Cyclone Yasi, Australia, 2011

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UPDATE: After the storm - 3 February 2011

The morning after Cyclone Yasi hit the coast of Queensland, the storm has been downgraded to Category 1 but is still causing damage as it moves inland through many farms and small communities.

At the time of writing there have been no reported deaths, but Yasi has left widespread devastation across the state, particularly in the townships of Cardwell, Tully, Innisfail and Mission Beach which bore the brunt of the storm. There is still a high risk of flooding in many areas.

ABC News - Cyclone Yasi in photographs

The Australian - Live coverage: Cyclone Yasi - the aftermath

  • Ask students to assess the potential reasons why there has been widespread structural damage but no loss of life.
  • How did forward planning contribute to this?
  • How important was the route that the cyclone took?
  • Was the cyclone linked to La Nina?
  • Will cyclones like Yasi become more frequent in the future?


Various industries in Queensland have also been badly affected by the storm:

Reuters - Australia cyclone may have destroyed 15 percent of sugar

Reuters - Australia cyclone shuts copper refinery, coal mines

The Australian - Australian banana price crisis looms again as Cyclone Yasi wipes out crop

  • What other industries do you think have been affected by the storm?
  • Consider different industries on the coast, in towns, in rural areas, particularly as the storm moves further inland.
  • What effect will damage to transport and communications infrastructures have on these industries?
  • What could be the longer term impacts locally, nationally and internationally?

Huge storm hits Queensland - 2 February 2011

Australians have been warned of '24 hours of terror' following the arrival of Cyclone Yasi, a Category 5 storm. This comes just a few weeks after the Brisbane floods further south.

The huge storm has been building out over the Pacific Ocean, and winds are expected to top 180 miles per hour.

Many people have crowded into evacuation centres, which are now full to capacity, and are preparing themselves for substantial damage to property.

Queensland's State Premier Anna Bligh said: 'Tonight we need to brace ourselves for what we might find when we wake up tomorrow morning' (The Independent, 02.02.11).

Following the storm as it happens

In addition to television and newspapers there are plenty of online sources for regularly updated news, images and eye-witness accounts, making it easy for you and your students to follow this storm event as it happens.

The Australian  - news coverage, animations and image galleries

The Australian - Cyclone Yasi - in depth coverage of the storm

ABC News - Cyclone Yasi Live - minute by minute updates including images and videos

Impact on major towns and cities

The strong winds will be accompanied by a storm surge which is expected to cause serious flooding in coastal settlements, including the city of Cairns.

This will be the largest storm to hit such a heavily populated area in Australian history. The city of Darwin was the last major city hit in this way by Cyclone Tracy over Christmas 1974.

There are fears over the longer term impact on the tourist industry and suggestions that food prices will rise as the area produces a huge amount of sugar cane.

  • Ask students to compare Yasi with previous cyclones and try to predict the level of damage
  • What, if anything, can Australians do to protect themselves against the storm?
  • Aside from effects on the tourist and food industries, what could other longer term impacts be?

Tropical cyclone intensity

Cyclones in this region are measured on the Australian Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale, not the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale as used in the USA or the Beaufort Scale as used in the UK.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the organisation responsible for monitoring cyclones and issuing warnings, has provided lots of useful information about the different intensity scales and how they can be compared.

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