Cyclone Yasi struck the coast of Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland in total darkness Wednesday night, as the flood-ravaged region braced for yet another environmental catastrophe.
The huge storm appeared to make landfall in Mission Beach, Queensland, but there are no gauges in the area to take precise measurements. The storm was downgraded from a Category 5 to 4 earlier in the day, but its true force may never be known, UPI reported.
Another area of coastline from Cairns to Townsville was also affected, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said.
The Australian weather service reported wind gusts as high as 110 to 180 mph around Innisfail.
The government ordered evacuations and airlifted hospital patients out of harm’s way on Tuesday. By Wednesday, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh advised residents who had not evacuated to remain in the area.
“No one should be leaving home now. The time for movement and evacuation has now passed,” Bligh said Wednesday morning, as quoted by UPI.
Yasi comes after driving rains flooded an area the size of France and Germany combined in and around Brisbane, the nation’s third-largest city.