If a monster cyclone hitting Queensland, Australia, sounds familiar to you, that's because Category 5 Cyclone Yasi did back in 2011. Dangerous Cyclone Ita, however, is already stronger than Yasi's peak, and will be only the second storm of this magnitude to hit Queensland since 1918 according to Slate, who says it's also this year's strongest storm worldwide.
Don't be fooled into thinking that Ita looks smaller than Yasi; the satellite image comparisons above are different map projections and zooms and just because Ita's eye is a little cloudy in this particular image, it's probably smaller, which in hurricane-speak means "stronger." Although it's called a Category 5 by Australia's hurricane scale, it's considered a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale here in America. Ita was the talk of the town on Twitter this morning, showing up as a trend in every major east coast city:
It will get very close to SSS Hurricane 5 strength tonight, boasting 155-mph winds with 190-mph gusts, according to the latest NAVY forecast, shown below (it also shows an unfortunate turn to track along the coast which will lengthen the amount of time that people are under high winds and heavy rain). Our updated story says that rainfall will be over 10 inches locally. You can watch the storm on radar loops here.
The storm was already looking formidable when NASA's TRMM satellite instrument flew over it early yesterday:
Here's a shot from Earth.NullSchool.net showing the storm between Papa New Guinea and Queensland:
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