YDNEY — A strong tropical cyclone roared toward Australia's flood-ravaged northeast on Monday, prompting evacuations and warnings from officials that the storm could be the worst the already-swamped region has ever seen.
Cyclone Yasi's winds strengthened to 63 mph (102 kph) Monday. It was expected to hit the Queensland state coast on Wednesday or Thursday as a fierce Category 4 storm with wind gusts up to 162 mph (260 kph). The storm could dump up to three feet (one meter) of rain on some communities already saturated from months of flooding, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.
"This is an event that we have to take seriously," Bligh said. "It may well be one of the largest and most significant cyclones that we've ever had to deal with."