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 milesDiameter of Cyclone Yasi

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

40,000Number of people evacuated from coastal areas

186 mphYasi's top wind speed

170 mphHurricane Katrina's top wind speed

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

1918Year in which a Category 5 cyclone last hit Queensland

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

31 feetHeight of waves recorded Wednesday morning

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

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

$1.5 billionDamage that Cyclone Larry wreaked in Queensland in 2006

$80 billionDamage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005

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

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

2 to 11 percentPredicted 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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