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The New Daily
The New Daily
Aaron Bunch

North-west battens down as Cyclone Ilsa gathers strength

See the weather bureau's latest update Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Evacuations are under way in Western Australia’s north-west as tourists, miners and pastoralists flee the projected path of a strengthening cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone Ilsa is expected to become the first category-four system to strike the region in more than a decade when it hits the coast between Broome and Port Hedland.

On Wednesday morning, the category-two cyclone was moving south from its position about 350 kilometres north-west of Broome.

It is forecast to move to the south-east on Thursday, crossing the coast near Eighty Mile Beach later in the day or early on Friday.

Heavy rainfall and destructive winds are expected to hit the western Kimberley region, with storms possibly extending into the Pilbara and northern interior.

Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said remote Aboriginal communities, pastoral stations, mines and tourism operators in the cyclone’s path had been contacted.

Workers at Wallal Downs cattle station, Newcrest’s Telfer mine and caravan parks are being evacuated, along with non-critical workers at BHP’s sites across the region.

People living in structures that are not built to withstand a category-four weather event have been told to move out of the area.

“It’s been 10 years since we’ve had a category-four cyclone impact the coast of WA and so many people up in the Pilbara and the Kimberley wouldn’t have experienced that sort of impact,” Mr Klemm said.

Extra emergency workers, essential supplies and aircraft have also been sent to the region.

Mr Klemm said the North West Coastal Highway between Port Hedland and Broome would likely close in coming days due to flooding.

The Port Hedland port will be cleared of vessels, including iron ore carriers, on Wednesday.

“People need to make sure they’re well prepared for winds in excess of 200km/h, which is going to be significant,” Mr Klemm said.

Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Todd Smith said the cyclone would rapidly grow in strength in coming days and its effects would be felt across a wide area between Broome and Port Hedland.

“It’s going to cause a lot of damage to trees, vegetation and any buildings and infrastructure that aren’t up to code, and caravans, cars are going to get blown around,” he said.

Mr Smith warned abnormally high tides, large waves and flooding were possible and people should avoid coastal and low-lying areas.

He said the weather system could reach hundreds of kilometres inland and towns in the Pilbara region also needed to prepare.

Communities from Beagle Bay to Whim Creek, including Broome and Port Hedland, have been warned to prepare for damaging winds, heavy rainfall and abnormally high tides.


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