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Reef Report for Monday, April 3, 2006

Cyclone Larry Misses Local Reefs

Cyclone Larry, one of the most powerful cyclones in recent Australian history, crossed the Great Barrier Reef last week, but left little noticeable damage to reefs in the Cairns and Port Douglas areas.

The category 5 storm crossed the coastline about 80km south of Cairns, with winds clocked in excess of 180km/hr. © Bureau of Meteorology The part of the storm that crossed over Cairns was not nearly as strong, but still worried residents, with the most noticeable damage being toppled and broken trees. Power was out for 12-24 hours, but all city services have now been restored, and visitors are returning to the area to enjoy the reef and rainforest.

Because the eye of the storm passed to the south of Cairns, the wave and current action that can damage reefs was not very strong and little damage was noticed. Our reports from divers on the reef just 5 days after the storm was that the diving was great, and the only problem was that visibility was reduced to 8-15 meters. Reports from Port Douglas, north of the stormís path, indicate almost no effect, a week after the storm the visibility is 15-25 meters.

Areas to the South of Cairns were not so lucky. The country towns of Inisfail and Babinda were severely hit, with a great number of buildings damaged, mostly by having their roofs torn off by the winds. Local farms in this area, where most of Australiaís banana crop is grown, will experience losses, with most banana plantations flattened, sugar cane damaged, and mango and avocado orchards likely losing lots of next yearís crop due to broken trees.

Remarkably, there were few fatalities from the storm, which eventually passed far inland into more remote outback areas, and eventually dissipated.

The Premierís Relief Fund is the easiest way to donate to the relief effort for the Inisfail, Babinda and Mission Beach areas. They can be reached by telephone at 1-800-150-411

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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