Queenslanders have been told to prepare themselves for a terrifying 24 hours as the "most catastrophic storm ever" looms off the north Queensland coast. Tropical Cyclone Yasi has now been upgraded to a category 5 and people are frightened. Who wouldn't be with 300 km per hour winds forecast. Thousands of people have already left and hundreds more are trying to get out of of the danger zones. Tourists from the islands have now arrived on the mainland.
Premier Anna Bligh said "Frankly I don't think Australia has ever seen a storm of this intensity in an area as populated as this stretch of coast" she said. "We are facing an extreme event that will not be over in 24 hours but will possibly take several days before the full flooding effect is felt across the region as well, potentially right through to Mount Isa."
The weather bureau says that Yasi is an "extremely serious threat" to life and property within the warning area, especially between Port Douglas and Townsville. "This impact is likely to be more life-threatening than any experienced during recent generations" they said.
Senior bureau forecaster Gordon Banks said it could take 24 hours to weaken after it crosses the coast and has the potential to become even stronger. "If you are bunkering down in the region, it's going to be quite frightening and it's going to go on for quite some time."
Cyclone Tracy - a category 4 - hit Darwin in 1974, killing 71 people. Estimated time of arrival? 10 pm tonight.