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LIVE: Cyclone Damien closes in on WA coast with Pilbara on red alert

Severe Tropical Cyclone Damien is causing gales over the central Pilbara coast. Very Destructive winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surge are expected as Damien crosses the coast near Dampier this afternoon.

Warnings are in place for Port Hedland to Onslow, including Karratha, Dampier, Pannawonica and Barrow Island, but not including Port Hedland, and extending to adjacent inland parts to include Tom Price and Paraburdoo.

WA’s Bureau of Meteorology have released a detailed loop of images showing the scructure of TC Damien.

The extreme weather system is causing gales over the central Pilbara coast. Very Destructive winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surge are expected as Damien crosses the coast near Dampier early this afternoon.

BoM will move to hourly track map updates this morning as Cyclone Damien moves closer to the coast. Follow the Bureau on Twitter @BOM_WA

Pilbara Ports Authority’s cyclone response procedure has been activated.

The Port of Port Hedland moved to Cyclone Stage 4 – Shut Down at 1800 hours on 7 February 2020.

The Port of Dampier moved to Cyclone Stage 4 – Shut Down at 1200 hours on 7 February 2020.

The Port of Ashburton is currently at Cyclone Stage 3 – Clear Port.

The weather forecasts will continue to be monitored, with further advice to be issued if there is a change to the situation.

Updates will be issued via email and Twitter when they become available.

Intensity: Category 3, sustained winds near the centre of 140 kilometres per hour with wind gusts to 195 kilometres per hour.

Location: within 20 kilometres of 19.6 degrees South 116.4 degrees East, estimated to be 135 kilometres north northwest of Karratha and 245 kilometres west northwest of Port Hedland.

Movement: south southwest at 10 kilometres per hour.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Damien is moving southwards towards the Pilbara coast. Damien is likely to cross the coast between Whim Creek and Mardie early Saturday afternoon as a severe tropical cyclone, potentially reaching category 4 at landfall. As Damien moves inland later on Saturday and Sunday it will weaken, though heavy rainfall and strong winds will persist near the track.

DFES advises of the following community alerts:

RED ALERT effective as of 0530hrs 8th Feb 2020: People in or near Whim Creek to Mardie and south to Millstream (including Whim Creek, Point Samson, Cossack, Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha and Dampier) need to go to shelter immediately.

YELLOW ALERT effective as of 0530hrs 8th Feb 2020: People in or near Port Hedland to north of Whim Creek and south to Wittenoom (including the Town of Port Hedland, north of Whim Creek, Barrow Island, Pannawonica) need to prepare for cyclonic weather and move to shelter.

BLUE ALERT effective as of 0530hrs 8th Feb 2020: People in or near Degrey to Port Hedland and Mardie to Onslow but not including Onslow (including Tom Price, Paraburdoo, De Grey) need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise an emergency kit including first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.

ALL CLEAR WITH CAUTION: Wallal Downs to De Grey including Nullagine and Marble Bar.

People needing SES assistance can call 132 500. In a life-threatening situation call 000. For more safety tips visit www.emergency.wa.gov.au

DFES advises that: Communities in the cyclone warning and watch zones should continue to monitor advice issued as the cyclone approaches the Pilbara coast as changes to alerts and warnings may occur.

After a gusty night, communities in WA’s Pilbara region are hunkering down as they await the arrival of Cyclone Damien.

The category 4 system is expected to bring destructive winds and dangerous flooding to Karratha, Port Hedland and Dampier and is tipped to become the biggest cyclone to hit the region in six years.

Cyclone Damien gravitated towards the Pilbara coast on Friday, bringing strong gales to the region’s coastal communities in the evening.

The tropical storm is set to bring destructive winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour on Saturday and “very dangerous tides”, which could cause damaging waves and very dangerous flooding.

Image of Cyclone Damien gravitating towards the Pilbara coast captured by the Japanese weather satellite Himawari 8. 

Image of Cyclone Damien gravitating towards the Pilbara coast captured by the Japanese weather satellite Himawari 8. Credit:Himawari 8

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts the system will move south after hitting the coast, weakening below tropical cyclone intensity and bringing rainfall to inland WA.

“It’s a significant system, it’s a severe tropical cyclone category 4 at this stage, likely to cross the coast,” BOM meteorologist Bradley Hall said.

“The extent of this thing will be mainly through the Pilbara, then the Gascoyne and then it will likely weaken below tropical cyclone intensity through the Gascoyne and then become this kind of rainy event through inland WA.”

On Friday, as locals prepared for extreme weather conditions, operations winded down in several local ports, including Port Hedland and Dampier, and additional Department of Fire and Emergency crews were deployed to the region from Perth to help with managing and recovery efforts.

An evacuation centre was also set up at Karratha Leisureplex, opposite Broadhurst Road and Dampier Highway and South Hedland’s JD Hardie Centre on Cottier Drive.

Are you in the Pilbara? Get in touch with the team by emailing news@watoday.com.au

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