A powerful cyclone will wreak havoc on Western Australia’s west coast within hours, bringing damaging wind gusts and heavy rainfall. Residents of some cities are ordered to evacuate.
Cyclone Ilsa is now classified as a Category 4 storm and will batter the coast between Port Hedland and Bidyadanga in the Pilbara region of the state Thursday evening or Friday morning.
The cyclone could bring wind gusts of up to 170 mph between De Gray and west of Bidyadanga Thursday night into Friday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Thunderstorms and a massive downpour of between 200mm and 400mm are expected to fall over the western Kimberley and eastern Pilbara over the course of Thursday and Friday.
Cyclone Ilsa is now classified as a Category 4 storm and will batter the coast between Port Hedland and Bidyadanga in the Pilbara region of WA Thursday evening or Friday morning
The cyclone will bring heavy rain and strong winds to parts of the WA coast
A yellow alert has been issued for Bidyadanga, Whim Creek, Port Hedland, Marble Bar, Nullagine and Telfer, and residents in the areas have been told to evacuate.
“There is a potential threat to lives and homes if a cyclone approaches the area,” Emergency WA warned Thursday morning.
“You have to take action and get ready to shelter from a cyclone.”
Residents of the affected areas have been told to go to the nearest evacuation center, carry an emergency kit of canned food, water and medicine, and put all cars under cover.
Flood warnings have also been issued for people in West Kimberley, De Gray River, Sandy Desert, Warburton District Rivers, Salt Lakes District Rivers (northwest of Laverton), and Western Desert Districts.
The cyclone will cause wind gusts of up to 275 km/h between De Gray and west of Bidyadanga overnight from Thursday to Friday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
“Severe impact will occur along the coast and adjacent inland areas east of Port Hedland and west of Bidyadanga, most likely between Pardoo Roadhouse and Wallal Downs later this evening or early Friday morning,” the BOM said.
During Friday, Ilsa is expected to maintain tropical cyclone intensity as it moves past Telfer and further inland through the Northern Interior district.
“The system is expected to weaken to tropical cyclone strength Friday night as it moves east into the southern parts of the Northern Territory.”
Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter said residents were preparing for the impact of the cyclone and evacuation centers had been set up across the city.
“Everyone is tense,” Carter told ABC TV on Thursday.
“They understand that cyclones are what they are. They are very unpredictable.’
Mr Carter urged people to watch out for household objects turning into flying debris.
“All of our residents are actually clearing out their barbecues and patio furniture,” he said.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A CYCLONE
Know the warnings
There are four types of cyclone warnings:
- Blue – prepare for a cyclone
- Yellow – prepare for the arrival of the cyclone
- Red – seek shelter inside, it’s too late to leave
- Clear – the cyclone has passed
Prepare your property
If a cyclone warning is issued for your area, make sure all outdoor furniture is secured, tape or cover glass windows that could shatter during a storm, and identify the strongest room in your home.
It is important to know how to shut off your water, electricity and gas supply.
Water supplies can become polluted in major weather events, make sure you have plenty of water.
Prepare an emergency kit
People living in high-risk cyclone areas should have constant access to an emergency kit that can be added once an alert has been issued.
Permanently in the kit must be:
- Emergency contact details and identification documents
- Non-perishable foodstuffs and utensils
- A battery operated radio and flashlight with spare batteries
- Non-perishable medical supplies and a first aid kit
- Bedding and spare clothing (including protective items such as footwear and goggles)
To add to the kit once an alert has been issued:
- At least five days of food, water and medicine
- Mobile phone chargers
- Perishable food
He added that loose objects traveling at high speed have the potential to become “missiles in the sky.”
Workers and tourists at the Eighty Mile Beach caravan park and nearby Wallal Downs cattle station are being evacuated, along with non-critical workers at the Telfer mine in Newcrest and BHP’s sites across the region.
Additional aid workers, essential supplies and aircraft have been sent to the area as authorities warn the North West Coastal Highway between Port Hedland and Broome could close due to flooding.
Port Hedland is being cleared of ships, including iron ore ships.
Cyclone Ilsa is the first Category Four system to hit the region in nearly a decade.
The last, dubbed Tropical Cyclone Christine, crossed the coast southwest of Port Hedland in December 2013.
It comes after supermarket shelves between Port Hedland and Broome were cleared of fresh produce, meat and dairy ahead of the cyclone.
Both Coles and Woolworths spokesmen assured customers that stores in the region have been overstocked with “ambient goods,” food that stays at room temperature so there will be plenty of supplies in case of an emergency.
Supermarkets in the Pilbara are stripped of fresh food as residents prepare for Tropical Cyclone Ilsa to make landfall (pictured, a meat corridor in eastern WA)