6am Wed 2 Feb 2011

Yasi upgraded to Category 5

From: AAP
February 02, 2011 6:44AM

TROPICAL cyclone Yasi has been upgraded to category 5 as it nears the north Queensland coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) in Brisbane said that at 5am AEDT Yasi was about 650 kilometres east-northeast of Cairns and 650 kilometres northeast of Townsville moving west southwest at 30km/h.

“The cyclone has now reached category five and will continue to move in a west-southwesterly direction during today,” the BoM said on its website this morning.

Read full update here.

Then there’s this from the Herald Sun:

Satellite image from Japan Meteorological Agency circa 10pm 2 Feb 2011 under headline:

Islands and towns evacuated as Cyclone Yasi threatens Queensland

John Ferguson, Wes Hosking
February 02, 2011 12:00AM

 …Cairns was on edge last night as the 250km/h cyclone threatened to engulf the Cairns and Port Douglas region. The bureau is forecasting wind gusts of up to 295km/h at the centre of the storm.

…Residents from Port Douglas to Cairns CBD have been ordered to move to safety by 8am today under the unprecedented mandatory evacuation plan.

 The area’s 190,000-plus population faces the dire threat of cyclonic winds up to 250km/h and a deadly “tsunami-like” storm surge of up to 7m.

Up to a metre of rain – 39 inches in the old measure – was forecast in some areas.

Cooktown to Townsville has  been identified as the danger zone but the storm is expected to affect towns as far south as Mackay and as far west as Mount Isa.

Hundreds of people last night began fleeing up the Great Dividing Range to the Atherton Tablelands to escape the predicted storm surge as officials warned that Yasi was shaping as a terrifying 20-hour event with the tempest’s front up to 500km wide and its eye spanning 100km.

Six evacuation centres have been set up and troops deployed to provide rations, bedding, and emergency response.

…Queensland Bureau of Meteorology director Jim Davidson said that while the bureau had seen cyclones of similar intensity and others of similar size, it was rare to see them in combination.

“This is a double whammy in a sense,” he said.

Read full story update here:

============  UPDATE  ============

[click image to enlarge]

Image erroneously named ‘Tuesday – should read ‘Wednesday’. New touchdown time prediction is set between 8:30pm and 10pm AEST. This new image shows the predicted course, including how far inland the cyclone’s outer storm is expected to extend.