Tropical Cyclone Joyce sparks RED ALERT: Map shows weather to batter Western Australia
The country could be hit for the second time in a fortnight after cyclone just XX miles from Broome.
As it moves south at around 12.4mph (20km), the cyclone, which formed north-west of Kimberley. is expected to intensify Friday and into Saturday.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the category one system was carrying winds of 52mph (85kph) near its centre, with gusts up to 75mph (120kph).
But these could increase to up 112mph (180kph) on Friday and tides will be higher than expected between Cape Leveque and Pardoo Roadhouse.
A red alert has been issued for people living in Broome to Bidyandanga, urging them to go to a shelter immediately.
A yellow alert was issued for those between Cape Leveque to Broome and Bidyadanga to Wallal and a blue alert between Wallal to Whime Creek including Port Hedland, South Hedland, Marble Bar, Tom Price, Nullagine and nearby communities.
Bradley Santos, the severe weather services manager for WA’s Bureau of Meteorology, warned residents the cyclone’s path could still change.
He said: ”As it moves offshore it is likely to strengthen and then start tracking toward the south toward the west Kimberley and east Pilbara coast.
“There is a risk of a category 3 crossing late on Thursday, or possibly Friday.
“There is uncertainty in the track, there is a still a risk that the system will track parallel to the Pilbara coast and therefore will affect communities in the central and western Pilbara.”
The Chief Officer of Bidyadanga Tania Baxter said her community had only just cleaned up from Cyclone Hilda which hit on December 27.
And police have advised residents not to take part in “cyclone parties” – where people drink stockpiled alcohol while sheltering indoors.
Broome Senior Sergeant Brendan Barwick said: “Don’t drink too much alcohol, in the event that you need to move or something happens to your house and you need your wits with you, so you can get yourself and your family out to a safe place.”
While Australia’s Port Hedland iron ore terminal is clearing all vessels from its harbour as the tropical cyclone intensifies off the western Australian coast, Pilbara Ports Authority says.
The port’s biggest user, global mining giant BHP, said it was monitoring the progress of Cyclone Joyce amid forecasts it will reach Category 3 strength by early Friday morning.
The authority said: “All vessels are expected to be cleared from the port by 6.30 p.m (1030 GMT) tonight, at which time the port will be officially closed.”
The port is used by three of Australia’s top four iron ore miners, BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.
Fortescue Chief Executive Nev Power said: “The safety of our people is our highest priority and we are closely monitoring conditions relating to the cyclone.”
On average, there are 10 to 13 tropical cyclones between November and April in the Australian region, four of which typically cross the coast, data from the bureau shows.