Here's the FAST NEWS :
* As of half an hour ago, reports coming in that severe winds gusts of over 120kmh had begun along the Cyclone Larry stormfront. Rain is pounding other areas, including Cairns, Townsville and Innisfail, which is, unfortunately, about to become the most famous town in Australia. This is the town that is likely to face the full intensity of the 280kmh winds that now swirl around the eye of the cyclone.
* Power blackouts are popping up across the electricity grid from Townsville to Cairns.
* The full force of the tial surge has not become fully clear as yet, though the final tide is expected to be well beyond the highest tides seen so far this year. The tides, which could rise two to three metres above the average, will affect hundreds of kilometres of the far north coast of Queensland.
* The most dangerous time for these tidal surges should prove to be up until midday today.
* Reports of the full scope of evacuations are still not clear, though some radio reports have mentioned upwards of 3000 people have either left their homes voluntarily, or been asked forcefully to evacuate.
* The Category Five intensity of Cyclone Larry could last well into Tuesday morning as it moves at least three hundred kilometres inland on a path not yet locked in by the storm trackers.
MISSION BEACH FIRST TOWN SHOWING STORM DAMAGEABC Australia reporter said the town of Mission Beach has lost power, with lines down, the majority of homes have been evacuated, with residents sheltering in evacuation centres, which include local schools and hotels.
"Gale force winds are pounding the tourist town and I can see debris flying through the air. Trees are being torn out of the ground and heavy rain is now causing flooding."
A number of homes in Mission Beach sit just back from the beach at a distance of only a few metres. All these homes are expected to suffer major damage when the storm surge rushes up the beach and into the houses.An unspecified number of hospitals sit in the path of the cyclone, though most, if not all, are believed to have been successfully evacuated.
CYCLONE, SMYCLONE, CAN WE STILL GO FISHING?
A radio station relayed this story from Cairns : While the Port Authority has be moving empty boats and vessels up into the creeks that snake off the Trinity inlet, to prevent them being smashed ashore on the tidal surge, one Darryl Wilson of Fishtales Charters felt like he was living in the Twilight Zone yesterday afternoon. People were still turning up at 4pm wanted to book fishing trips for the next day.
When he told one couple there wasn't a chance in hell any of his boats would be going out into the cyclone, especially not for fishing trips, the could then asked if they could book in for the next morning instead.
Hopefully this is a tragic example of just how uninformed North Queesnlanders were of the incoming cyclone, and not an example of how stunningly stupid this couple were.
DETAILS OF DECLARED DISASTER ZONE ANNOUNCED
From The Courier Mail, Brisbane : "The Government's disaster declaration takes in areas around Cairns, Innisfail, Mareeba, Townsville, Mackay and as far west as Mt Isa and stands for seven days.
"Army Black Hawk helicopters were placed on standby at Hughenden, with the police jet and the State Government's executive jet ready to fly out of Moranbah, southwest of Mackay, to help in operations today. Defence personnel and rescue workers were bracing for winds of up to 280km/h."