CYCLONE YASI TRACKING TOWARDS QUEENSLAND COAST

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Storm’s effect might be felt in Solomon Islands’ Rennell

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 30, 2011) – A tropical cyclone, codenamed Yasi, is reported to be bearing down on Rennell Island, south of Solomon Islands, as it moves away from Vanuatu.

[PIR editor’s note: Cyclone Yasi on Monday (Tuesday Vanuatu time) was moving westward after leaving Vanuatu, heading for Australia’s Queensland Coast. According to Tropical Storm Risk, Yasi was moving south of Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands, which lie to the north of Vanuatu.]

The Vanuatu Meteorological Service says the cyclone is picking up strength as it veers away, travelling west towards Townsville in Australia.

Winds close to the centre of Yasi are estimated at 110 kilometers an hour, possibly increasing to 125 kilometers an hour in the next 12 hours.

Moira Yerta, a forecaster at the Vanuatu Meteorological Service, says Rennell island's 3,000 are likely to be feeling the impact of the cyclone.

"They will probably be experiencing some damaging winds there, destructive winds and heavy rainfall."

Earlier, the Vanuatu service classified Yasi as a category 1 system that was strengthening.

Yasi was then about 140 kilometers east of Vanuatu's northern islands, which forecasters said would experience strong winds of up to 95 kilometers an hour.

Cyclone Yasi may also bring gale force winds to the southern Solomons either tonight or Tuesday morning before reaching the Australian state of Queensland on Thursday.

The Queensland Weather Bureau's Rick Threlfall says authorities are tracking the cyclone's path.

He said: "Certainly, the Fijians are expecting it to pick up beyond a category 3 - possibly up to a 4, but it's something we'll have to keep an eye on and narrow that down nearer the time."

Ex-tropical cyclone Anthony has flattened trees and damaged some homes after crossing the north Queensland coast.

Anthony was downgraded to a tropical low after crossing the coast near Bowen in north Queensland.

The system has brought wind up to 150 kilometers an hour and hundreds of millimeters of rain to parts of the region.

The weather bureau said the system will continue moving south-west over Queensland.

"We do expect that there is going to be some heavy rain associated with the system," an official said.

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