DANGEROUS swells resulting from the massive Cyclone Yasi would be felt as far down as Cooloola and Sunshine Coasts, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has warned.

Yasi was today expected to continue to move overland in a west-southwesterly direction after crossing the coast between Innisfail and Cardwell last night as a maximum strength category five system.

The cyclone has been described as the worst since 1918 and possibly the most powerful since records have been kept, with wind gusts near the centre around 290km/h.

The BOM recorded wind speeds of 185km/h on Willis Island before Cyclone Yasi knocked out the weather station on the island yesterday morning around 8.10am.

BOM spokesman Rob Morton said the pressure had dropped to 955 hectopascals before the system failed, indicating a severe cyclone.

Yasi’s size means there will be effects a long way inland, with the storm likely to maintain category three force as it passes over Georgetown - some 300km inland.

The BoM four day forecast shows the cyclone downgrading to a low which will move west into the Northern Territory.

Meanwhile, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has formed a joint taskforce to respond to Cyclone Yasi.

The taskforce for Operation Yasi Assist – designated JTF664 – is under the control of the commander of the Townsville-based 3rd Brigade, Brigadier Stuart Smith.

The taskforce will maintain close liaison with state government authorities and provide support to emergency services if requested.

Gympie Times

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