Cyclone Larry - Category 5
The small bananna and sugar cane producing town of Innisfail in Far North
Queensland Austalia was struck by a Category 5 cyclone named "Larry" at
6:00 am Monday March 20, 2006. 4000 people are homeless out of a local
population of about 25,000.
Earth Science Australia was there and provides these exclusive photos for
They do not show the worst damage but were snapped in the processs of
recovering keepsakes from our residence.
Category 5 is the most destructive category with highly destructive winds
reaching 280kmh. Gusts to 230kmh were registered in town before the wind
measuring devices were blown away.
Explosive convection on the northern wall of the eye just as the cyclone
hit the coast probably saved Innisfail from the full force of the
wind. Damage along the northern wall appears, according to local residents
was patchy and looked more like tornado tracks. On the other hand the
southern wall remained intact and Silkwood , to the south of Innisfail
suffered 90% housing destruction.
Miraculously there were no casualties.
There was extensive damage to infastructure. Improved building codes meant
that some houses were left standing but most suffered roof loss or damage
compounded by 150mm rain on March 21 and 230mm rain on March 22.
The electricity system was badly damaged by winds and flying debris almost
none of the electricty system is buried despite recommendations that key
circuits, such as the hospital and Central Business District, be buried.
As the pumps for water pumping and chlorination and the pumps for sewage
are electric without back up diesel generators, serious health risks
The damage is easy to see but there are many long term affects not so
- all the banana plants were flattened new bananas will need to sprout
and fruit - so banana farmers will have no income for 8-10 months, all
banana workers will be almost immediately unemployed
- pawpaw (papaya) growers are in a similar situation- new trees will
need to be planted - no income and no work for 6-8 months
- sugar cane growers were enjoying their first good prices in several
years - much of the crop is too flattened to harvest starting in June
- dairy farmers with no electricity are unable to milk their cows -
the cows will stop lactating and production will not resume for about
12 months - no income - no work
- fruit and nut growers have a very long time line of recovery, for
example a macadamia nut grower may need seven years of
tree growth to get their first crop
Some curious decisions were made immediately after the cyclone for example
there seemed to be great haste to reopen schools and all were open within
ten days of the cyclone the result of a huge expenditure, tying up a large
number of workers, generators, lifting equipment and transporting 20
classrooms some 2200km from the state capital by truck. While this is
admirable, these same resources and generators could have kept a good
portion of the 57 dairy farms in production by permitting milking ( even
if in the short term the milk must be dumped for lack of refridgeration).
Continued milk production would have provided a tax base and income
streams in the region.
Images - click on any image for a larger size...
Before Cyclone Larry Category 5
getting the vehicle under cover
protection from flying debris
waterproofing and stacking furnishing against interior walls, using
inverted bookshelf to reinforce interior hallway door to create a "safety
nature refuge research facility 35km from coast , 210m into dense
20m high fig tree lifted out by roots and carried 10m
flattened banana trees will take 8-10 months to regrow fruit
remains of King George park in Innisfail formerly lush rainforest
Innisfail Hotel "lattice work" is the remains of the floor of the next
roofs of various local businesses block the central business district
remains of rainforest, formerly too dense to see through
this is our front yard - we have no trees there, these have blown in, we
removed 51/2 tonnes of vegetation from our normal size lot
a view to the side of our house, formerly rainforest, the house behind is
missing most of its roof
a view to the back of our house, a landscape unfamiliar to us
our view now unrecognisable
diagonally across street, what 230kmh does to a power pole and our
roofless neighbour's house, roof in foreground does not come from nearby
it has traveled in the air at least 200m!
our house - miraculous luck!
our immediate concerns - mosquito outbreaks and dengue fever, contaminated
drinking water (must be boiled minimum 1 minute), electricity (estimate if
lucky in 2-3 weeks)
eye of Cyclone Larry passed over the rainforest research centre
damage to Innisfail State High School top floor removed
How Category 5 Cyclone Larry affected Earth Science Australia
- no worries!
- as always we remain on-line in 2006 celebrating a decade on the web
and over 1 million student visitors per year
- our equipment is wasted - our 1998 Alpha computer is dead, scanner
is gone, modem, printer all scrap
- we exist on a borrowed laptop and a flash drive
- updating the site requires a 170km round trip drive to a functional
- we hope to have mains power back on in three weeks
- to their shame, we get no on-going mining, industry, educational or
government support of the earth sciences in Australian schools
- The site accesses between 400 and 500 students for every $1.00 AUD sponsorship
- donations of equipment, connection time gratefully accepted (we have
never been able to afford to incorporated as a "not-for-profit
organisation" so no tax advantage for you - sorry) via P.O. Box
1875, Innisfail, Queensland , Australia 4860
- (note 2017 - no assistance was received)
Australian Cyclone Classification 1 to 5
World Cyclone Classification by Region