Australia East Coast Faces Strongest Cyclone Since Yasi in 2011

Apr 09, 2014 3:31 am ET

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s Queensland state is bracing for the strongest storm since severe tropical cyclone Yasi hit the coast in 2011 with damaging winds that leveled sugar crops and rain that swamped mines.

Tropical cyclone Ita is forecast to strike the east coast on April 11 as a severe category 4 storm with very destructive winds, according to a notice on the Australia Bureau of Meteorology website. The system will make landfall near Cape Melville, about 1,700 kilometers (1,056 miles) northwest of the state’s capital of Brisbane.

Yasi crossed the coast as a category 5 storm, packing winds stronger than those from Hurricane Katrina, dumping rain across a state already saturated by flooding and crimping coal output from companies such as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group. Ita is forecast to make landfall north of the main producing area in Queensland, the world’s biggest exporter of the variety used in steel making.

“This will be the strongest to cross the coast since Yasi,” said Adam Woods, a Brisbane-based forecaster for the bureau. “Once the damaging winds have decreased within 24 hours of it crossing the coast, flooding is going to be the major destructive characteristic of what’s left of the storm.”

Ita is 800 kilometers east-northeast of Cooktown and moving west at 10 kilometers per hour, according to the bureau. Cyclones are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the weakest. A category 4 storm has wind gusts of 225 to 279 kilometers per hour.