Cyclone Larry Hammers North Queensland
Tropical Cyclone Larry pummelled the north Queensland coastal city of Innisfail (approx. 1600 kms/ 1000 miles north of Brisbane) around 07:00 on Monday, March 20th. At the time it made landfall it was a category 5 storm—the largest classification for storm intensity. No deaths have been reported although homes have been destroyed and almost 100,000 people are currently without power. Accommodation, drinking water and power for hospitals are urgent necessities. (At the time of writing the local time in Queensland is approaching 04:00 on Tuesday, March 21st.) Assuming that emergency aid is rapidly forthcoming and able to meet these needs, the most distressing effect of Larry will be the damage to the state’s banana and sugar industries, where it is estimated that the entire regional banana crop has been lost—meaning 90% of the country’s annual yield (worth some AUD$300 million). Approximately 15% of the annual sugar crop may be similarly destroyed. This will also mean job losses galore. News sources have been comparing Larry to Cyclone Tracy which demolished Darwin in 1974. Another storm, Cyclone Wati, is intensifying in the Coral Sea off the coast of Cairns—current Australian Bureau of Meteorology predictions place the storm at category 3 by 22:00 on Tuesday evening, although the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre does not yet deem this storm a serious threat to the region.