Yasi brings destruction to Australia as social media prepares to help

As blizzard conditions strand motorists across the Midwest and chaos in Cairo continues as Mubarak backers and opponents clash, Australia is now feeling the effect of Cyclone Yasi, believed to be their biggest-ever storm. What was a waiting game of “Where exactly will it hit?” and “How bad will it be?” has become the harsh reality that unprecedented destruction is at hand.

“The large, destructive core of Cyclone Yasi is starting to cross the coast between Innisfail and Cardwell with a dangerous storm tide and battering waves to the south of the cyclone centre,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.

ABC news reports that “North Queensland residents will be greeted by scenes of destruction at first light when the full impact of Cyclone Yasi is revealed.”

Just downgraded to a category 4 storm, high winds continue to batter homes, businesses and public areas. Australians are dug in and now being cut off from the outside world as power lines go down and communication is disrupted. Still, those with a signal are getting the word out and the world prepares to help, communicating with friends and loved ones via Twitter and Facebook.Social media platforms are jumping over Yasi too. On Twitter, using the hashtag #Yasi and #TCYasi, user @StudioLaville urges those who can help to register even before the storm passes:

Retweet! Register your ability to help or need for help at Help North Queensland. Free. http://helpnorthqueensland.com #Yasi #TCYasi

Still 180 kph readings in Queensland #yasi

On Facebook, more than 40,000 people have joined the Cyclone Yasi Update page which added:

Police in Mackay and Gladstone have had no major incidents reported to them as a result of the cyclone at this early stage. (please keep in mind there will be a lot of unknowns until first light) (Julie)

Tully devastated – winds very strong before and after the eye passed. Many many roofs off, as Larry did to Innisfail. People seeking refuge in their cars. Councilor Ross Cabello who has witnessed many cyclones, said this was far and away the worst he’s ever seen. He states that there are many, many houses damaged – roofs destroyed. (Chris)

CNN Video

Update: Monster Cyclone Yasi slams Australia coast

The biggest storm in the country’s modern history has reached Australia’s coast with winds stronger than that of hurricane Katrina.

Hundreds of thousands of people have filled evacuation centers and homes. Tourists hunker down in their hotels as Yasi slams the Australia coast. Tens of thousands are without power across a region the size of Germany and France combined.

“I can’t sugarcoat this for people, it’s going to be a very tough 24 hours,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told reporters in Brisbane yesterday. “Without doubt we are set to confront scenes of devastation and heartbreak.”

Cyclone Yasi is expected to hit the North-east coast of Austraila in the next few hours.

The last cyclone of such strength to cross the state was in 1918 and this one would be “terrifying”.Mrs Bligh told the BBC.

Keeping in touch with friends and family or getting a good idea of what is happening may soon be difficult. Austailan Government’s Bureau of Meteorlogy allows us to watch Live images of the massive storm. Another site, suggested by reader Nicola, Cyclone Video HQ has the most recent video feeds from ground level.

Photo: NOAA

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