As this category 5 cyclone approaches the Queensland coast, the Brisbane Times interviews some local architects about the possible effects.
The word from architects on the coast is that Cyclone Larry (2006) culled the badly constructed houses, but that older elevated Queenslanders could be in trouble. Current standards require a new house to withstand various winds up to 260kph and tonights onslaught may top that maximum by 40kph.
Some engineers have a dimmer view of the potential devastation, saying that the severity of this cyclone could destroy cyclone-proof housing, due to the extreme pressures that will cause rooves to lift off and walls to blow out. Professor Mark Bradford, of the University of New South Wales School of Civil and Environmental Engineering worries for smaller buildings caught in the storm: “It doesn’t look particularly good, it is quite scary.” CSIRO researcher Bob Leicester told the Australian that he, “personally wouldn’t trust something that primarily relies on the code to keep it safe… A building is hundreds of pieces of wood and nails and screws, and there might be some missing, but there’s no way of checking because you can’t see them once it’s closed up.”
Around 30,000 homes are expected to be affected by 2.9 metre storm surges in the Townsville area alone. Water levels are expected to increase seven metres above high tide levels in towns in the direct path of Cyclone Yasi.
This afternoon, 10,680 people have sought refuge in 20 emergency shelters around the region. They are now all full with police blocking the entrances of some. Last resort evac centres have been opened at Townsville showgrounds and schools. The Earlville shopping centre in Cairns is being utilised as a makeshift evacuation centre, with 2000 setting up camp in front of shops. Those who could not get in are making do in the complex’s underground car park.
[updated at 6pm]
Posted by Peter on 02.02.11 in extreme weather
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