A fierce tropical cyclone is heading for the Western Australian coast, bringing possible widespread damage and power outages.
Cyclone Ilsa is expected to hit Broome, Western Australia, on Thursday with winds strong enough to damage roofs, topple trees and caravans and cause massive power outages, the Bureau of Meteorology warned.
It is currently about 350 km northwest of Broome and is a Category 2, but is expected to become a Category 4 by the time it reaches land, with winds of up to 250 km per hour.
Western Australia Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said it had been a decade since a cyclone of that magnitude had hit the WA coast.
Supermarket shelves emptied as some Western Australians have been warned to evacuate as tropical cyclone Ilsa (pictured) is set to hit Broome and Port Hedland
“There will be a lot of people up there who have never experienced a Cat 4 cyclone,” he told CNN.
Tourists staying along the stretch of coast between Broome and Port Hedland have been told to move away from the storm’s expected path, while others have rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food and other supplies.
Cyclones are common on Australia’s west coast, with the Bureau of Meteorology recording seven last year.
Western Australia’s north coast has been hit by 13 storms since 1960, equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane, but this would be the first since Tropical Cyclone Laurence in 2009, which hit a similar location with winds of 150mph. landfall.
Photos of local supermarkets shared on social media show empty shelves. A local shared a video online of the empty vegetable department at Port Hedland Woolworths
The BOM says there is a “highly destructive core.” in the center of the cyclone.
“Extreme wind gusts of up to 270 km/h are expected to cross the coast between Bidyadanga and De Gray on Thursday night, and inland to Telfer on Friday morning,” the Bureau said.
Peter Carter, the mayor of Port Hedland, has warned people to keep their belongings, including wheelie bins, inside to prevent them from becoming ‘missiles’.
“The main thing is debris flying around your house — your grill, outdoor environment, even your garbage can can become a missile in this wind,” he said.
Winds in the cyclone have already been recorded as 140 kilometers per hour, and forecasters predict it could reach 200 kilometers per hour by the time it hits land
‘Make sure that loose items in the house are stored safely.’
Mr Klemm warned residents to take the weather “extremely seriously” and added there was “no excuse for not being prepared”.
He added that remote Aboriginal communities, mining and tourist groups, as well as pastoral stations have been contacted and advised to be ‘prepared’.
Mr Klemm urged residents to visit the Emergency WA website for instructions on what to do, including having a battery-operated AM radio for emergency alerts, enough food for your family for three to four days and clean up around your house before the storm hits.
The low system is expected to turn into a cyclone overnight before moving closer to land later in the week
The BoM says ‘serious impact is likely along the coast between Port Hedland and Broome, during Thursday or Friday’
Aerial meteorologist Rob Sharpe said once the cyclone moved inland it would move over the coastal area between Port Hedland and Broome.
“The tropical low turns into a tropical cyclone and moves parallel to the WA coastline for the next few days until about Thursday,” Mr Sharpe said.
“Until Tuesday and Wednesday… that system could undergo rapid intensification.
“If it does, it could become a Category Five tropical cyclone — that’s the highest category.”
The Jetty Seafood Shack in Kalbarri, WA was hit by Cyclone Seroja on Sunday, April 11, 2021
Two helicopters and a 26-person response team are on standby in the area to conduct medical evacuations if necessary.
Photos of local supermarkets shared on social media show empty shelves.
A local shared a video online of the empty vegetable department at Port Hedland Woolworths.
‘Look boys. Everyone prepares for the cyclone. Oh god, even the brown onion is gone,” she said in the clip.
That’s what a spokeswoman for Coles said news.com.au they worked to ensure that there was a reliable supply of food and groceries in Broome and South Hedland.
The strongest storm on record to affect any part of Australia was Tropical Cyclone Monica, which arrived in 2006 with sustained winds of about 180mph as it swept across the eastern and northern part of Australia.