Yasi, expected to hit small tourist cities such as Cairns and Townsville later on Wednesday, is a “category 5” cyclone, the highest rating possible and the first such tempest to hit cyclone-prone Queensland coast at this force since 1918.
One of the biggest storms ever to hit Australia, cyclone Yasi, has struck the coast of Queensland.
It is producing winds of more than 180 miles an hour and has already brought down power lines and trees.
Around 30,000 people in the city of Cairns have been told to leave their their homes.
The category five storm is the worst cyclone to ever hit Australia.
Here are some facts about the massive weather system:
Size: 310 miles wide
Winds: up to 186mph
Storm surge: up to 20ft high
Conditions are deteriorating at the main evacuation point in Cairns, where 2500 people are sheltering from Cyclone Yasi inside a powerless shopping centre.
Power was cut to the Earlville shopping centre around midnight, as Yasi crossed the coast at Mission Beach south of Cairns, leaving evacuees to wait out the storm in the dark.
“It’s getting a bit stifling inside because the air conditioning’s stopped,” an ABC reporter said.