An already flood-battered Queensland is bracing itself for what could be the most violent cyclone to hit the state in recent history.
Cyclone Yasi is expected to hit the eastern coast of Queensland on Thursday morning, by which time it is likely to be a severe category four cyclone. Yasi intensified in to a category three yesterday afternoon (AEST), whilst spiralling over the ocean to the Northeast of the Queensland coast, and is said to be growing in strength.
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Residents of low-lying waterfront areas have been advised to consider evacuation for the next few days, to avoid any human casualties should the likely ferocity of the storm hit. Nursing homes, holiday camps and the local RSPCA animal shelter are all being evacuated, and schools in the area are likely to close.
“This is a very serious threat,” said Premier Anna Bligh “In addition to a very significant cyclone, possibly one of the largest we have ever seen in Queensland, we expect to see this event become a significant rainfall event … This could be very powerful flash flooding.”
This second wave of flooding comes after devastating floods earlier this year, which caused havoc in large parts of Eastern Australia. Up to 100mm of rainfall is anticipated to fall on already saturated catchments.
(More on TIME.com: See photos of Flooding in Australia here)
The last cyclone of a similar magnitude to hit Queensland was Cyclone Larry. This category four cyclone damaged 10,000 homes and left a repair bill of over a billion dollars. Yasi is of a far greater size than Cyclone Larry, but its strength in comparison is yet to be determined.
Premier Bligh sounded a cautious note: “I hope that we are wrong, I hope the cyclone turns around. I hope that on Thursday and Friday we’re all breathing a big sigh of relief.” But it looks like Australia’s weather troubles are set to continue…