The category five storm is the worst cyclone to ever hit Australia. Here are some facts about the massive weather system:
Size: 310 miles wide
Winds: up to 186mph
Storm surge: up to 20ft high
Rainfall: 27 inches
Eye: measures 20 miles wide
Expected to hit at 10pm local time (1200 GMT) close to the town of Innisfail
Area on high alert: 400-mile stretch of coast from Cairns to Mackay
Homes at risk of flooding: more than 10,000
Number of people likely to be affected: 350,000
Number of people evacuated from the cyclone’s path: 30,000
The last large cyclone to hit Queensland was Cyclone Larry in 2006. Larry was a category four storm. It destroyed hundreds of homes in Innisfail and caused $1.5bn worth of damage. One person was killed. Cyclone Yasi is twice the size of Larry.
The worst most deadly cyclone to hit Australia was Cyclone Tracy, which devastated the Northern Territory capital of Darwin in 1974, killing 71 people.
IF you’re struggling to grasp the magnitude of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, consider this: it is so large it would almost cover the United States, most of Asia and large parts of Europe.
Most of the coverage about the scale of Yasi has tried to compare it with storms of the past – it’s bigger than Larry, more powerful than Tracy.
But just as powerful is this comparison, showing this storm is continental in size. The main bloc of the cyclone is 500km wide, while its associated activity, shown above in a colour-coding to match intensity, stretches over 2000km.
The storm’s scale of destruction is as shocking as it is inevitable. In the map above, the United States from Pennsylvania in the east to Nevada in the west, from Georgia in the south to Canada in the north and well into Mexico would be battered with 300km/h winds and up to one metre of rain.
The economic impact would be felt around the world.