Residents on the northern coast of Western Australia are bracing for destructive gales of up to 230km/h today, with a severe tropical cyclone expected to smash the state this afternoon.
Cyclone Damien is about 125 kilometres north of Karratha and moving south at a speed of 9km/h.
It’s currently a category 3 storm, with sustained winds of 140km/h and gusts of up to 195km/h, but is expected to strengthen into a category 4 by the time it makes landfall.
“The current environment allows for Damien to continue to strengthen as it turns towards the coast, and it may intensify into a category 4 severe tropical cyclone before making landfall,”
BOM meteorologist Grace Legge said last night.
“This could mean wind gusts of 230km/h near the centre as it impacts the coast.
“These winds will be very destructive around the centre of the system as it deepens and crosses the coast.”
Severe Weather Update: severe tropical cyclone Damien off WA coast.
— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) February 7, 2020
Gales are already occurring along the coastal fringe of the central Pilbara, between Roebourne and Cape Preston. They will extend to the rest of the coastline in the coming hours, reaching Onslow to the west and almost all the way to Port Hedland in the east.
Residents between Dampier and the Pardoo Roadhouse are also being warned to expect “very dangerous” storm tides.
“Tides are likely to be significantly above normal high tide, with damaging waves and dangerous flooding expected,” said Ms Legge.
As the cyclone moves further inland, heavy rain could also cause flooding for parts of the Pilbara and the Gascoyne.
A red alert is currently in place for people in or near Whim Creek, Point Samson, Cossack, Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha and Dampier. Residents in those areas are being advised to move to shelter immediately.
This is the third cyclone of the season off the coast of Western Australia.
– with AAP
Originally published as ‘Red alert’: Cyclone approaches coast