Category 4 storm hits Queensland

Cyclone Yasi, which made landfall in the Australian state of Queensland today as a Category 4 storm, could cause economic damage of up to $5bn, according to risk modelling firm EQECAT.

The company said Cyclone Larry, which hit almost the same spot in 2006 as an intense Category 3 storm, caused $1bn of damage. However, Yasi has higher maximum windspeeds and a wider spread of hurricane force winds, so EQECAT expects losses to be between $2bn and $5bn.

Both storms occurred in an area of modest coastal population density distant from the urban center of Brisbane. However, EQECAT said Yasi is a much broader storm affecting a much larger populace and an area roughly 5 times the area impacted by Larry. Yasi’s radius to hurricane force winds was approximately 80 nautical miles compared to Larry’s radius of 15 nautical miles.

The modeller added that the differences between the storms imply that the maximum winds from Yasi carried approximately 50% more kinetic energy than Larry.