Qld Ports Brace For Cyclone Yasi

Ports shut down on Queensland's north coast as cyclone Yasi, three times the size of Tasmania with 250 kilometres winds, heads in, MUA's Laurie Horgan reports

"Everything has come to a standstill," said Laurie Horgan, MUA Mackay.  "We've got all the tugs on cyclone moorings and there's been nothing in port since Saturday.

"This one's quite devasting," he said. "The way it's tracking it might just come in above Cairns and Cooktown.  But it could change over night."

Five tugs and two line boats are on cyclone moorings and ports from Cairns to Townsville and Darlymple Bay are shut down,he said. In Darlylmple Bay  52 coal ships here been sent out to sea as winds are expected to reach up to 250 kph.

"It's gigantic," said Laurie. "Three times the size of Tasmania."

Issuing the first official cyclone warnings in North Queensland this afternoon, the Bureau of Meteorology said Yasi would be many times the size and power of Cyclone Anthony and could cause damage up to 500km from its eye.

Mariners ought to expect very rough seas and heavy swell with windspeeds of 34 knots up to 220 nautical miles from centre, LloydsDCN reports.  

Yasi is expected to hit the coast tomorrow evening. 

Resources Council chief Michael Roche today told ABC Radio that just as coal was again beginning to move from mines to ports, the state faced the threat that Yasi would cause "further unwelcome disruption to resuming normal service to our customers ... [but] you've just got to give safety the number one priority".

Cyclone Anthony (see photo) crossed the Queensland coast at Bowen yesterday afternoon but downsized  to a tropical depression. 

As a precaution, North Queensland Bulk Ports closed Abbot Point and Dalrymple Bay/Hay Point, ordering bulkers to sail farther south for safety. 

 Yasi is expected to intensify to Category 4 or 5 as it moves west over the Coral Sea.

In Western Australia, Cyclone Bianca petered out over the weekend without harming shipping or ports. But unrelated storms caused widespread power outages, building damage and flash flooding inland from Geraldton, where two people were killed.