Link: http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapc....ap/index.htmlSYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Residents along stretches of Australia's northeastern coast were ordered out of their homes Sunday as a powerful tropical cyclone bore down on them packing damaging winds and the threat of a devastating storm surge.
Tropical Cyclone Larry was a category four storm, on a scale that tops at five, and Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said it could pack wind gusts up to 280 kilometers per hour (174 mph). The bureau did not give a reading for the storm's sustained winds.
Queensland state Counter Disaster and Rescue Services executive director Frank Pagano compared the potential force of Larry to Katrina, which ravaged the United States' Gulf Coast in August last year, killing more than 1,300 people.
"This is the most devastating cyclone that we could potentially see on the east coast of Queensland for decades ... there is going to be destruction," Pagano told reporters in Brisbane.
"Katrina was a category five -- this is currently a category four that can develop similar to the American one," he added.
National flag carrier Qantas canceled a scheduled morning flight to Cairns and another to Townsville -- the two largest cities in the cyclone's possible path. Cairns has a population of 125,000 while Townsville is home to 160,000 people.
Brisbane Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre Web site advised: "People in the path of this very dangerous cyclone should stay calm and remain in a secure shelter -- above the expected water level -- while the very destructive winds continue."
The stretch of coast the storm was heading toward includes the tourist city of Cairns, popular with international travelers and the start point for many Great Barrier Reef boat cruises.
"Coastal residents between Cairns and Townsville are specifically warned of the dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast," the bureau warned. "The sea is likely to steadily rise up to a level which will be significantly above the normal tide, with damaging waves, strong currents and flooding of low-lying areas extending some way inland."
Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie declared a disaster situation, giving local governments the power to enforce mandatory evacuations.
Authorities ordered residents living south of Cairns to flee their homes if they live close to the coast.
"There have been mandatory evacuations of coastal shires south of Cairns ... and emergency shelters set up for people who feel at risk with nowhere to go," a Cairns City Council Disaster Coordination Centre spokesman told Australian Associated Press.
"It's most likely thousands of people are evacuating to avoid the high tide," he added.
Larry was expected to cross the coast early Monday morning.
Peter Rekers, a spokesman for the Queensland state Counter Disaster and Rescue Service, said he was worried about the cyclone's size -- with strong winds expected along up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) of the coast.
"The big concern for us -- if one town is hit by devastation then towns from the surrounding area can come down to assist -- (but) in this case, we're likely to see four or five towns across being devastated at much the same time," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "So they're not going to be as easy to get to each other and look after each other."
Pagano warned residents to stay away from areas likely to become flooded, saying water often posed a much higher danger than gale force winds during cyclones.
"Buildings themselves may withstand the force of the winds because of our building codes, however, a category four and category five will be devastating," Pagano said.
I checked the Navy site and Larry was only a Tropical Storm and now a CAT4 in 24 hours!!??! That can't be good for Australia. I thought those people said they don't get Tropical Cyclones . I knew these things come there every once in a while.
Is anyone around there waiting to get hit?
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Australia faces Katrina-type cyclone
Im at the other end of the country but its all over the news everywhere, its developed so quickly, they had several days notice for Katrina, but with Larry its developed so quickly there has been little time to prepare.
Everyone is predicting its going to be pretty bad when it hits, hopefully our disaster managment plan is better then how the US handled theirs.
Our federal government had an emergency meeting this morning to plan the response and the army has already said its ready to move in straight away for relief.
Hopefully not too many people get hurt.
03-20-2006 #3Originally Posted by Fallout Boy
I would travel to the other part of the country to storm chase the Cyclone.
03-20-2006 #4Originally Posted by hoverbike
I dont't know about chasing the storms, its just over a 3 hour flight from where I am, but i have no interest in going to see a Cat5 Cyclone.
03-20-2006 #5Originally Posted by Fallout Boy
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