I don’t tend to keep up with the news much, so it was with some amazement and mild horror that I heard about a that had been heading toward the coast for a couple of days.

To give you some perspective on the Australian system, cyclones are the general equivalent of the American hurricaines (the main difference being they rotate in the opposite direction in the north hemisphere). We rate them from category 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. Hurricaine Katrina was apparently between categories 3 and 5.

This cyclone, known as Larry, headed for the coast intensifying to category 4. It hit the town of innisfail at 4am as a category 5, with winds up to 290km/hr (180mph).

I’m at work atm so can’t sit around digging up links and stories, so I’ll do that later this evening once more reports are in. I’ll throw in one link though, here’s one of the initial reports. The sugar and banana farmers sound like they’ll be the hardest hit, pretty much the entire Australian banana production happens in that region and this will cause either a shortage of bananas or the start of banana imports – and if we start importing it’ll pretty much be a disaster for the australian farmers once we recover from this cyclone.

For now, check out the flickr tag and feast your eyes on this image from 2 and a half hours ago. 10am local time, and the centre of that thing is pretty much directly over a town called Atherton where I did most of my growing up. My grandma currently lives about 15 minutes drive from there in a little town called Tolga. Right now it’s been downgraded to a category 3 and is further west, but my sister heard from a friend living in Atherton that trees are down, their back shed has disappeared and there was just destruction everywhere. Their house was still intact though.
cyclone larry over atherton

Here’s the current satellite image. In the northeast of the country you can see cyclone larry, and then way out east you can see another cyclone, Wati, about 2000km offshore near vanuatu but it’s currently predicted to follow the same path as Larry and head towards Australia 😦
30am March 20 2006

My thoughts will be with family, friends and everyone in the area for quite some time methinks.
update: check out my other news posts for more details!