The calm eye of rampaging cyclone Larry
has passed over Innisfail, just south of Cairns, and the winds there are
picking up again as the cyclone moves west inland. The ABC’s latest report says that there’s widespread damage across far north Queensland, many
homes in Kurramine Beach, south-east of Innisfail, have been severely
damaged and gale force winds have lifted the roofs off houses, wiped
out crops and uprooted trees.

Yvonne Cavey from Kurramine Beach’s local motel told the ABC that she
can’t see a tree left standing in the town and Innisfail motel owner
Amanda Fitzpatrick said it looked like an atomic bomb had gone off.The SMH is reporting that there have been “early, unconfirmed, reports of casualties and
some people are feared missing in the wake of one of the most
powerful cyclones to ever hit Queensland”.

The blog Cyclone Larry: The Aftermath
explains that
“cyclones weaken as they cross the coast, losing the heat beneath them
from the warm ocean, but it can take hours to lose a head of steam like
Cyclone Larry held.” The latest post reports on Queensland MP, Bob
Katter’s “emotional update” to Channel Seven News on the shocking
damage sustained by fruit, vegetable and sugar
farms in and around Innisfail and the Atherton Tablelands. Katter
has estimated possible losses of 95% of all banana crops in the farming
districts of North Queensland.

The blog reports that Larry, which initially reached a peak at the
highest possible intensity – Category Five – has weakened to a
Category Three, but
it “now roars on through the countryside in a south/south-west
direction.” The
true scope of the damage will take a few days to come into clear view,
but few in the rescue services and police forces expect it to be
“anything less than devastating”.

The Herald Sun reports that the conditions could worsen towards the
Mission Beach area and also in Cairns “because of gusts created by the
mountain range”. Larry’s winds are at least as strong as those Cyclone Tracy unleashed
in Darwin in 1974, in a storm that killed 71 people and destroyed more
than 70 per cent of the city’s buildings, leaving over 20,000 people
homeless.

Last night the State Government issued a Declaration of Disaster Situation, which takes inareas around
Cairns, Innisfail, Mareeba, Townsville, Mackay and as far west as Mt
Isa and can mean enforced evacuation if necessary and stands for seven days.

Up to 50,000 properties are currently without power.

You can keep track of Larry via radar images on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website. Meanwhile, a second cyclone has formed behind Larry…

And a “media watcher” writes:

Just after 10:00 (Qld time), John Laws took a call from someone who
asked if there was a second tropical cyclone coming towards Qld. Laws
said there wasn’t. A few minutes later another caller rang to say there
WAS another TC on the way. Laws again said there WAS NOT and read from
a BOM advisory.

Two things – 1) Laws (and Woolley for that matter) being broadcast into
Qld in delay is straight out dangerous and 2) the BOM need to make sure
the very latest info is published on their website.

Peter Fray

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