CYCLONE SANDWICH HITS AUSTRALIA

Feb 20, 2015 by

Australia Hit By 2 Cyclones

SYDNEY (AP) — Two powerful cyclones smashed into northern Australia on Friday, with authorities ordering coastal residents to flee their homes amid warnings the storms’ violent winds and drenching rains could prove deadly.

The twin storms, dubbed the “cyclone sandwich” by locals, struck early Friday, about 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) apart. Cyclone Lam hit a sparsely populated stretch of the Northern Territory, while the more powerful and potentially dangerous Cyclone Marcia began crossing over small towns along the east coast of Queensland state a few hours later, packing wind gusts up to 285 kilometers (180 miles) an hour.

 

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Brisbane residents make their way through rain from Tropical Cyclone Marcia in downtown Brisbane on February 20, 2015.
(PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP/Getty Images)

“Over the next few hours, many thousands of Queenslanders are going to go through a harrowing and terrifying experience,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. “This is a severe cyclone. I want everyone to take all the precautions that they possibly can take.”

About 30,000 people living in the Queensland town of Yeppoon and surrounding areas were expected to experience the worst of the storm. More than 100 schools were closed and nearly 900 residents in low-lying areas were told to evacuate their homes.

Yeppoon resident John McGrath, who was riding out the storm with his family in their house just 100 meters (330 feet) from the beach, watched as the roof of his neighbor’s home peeled off, flew through the air and landed across the road. The walls of his own house were rattling, water was beginning to come through his windows and the ocean’s swells were growing enormous.

“I’m getting nervous,” he said by telephone over the roar of the storm’s winds. “As long as our roof holds together, I think we’ll be OK.”

McGrath, his wife and their two children, Emma, 6, and Michael, 4, dragged cushions and mattresses into a bathroom at the back of the house and were planning to stay there until the cyclone subsided.

“We’re going to have lots of wet things and our town’s going to be a mess,” he said. “It escalated so rapidly, it was crazy.”

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Brisbane residents make their way through rain from Tropical Cyclone Marcia in downtown Brisbane on February 20, 2015.
(PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Officials pleaded with hardened Queensland residents — no strangers to violent cyclones — to take the storm seriously. A cyclone of similar strength, Yasi, hit the state in 2011, destroying scores of homes but causing no deaths.

“This is going to be a calamity, there’s absolutely no doubt about that,” Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said.

The Bureau of Meteorology warned that Marcia had a “very destructive core,” had intensified rapidly and was likely to cause flooding.

In the Northern Territory, Cyclone Lam struck a remote stretch of coast, tearing up trees and downing power lines, but causing no major damage as it weakened and moved further inland. No injuries had been reported.

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