Tonight will be a very long, terrifying night for the people of North Queensland as they shelter in homes or evacuation centres as best they can and wait for the might of Cyclone Yasi to hit.
When the maelstrom is at its fiercest many will huddle in complete darkness with no power and no means of communication.
[Photo from here]
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh again finds herself in the role of reassuring the people of her state with her regular appearances on TV and, all politics aside, she does it superbly. I can confidently say she won’t be getting much sleep tonight.
I was born in the town of Ayr, south of Townsville. My family left there when I was 7 years old and I still have childhood memories of palm trees bent horizontal by cyclonic winds. But those storms of my childhood, we’re being told by the authorities, are nothing compared to Category 5 Cyclone Yasi.
It’s huge. You’ll get some idea when you see this satellite image of Yasi superimposed on a map of the USA.
[Photo from here.]
At its height the Bureau of Meteorology predicts wind gusts of almost 300kph, and huge tide surges. A wave height of 9.5 metres (yikes!) has already been recorded off Townsville. Yasi is the largest and most menacing cyclone to hit Australia in living memory.
The Age newspaper has a live blog here where you can see frequent updates on the situation, along with Twitter feeds and links to webcams.
And on this page people in Cairns are sending frequent live updates from the area while they can.
Three weeks ago Australians went to bed praying for the people of Brisbane as they anticipated the rising flood waters that were to do so much damage to that city. The water had already cut a path of devastation through rural Queensland destroying lives and property, and we were fearful of what lay ahead.
Tonight it’s for North Queensland that Australians everywhere are praying. I simply can’t comprehend the horror of the roaring wind and relentlessly beating rain which have started already.
Please join me in praying for God’s protection for these folk tonight. In the midst of the terrifying storm may they hear the still, small voice of our loving God comforting them.