Cyclone Yasi developed as a tropical low north-west of Fiji on 29 January 2011. On 30 January, it was named Yasi by the Fiji Meteorological Service. On 2 February, it was upgraded to a Category 5 system and made landfall near Mission Beach (138 kilometres south of Cairns) between midnight and 1:00am (AEST) early on Thursday 3 February. It weakened to a tropical low near Mount Isa around 10:00pm on 3 February.
The eye of the cyclone passed over Dunk Island and Mission Beach between Innisfail and Townsville bringing significant winds, the highest estimated at 285 kilometres per hour. Considerable damage occurred to the towns of Tully, Cardwell, Tully Heads, Innisfail, Ingham, Mission Beach, El Arish, Silkwood and Silky Oak and localities, however, the cyclone’s worst impact missed the major centres of Townsville and Cairns.
Overall, approximately 1,000 people reported significant damage to their homes. Other impacts include power loss to more than 200,000 properties, cars found metres away from where they were left and boats piled on top of each other in some regions.
Rainfall totals for the 24-hour period to 9:00am Thursday 3 February were 200-300 millimetres in the area between Cairns and Ayr, causing some flooding. A 5 metre tidal surge was observed at the storm tide gauge at Cardwell. Other sea inundation occurred between the beaches north of Cairns and Alva Beach, and there was some inundation in parts of the city of Townsville.
There was one recorded death.
The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences estimated the cyclone caused a $300 million loss to agricultural production in Queensland, particularly the banana and sugarcane sector.
The Federal Government processed more than $250 million worth of recovery grants in the first three weeks after the storm through Centrelink. Financial help was also available in the form of concessional loans for cyclone hit farmers up to $650,000.
The Insurance Council of Australia estimated the preliminary 2011 damage at $1412 million.
In response to warnings about the expected severity of the cyclone, and possible storm surges, approximately 10,000 northern Queenslanders living in low-lying areas evacuated to more than 100 official evacuation centres. Significant numbers were accommodated in unofficial evacuation centres established by communities and church groups. Thousands of people left the area and sought refuge with family and friends.
Flights out of the region were fully booked. The hospital's 300 patients were evacuated to Brisbane and other regional hospitals by the the Australian Defence Force, Royal Flying Doctor Service and other means of transportation. This was an unprecedented evacuation effort.