Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi

30 January - 3 February 2011


Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi began developing as a tropical low northwest of Fiji on 29th January and started tracking on a general westward track. The system quickly intensified to a cyclone category to the north of Vanuatu and was named Yasi at 10pm on the 30th by Fiji Meteorological Service. Yasi maintained a westward track and rapidly intensified to a Category 2 by 10am on 31st January and then further to a Category 3 by 4pm on the same day.

Yasi maintained Category 3 intensity for the next 24 hours before being upgraded to a Category 4 at 7pm on 1st February. During this time, Yasi started to take a more west-southwestward movement and began to accelerate towards the tropical Queensland coast.

Yasi showed signs of further intensification and at 4am on 2nd February and was upgraded to a marginal Category 5 system. Yasi maintained this intensity and its west-southwest movement, making landfall on the southern tropical coast near Mission Beach between midnight and 1am early on Thursday 3rd February. Being such a strong and large system, Yasi maintained a strong core with damaging winds and heavy rain, tracking westwards across northern Queensland and finally weakened to a tropical low near Mount Isa around 10pm on 3rd February.

Yasi is one of the most powerful cyclones to have affected Queensland since records commenced. Previous cyclones of a comparable measured intensity include the 1899 cyclone Mahina in Princess Charlotte Bay, and the two cyclones of 1918 at Mackay (January) and Innisfail (March).

Wind Damage

At the time of writing there are no verified observations of the maximum wind gusts near the cyclone centre. However a barograph at the Tully Sugar Mill recorded a minimum pressure of 929 hPa as the eye passed over suggesting wind gusts of about 285 km/h were possible. This is supported by measurements (subject to verification) from instrumentation operated by the Queensland Government (Department of Environment and Resource Management) at Clump Point (near Mission Beach) which recorded a minimum pressure of 930hPa. Significant wind damage was reported between Innisfail and Townsville where the destructive core of the cyclone crossed the coast. Tully and Cardwell suffered major damage to structures and vegetation with the eye of the cyclone passing over Dunk Island and Tully around midnight on 2nd February.

The largest rainfall totals were near and to the south of the cyclone and were generally in the order of 200-300mm in the 24 hours to 9am Thursday. These rainfall totals were experienced in the area between Cairns and Ayr, causing some flooding. The highest totals were; South Mission Beach 471mm, Hawkins Creek 464mm, Zattas 407mm, Bulgun Creek 373mm along the Tully and Herbert River catchments.

Track and Intensity Information for Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi

Track of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi with gale boundaries, as described in Summary, above.
  • Map Legend:
  •   Very Destructive Winds
  •   Destructive Winds
  •   Gale Force Winds

Understanding tropical cyclone intensity and impacts.

Storm Tides

A 5 metre tidal surge was observed at the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) storm tide gauge at Cardwell, which is 2.3 metres above Highest Astronomical Tide (HAT). The anomaly occurred at about 1.30am on a falling tide, averting more serious inundation. Some significant, yet far less substantial sea inundation occurred on the late morning high tide on 3rd February between the Cairns Northern Beaches and Alva Beach, with peak levels measured at DERM's Townsville tide gauge close to the expected 0.6m above HAT causing inundation of parts of the city.

***All information relating to intensity and track is preliminary information based on operational estimates and subject to change following post analysis***

This was the fourth tropical cyclone in the Queensland area of responsibility during the 2010/11 season.

* All times mentioned is Australia Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Coastal Crossing Details

Crossing time:
12 am - 1am EST, 3 Feb 2011
Crossing location:
Near Mission Beach, 138km S of Cairns
Category when crossing the coast:

Extreme Values During Cyclone Event (estimated)

Note that these values may be changed on the receipt of later information

Maximum Category:
Maximum sustained wind speed:
205 km/hr (estimated)
Maximum wind gust:
285 km/hr (estimated)
Lowest central pressure:
929 hPa

Animated Loops

Thumbnail of Satellite image
Satellite Loop

January 31 05:30 UTC - February 2 21:30 UTC

Thumbnail of Radar image
Radar Loop

February 1 21:10 UTC - February 2 20:10 UTC

Thumbnail of MSLP Chart
MSLP Chart Loop

January 28 00:00 UTC - February 3 00:00 UTC


Pressure measurements taken at Clump Point (Mission Beach) between midnight 01 Feb 2011 and 6pm 03 Feb 2011

Pressure measurements taken at Clump Point (Mission Beach) between midnight 01 Feb 2011 and 6pm 03 Feb 2011.

Please note this is unverified data provided by The State of Queensland (Department of Environment and Resource Management).

Meteorological Observations for 55023 Coral Sea 2 (CE2)

Timeseries of atmospheric pressure recorded from the Bureau of Meteorology's tsunami DART buoy as Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi passed over it. The lowest pressure reading is 941hPa.

Higher resolution version: Meteorological Observations for 55023 Coral Sea 2 (CE2) 195KB.