February 1st, 2011

Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Posted at 3:02 PM ET

yasi-smallTropical cyclone Yasi is currently a category 4 tropical cyclone, packing sustained winds of 138 miles per hour (222 kmph) and is located at around 518 miles (833 kilometers) east-northeast of Cairns, Australia, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC).

Yasi has tracked west-southwest at 20 miles per hour (31 kmph) over the last 6 hours and is forecast to remain on this forecast track towards Cairns while gaining in strength. The forecast from the JTWC predicts that Yasi will make landfall as a category 4 cyclone just to the south of Cairns at approximately 12pm UTC on February 2.

yasi-big1

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or GC AnalyticsTM representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

According to the forecast track from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Yasi is a large and powerful tropical cyclone and poses a serious threat to north Queensland communities. There is currently a cyclone watch in place for 560 miles (900 kilometers) of the Queensland coast, including the coastal and island communities from Cooktown to Yeppoon and inland between Georgetown and Moranbah. The Australian BOM added that communities between Cooktown and Townsville were most at risk from a direct hit from Yasi.

Queensland’s Premier Anna Bligh warned that the approaching storm was “huge and life-threatening” as residents and tourists were advised to evacuate the areas along some 560 miles (900 kilometers) of the Queensland coastline that are likely to be affected by the storm. According to reports, mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the most vulnerable coastal areas, with a total of 9,000 people expected to be evacuated from around Cairns. Authorities have already ordered the evacuation of two hospitals in Cairns, where officials have warned that a 2.5 meter storm surge could swamp the city center.

On Tuesday, reports said that airlines were staging additional flights to the far north of Queensland in order to evacuate thousands of residents and tourists from the region before the storms outer wind bands forced the closure of airports as early as Wednesday morning.

Australia’s coal industry is bracing for more disruption as cyclone Yasi approaches the Queensland coast. Queensland, Australia’s largest coal-producing state, is still recovering from the earlier river floods that brought the state’s mining industry to a near standstill. Ahead of Yasi, two coal mines - the Xstrata Coal Collinsville mine and Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek mine - were closed on Tuesday, in addition to part of the state’s coal haulage system and several coal export ports. In a statement, Rio Tinto Coal Australia said that Yasi was “shaping as a much larger and faster moving system which could impact a wider area in what is an already saturated landscape following Cyclone Anthony”.

Queensland is still recovering from the severe rainfall and flooding that have destroyed tens of thousands of homes and killed more than 30 people since December last year. Reports say that Cyclone Yasi - which is expected to make landfall at category 4 - is likely to eclipse Cylcone Larry in both intensity and size. Larry was the last major cyclone to strike the northern Queensland coast in 2006, causing around AUD 1.5 billion (USD 1.5 billion) in economic damages.

According to reports, Yasi is set to make landfall between Cairns and the town of Innisfail to the south during the early hours on Thursday, February 3, local time (Wednesday afternoon UTC), but meteorologists predict that the cyclone’s associated winds and rains will be felt hundreds of kilometers away. Yasi is not currently expected to trigger further flooding in the areas of southern Queensland already devastated by the river flooding over the previous two months.

Sources: Reuters News, Agence France Presse, Xinhua News Agency, Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, WSI.

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Guy Carpenter publishes CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or GC AnalyticsTM representative for assistance or go to www.i-axs.info for further information.

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