Australia storm bears down

It’s not just the United States facing big weather today, Australia has problems of a different nature.

Expected to remain a strong category 4 storm with sustained winds in excess of 175 miles per hour, Cyclone Yasi has Australians running for safety. The storms intensity and 400-mile wide size is expected to go as far as 600 miles inland, threatening more than 400,000 people in its path.

“There’s no time for complacency,” Mike Brunker, mayor of the Whitsunday area near the Great Barrier Reef told Reuters. “People in low-lying areas are evacuating to friends and family or, if they have to, leave town.”

Coal mines, rail lines and coal ports were closed in Queensland state as the massive storm headed toward the coast. Up to a third of Australia’s sugar crop was also under threat

“This storm is huge and life threatening,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told NewsDaily, warning the system was intensifying and picking up speed on its path from the Coral Sea, with destructive winds expected from Wednesday morning.

The situation worsens by the hour. 40,000 people were evacuated from the coastal areas overnight, Carins airport is expected to close on Wednesday and Tropical rains have been battering the area since November.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said residents up and down the coast needed to prepare. “It’s such a big storm – it’s a monster, killer storm – that it’s not just about where this crosses the coast that is at risk”

Photo: Reuters