On March 27, the day before the cyclone hit land, meteorologists were predicting winds of more than 170 mph. Indeed, that night the warning was upgraded again, this time to Category 4. That meant significant damage, airborne debris and severe power failures were likely. What’s more, in some areas of the eastern coast, residents were evacuated from their homes.
Then on March 28 disaster struck. The storm, now dubbed Cyclone Debbie, took an unpredictable turn to the south. Consequently, it hit areas where no evacuations had taken place. Indeed, across Queensland it tore roofs from houses and pelted the ground with torrential rain.
In some parts of Queensland, winds in fact reached a staggering 163 mph. And in North Queensland’s Pioneer Basin, more than 3 feet of rain fell over a 48-hour period. That’s well above half of the average annual figure. Meanwhile, in the nearby Whitsundays, 300 tourists were stranded when a jetty was destroyed.