Melbourne, Feb 01 (Agencies): A furious tropical cyclone 'Yasi' is storming towards flood-hit Australian province Queensland as residents braced for braving the fiercest storms in the region.

Winds of more than 250kmph could be expected from the high-category four system, state premier Anna Bligh said on Monday.

Cyclone Yasi is steaming towards a band between Innisfail and Mackay, threatening to swamp low-lying areas. The storm is tipped to cross the coast between 10pm Wednesday night and 4am Thursday.

The premier compared Yasi with Cyclone Larry, hitting the state in 2006 and was a mid-level category four system. Larry damaged about 10,000 homes and caused financial loss of ASD 1.5 billion.

"This of course is not only a system now tracking as more intense than Cyclone Larry, it is significantly larger than Cyclone Larry," Bligh said.

The premier said areas to the north and the south of the crossing point would see its effects, including a high storm surge, torrential rain and destructive winds.

Bligh warned residents the storm was so large that the calm experienced as the eye passes could last for more than one hour.

"This storm is huge and it is life threatening," she said. The 500km-wide cyclone with a giant eye of 100km has already made people evacuate the area.

However, Bligh said there is some good news Yasi's path could save western communities from flooding again.

The premier said preemptive disaster declarations had been made across Queensland's central, north, far north and western areas, giving police powers to force people out of danger areas.
She hoped people would go willingly and those powers would not be needed.