Tropical Storm Yasi brought heavy rains and flooding to the already-soaked region of Queensland in Australia, and another 4 to 8 inches of rain are forecast from Townsville to northern Mackay along the coast. Rains could produce localized flooding in the region for days to come.
Although Tropical Storm Yasi was diminished to a Category 1 storm Thursday, it was still expected to bring heavy rain and blustery winds to Australia’s interior, meteorologists said. The massive cyclone was a Category 5 storm when it slammed into the Queensland coast just after midnight Thursday, leaving more than 170,000 homes without power, according to the emergency services minister. Some areas could be without power for weeks.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh described conditions for local TV networks, and said that many coastal cities are enduring power outages. In Cairns, only 34% of homes had electricity. Townsville, south of Cairns, only has power in about 15% of homes. Farther down the Queensland coast, electricity is out in half of Mackay and Proserpine, and the entire town of Ingham was without power.
Bligh said the tens of thousands of power outages were caused by downed lines and a transmission break. Electrical supply lines running into coastal communities have been cut south of the town of Innisfail.
“It is not clear yet why it has been cut and we won’t know until we are able to get into the air and check all along that system,” Bligh said. “I should say that requires checking 400 kilometers (248 miles) of line and 500 transmission towers.” It could take weeks to repair the problems, Bligh said, an assessment confirmed by Queensland’s emergency services minister.
Yasi is moving toward the west-southwest. Wind speeds could reach up to 77 miles per hour (125 kilometers per hour), according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
Thousands of people left their homes ahead of the storm, which forecasters warned was one of the worst the country has ever seen. Earlier, Bligh warned residents they may have to cope alone for several days. Emergency crews are working their way across the affected region, but so far no serious injuries have been reported.
“I can’t sugarcoat this for people: It’s going to be a tough 24 hours, for some it’s going to be a tough couple of days,” she said at a news conference. “They need to prepare for the worst-case scenario, and that might mean they have to be self-sufficient for a couple of days.
CNN’s Pauline Chiou, Hilary Whiteman, and Bryony Jones contributed to this report.