Cyclone Veronica: Red alert for West Australian storm

Residents along the Pilbara coast have been warned of Tropical Cyclone Veronica’s destructive winds of up to 155km/h and wind gusts to 220km/h.

A red alert has been issued for residents between Pardoo and Mardie to find shelter immediately and brace for howling winds and rising tides.

On Sunday the category three cyclone was continuing to move southeast at 8km/h, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

It was downgraded to category three as it began lashing the coastline of the Pilbara region between Dampier and Port Hedland about 6am on Sunday.

Veronica will move across coastal towns including Port Hedland, Karratha and Pannawonica, with wind speeds expected to exceed 165km/h later on Saturday.

Widespread heavy rainfall and very dangerous storm tides, causing very dangerous coastal inundation, are also expected.

Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said the town had not yet been hit but was bracing for the afternoon.

“We’re on the ring of fire with dangerous wind speeds. It’s going to increase significantly but it’s not too bad at the moment,” he said.

“I’m concerned that people haven’t spent the time doing precautions they should; putting cyclone screens on houses, tie down caravans and trailers and outdoor furniture, anything that can become a missile.”

He earlier said in a video shared on the town’s Facebook page that residents should stay indoors in the strongest and safest part of their homes.

“Use your furniture like mattresses to cover yourself … and do not venture outside.” Manager of the Pardoo Roadhouse, Pushar Petel, said he was not concerned about the cyclone.

“At this stage, everything’s fine. It’s a little windy and it rained a bit last night but nothing is damaged and it’s nothing too dangerous.” Karratha Mayor Peter Long said he was concerned the tidal surge could cause flooding.

“It’s our highest tide of the year. We’re getting five metres above so we’re expecting coastal flooding,” he said.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster James Ashley said Veronica was unique because it was a slow-moving system that would bring a long period of destruction.

“We are expecting a prolonged period — 12 hours or more — of destructive winds near the core of the cyclone.”

A yellow alert was issued for people in communities from Wallal and Pardoo to prepare to take action.

While a blue alert calls for residents in or near inland Pilbara to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise an emergency kit.

Nullagine residents are no longer at risk.

Veronica is the third tropical cyclone this season and it comes as cyclone Trevor whips through the Northern Territory.

The last category four tropical cyclone to hit the WA coast was Christine in December 2013.



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