A severe tropical cyclone is on track to bring destructive winds and heavy rainfall over Western Australia’s central Pilbara coast.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Damien has sustained winds of 140km/h near its centre, with gusts to 195km/h and is moving at 10km/h south, the Bureau of Meteorology warns on Saturday.
The category three cyclone is due to hit De Grey to Onslow, including Port Hedland, Karratha, Dampier, Pannawonica, Barrow Island and extend to Tom Price and Paraburdoo.
Residents are being urged to bunker down and the nation’s largest port has been cleared.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Damien is estimated to be 295km north of Karratha, and is moving southwest at 7km/h.
The Pilbara Ports Authority says ports in Ashburton and Port Hedland were being cleared, while the Port of Dampier is in the process of shutting down.
Port Hedland is the world’s largest bulk export terminal, with iron ore miners BHP and Fortescue Metals Group among the key users.
“We’re expecting some damage to infrastructure in the Pilbara area, particularly around Karratha and Roeburne,” Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Brad Delavale said.
“We do expect the people that live in (affected) areas to take the relevant steps to ensure that they are safe.”
The Bureau of Meteorology warns gales are forecast to develop between Wallal Downs and Mardie, including Port Hedland and Karratha, from as early as Friday evening.
Very destructive winds, with gusts to 230km/h, are expected near the cyclone centre as it crosses the coast on Saturday.
Residents between Dampier and Pardoo Roadhouse have also been warned of the potential for a very dangerous storm tide.
Heavy rain is also likely to cause flooding in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions as the cyclone moves inland.
A yellow alert is in place for people in or near Port Hedland to Mardie and south to Millstream, including Port Hedland, Whim Creek, Point Samson, Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha, Dampier and Barrow Island.
Residents have been warned to prepare for cyclonic weather and to move to shelter.
A blue alert is in place for people in or near Wallal Downs to Port Hedland and Mardie to Onslow, but not including Onslow.
It includes the towns of Pannawonica, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Nullagine and Marble Bar.
Those residents have been warned to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise an emergency pack including a first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.
Tropical Cyclone Damien is the third cyclone of the season off the WA coast.