Cyclone Yasi hits Queensland coast in Australia

Fierce winds and driving rains brought by the most powerful storm ever to hit Queensland are lashing northern coastal areas of the Australian state.

With winds reaching up to 290km/h (181mph), Cyclone Yasi is ripping roofs off buildings and has cut power to at least 100,000 people.

The storm struck south of Cairns and is moving inland, with forecasters warning of severe damage and likely deaths.

Queensland’s premier has warned of devastation on an unprecedented scale. For more from BBC News click here

Sky News Australia has up-to the minute reports and video about this extreme weather event, along with details reports on their website. See the latest reports here

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Massive cyclone heading for Australia

Australian officals are urging residents in parts of Queensland to flee ahead of the most dangerous storm ever predicted to hit the state.

Cyclone Yasi, a category five storm – the highest alert level – will make landfall on Wednesday night local time (after 1200 GMT).

Winds are expected to hit 200 mph – the strongest ever to hit the continent.

Australian floods – why is it so bad?

Text source – BBC NEWS

The deadliest floods in 50 years are now lapping at the feet of many of the residents of Australia’s third largest city.

Almost 20,000 homes in Brisbane are expected to be swamped by the time that the river system reaches its peak on Thursday – some of the two million residents have left already.

It follows huge damage done elsewhere in Queensland – flash flooding on Monday killed 12 and dozens are still missing.

Watch the report from BBC News correspondent Nick Bryant here

So why has there been so much rain along eastern board of Australia?

BBC Meteorologist, Nina Ridge, says the persistent rainfall has been the result of a weather phenomenon called La NiƱa.

Watch the video to explain this phenomenom here

The Sky News Australia website has a whole section devoted to the floods, including interviews, photos and video clips. Click here to access the material