Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Cyclone Yasi: Satellite Image

SHOOT: It's a Cat 5 behemoth, and it's about half the size of the Australia right now, packing up to 300km/h winds.

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said Cyclone Yasi was the largest cyclone he had ever observed in Australian waters on satellite images.

Overnight, Yasi was upgraded to a category five cyclone.
"The area that it's covering is massive and to see it so close to Australia, even 1000 kilometres away, is a bit haunting," Mr Dutschke said.
"It's definitely something I've not seen before."
Flood map
Image courtesy of US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And Yasi made Cyclone Tracy - the storm that destroyed Darwin in 1974 - pale in comparison.
"It's a huge contrast to Tracy. Tracy was a much smaller cyclone, a lot more compact and it just happened to pass directly over a major populated area," Mr Dutschke said.

"[Tracy] was a similar intensity to this one, but Yasi is much larger so it probably only has to get within a few hundred kilometres of a populated area and it could cause similar damage.
"It doesn't have to be as choosy as Tracy with its accuracy."

Mr Dutschke said such a severe cyclone was "always on the cards" during the La Nina weather pattern, because ocean surface temperatures were warmer than normal.
And Cyclone Yasi was so powerful, it could remain a cyclone even after it had reached the outback.
"The more intense they are when they make landfall, the further they need to go [inland] before they are no longer a cyclone," Mr Dutschke said.

"It's probably going to have to go 500 kilometres inland before it's no longer of a cyclone intensity.
"It can effectively be desert that far inland."
Once it reaches landfall, Yasi is expected to follow Cyclone Anthony's lead and head southwest.
Mr Dutschke said the effects of Yasi could be felt as far away as Adelaide.

"It will bring a lot of moisture and there's a reasonable chance for flooding along the Murray [River]," he said.
By comparison Cyclone Larry, which caused $1.5 billion worth of damage to Innisfail and surrounds, was a mid-level category four system when it hit in 2006.
"This of course is not only a system now tracking as more intense than Cyclone Larry, it is significantly larger than Cyclone Larry," Premier Anna Bligh said yesterday.

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