Cyclone Yasi Poised To Strike

Terry O'Shane, MUA tugs Cairns and Aboriginal elder has seen a few cyclones in his day. But this one's got him worried. Cyclone Yasi is set to be the worst in living memory

"I've lived through a few, but this one has my attention," said Terry O'Shane. "It's going to be one of those days when we are going to meet the full force of nature bearing down us and realize how insignificant we are.  It's quite worry-some."

MUA tug members worked hard to get all four tugs on cyclone moorings yesterday and Terry says the port closed at 6pm. And they've closed the airport now.

"All port safety has been adhered to.  Everything is locked away.  We are just battening down now.  We're expecting a tidal surge of 3-4 metres.  It will cause havoc in low-lying areas.

The O'Shane family home is built to withstand category 5 cyclones. But having the grandchildren and nieces all there means a lot of preparation.

"I've warned them of the terrifying sound of the wind," he said. "It's just picking up as I'm talking now.  I rang my few aunties in Aboriginal communities in low-lying areas. Some have been trying to get out but getting vehicles is a bit of a problem. People are evacuating a lot of low areas. "

Cyclone Yasi is officially described by the Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology as "MORE LIFE THREATENING THAN ANY EXPERIENCED IN RECENT GENERATIONS" 

Yasi intensified overnight into a category 5 severe tropic cyclone which, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABOM), "IS A LARGE AND VERY POWERFUL TROPICAL CYCLONE AND POSES AN EXTREMELY SERIOUS THREAT TO LIFE AND PROPERTY WITHIN THE WARNING AREA, ESPECIALLY BETWEEN CAIRNS AND TOWNSVILLE,"

Severely destructive winds of up to 300km an hour, waves and floods are forecast. Severe gales are forecast inland as far as the border with the Northern Territory.

Maximum winds at sea, deep within the system, are at 115 knots decreasing to 34 knots up to 280 nautical miles from centre.

All the ports including and north of Hay Point are shut to commercial maritime traffic.