking flooding, Queensland, Australia’s is facing yet another extreme weather event as super cyclone Yasi bears down on them. Yasi is expected to reach has reached dangerous Category 4 5 strength, generating winds of up to 280 300 kph when it hits the Queensland state coast early on Thursday (2pm Wednesday, GMT). Yasi is a huge storm as the satellite image above shows – it is about 600-700 km diameter making it an extremely large cyclone (cover half the USA). (Latest Met service satellite imagery)

For comparison Hurricane Katrina was also very large but only about a Cat 1 or 2 on landfall based on final data from NOAA that went largely unreported. Katrina’s storm surge caused most of the damage which could be the case with Yasi. One major difference is that Queensland does not have a major city on the coast (or even a small one protected by poorly designed levees). Shockingly even a year after Katrina more than 500,000 people remained displaced.

Large areas of Queensland are still underwater or mud-covered from flooding just 2 weeks ago that caused billions of dollars in damage. It was so bad that Australians now have to pay a temporary flood damage tax to help cover the costs… And now Yasi.

Australia may need a permanent climate change disaster tax.

This is what climate change looks like – record-breaking extreme weather events. The Queensland floods nor Yasi are the direct result of climate change. However because burning fossil fuels traps more of the sun’s heat in the atmosphere the odds and strength of extreme events increase as climate science has stated for two decades now. Here is my latest article on this The Yin and Yang of Climate Extremes We Will See More of.

Climate change loads the dice in favour of extreme events. Queensland has been very unlucky lately. Help them out if you can. — Stephen

This independent environmental journalism depends on public support. Click here learn more.

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13 thoughts on “Will Super Cyclone Yasi be Australia’s Katrina? Landfall Wed as Cat 5 Storm

  1. what is the projected path? it looks just like Katrina.

    It could cause huge destruction between Townsville & Cairns- or hit either city.

  2. One major difference is that Queensland does not have a major city on the coast


    the population is over 160000 in cairns alone, a stone’s throw from the water.

    • Bianca, Cairns is a lovely city and I hope for the best. But it is far smaller than New Orleans metro region that had about 1.5 million people before Katrina. And at least a million more lived along the affected Gulf coast.

      • While I don’t wish to make this a competition, Cairns population is about 122,000 & Townsville’s is about 181,000 and in the surrounding areas the regions population is probably between 350,000 and 400,000. When you take this as a percentage of the countries overall population the percentage effected it is greater than the 2.5m you mention above.
        The effect has however been less of an issue due to topography. In North QLD however as neither major city has been built on the mouth of a major river on such low land and therefore the effect of storm surge has been significantly less.
        The Australian Governments response will also be 100 times better than that by the US Government (which showed the rest of the world how not to do it) after Katrina and therefore the long term effects will also be less.

      • Sorry just to qualify the figures in my pervious post, the 350,000 to 400,000 i refer to includes the populations of both Cairns and Townsville. I realised upon reading it again that I did not make this very clear.

  3. Yeah, Super Cyclone. Cyclone Tip i think was the biggest ever recorded cyclone at Cat 5 and stretching over 2000 Kms. Yasi is already that big, and has stronger winds. Katrina was a kitten in comparison

  4. This was not caused by human climate change. This is a regular process and occurs every so often. The last big big one was in 1974 in Darwin.

    Australia is not proposing a “Climate Change” tax, it is an environmental disaster tax.

    Get your facts straight otherwise you look like a fool (for a reporter!)

    • You will actually have to read the links in the story about the connection between extreme weather and climate change. No where did I say Yasi was caused by climate change.

      As for the tax what I said was: “Australia MAY need a permanent climate change disaster tax.”

      You need to read a lot more carefully before coming to any conclusions.

    • By the last big one in 1974 if you are referring to Tracy you are sadly mistaken. She did a lot of a damage yes but she was tiny. She was only around 50km wide, a 12km eye, with wind speeds up to 225km

      Comparing that to Katrina at 190km wide, a 60km eye and winds up to 280km

      Larry was 240km wide, a 50km eye and winds of 240km

      While Yasi was ~650km wide, a ~100km eye and winds of ~285km.

  5. James, there is little question that Australia is far better at handling disasters like Yasi than the US. And simply having much better building standards makes a huge difference.

    I have been to Queensland and driven Townsville to Cairns – its like 300 km. So those 300- 400,000 people are spread over a huge area. It’s an amazing piece of the world so I’m not trying to diminish the impacts.

    I’m delighted to hear no one has been killed — that is truly stunning if it holds up

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