Feature

Australia's Katrina-sized mega-cyclone: By the numbers

Cyclone Yasi is one of the biggest — and likely most catastrophic — storms to ever hit Australia. Here's a look at the current and predicted toll

Australia is bracing as Cyclone Yasi, one of the worst storms in its history, begins what could be a slow crawl across the northeastern state of Queensland. Yasi is a Category 5 storm, inviting comparisons to Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico. (Watch an ITN News report about the storm.) "We are facing a storm of catastrophic proportions," says Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. Here's a look at the storm and its destructive potential, by the numbers:

310 miles
Diameter of Cyclone Yasi

400,000
Number of people who live in the cyclone's path

40,000
Number of people evacuated from coastal areas

186 mph
Yasi's top wind speed

170 mph
Hurricane Katrina's top wind speed

255 mph
Top wind speed, a world record, set by Cyclone Olivia on Australia's Barrow Island in 1996

1918
Year in which a Category 5 cyclone last hit Queensland

89,000
Households without power, as of Wednesday morning (U.S. time)

31 feet
Height of waves recorded Wednesday morning

30,000
Number of homes that could be flooded in the urban center of Townsville

4,000
Number of soldiers on standby in Townsville to help when Yasi passes

$1.5 billion
Damage that Cyclone Larry wreaked in Queensland in 2006

$80 billion
Damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005

3
Ranking of Australia in global sugar exports, after Brazil and Thailand

34.92 cents
Price for a pound of raw sugar on the New York futures market, a 30-year high

2 to 11 percent
Predicted increase in cyclone intensity by 2100 due to warmer oceans, according to a 2010 study

Sources: Reuters, MSNBC, Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph (2), Guardian, NOAA, NineMSN, Bloomberg, Daily Mail

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