Authorities in Western Australia have sounded off the alert warnings on Tuesday as Cyclone Rusty continued to pack in strength and had developed into a Category 3 storm.
Cyclone Rusty is intensifying as it approaches the Pilbara coast (Bureau of Meteorology)
Residents have been ordered to relocate to higher areas on potential risks to flooding, high winds as well as a coastal tide.
An emergency relocation order issued Tuesday morning by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) specifically instructed people living in the low lying areas of Port Hedland including a small section of Pretty Pool to relocate immediately while there is much enough time. It likewise pointed out that residents turn off the electricity in their homes as well as lock all doors and windows.
Areas of specific concern include Sharman Mews, Pennings Court and Styles Road, McGregor Street and Athol Street, the majority of Tkalkaboorda, between Wilson Street and Anderson Street from McGregor Street to The Esplanade, and the surrounding areas.
Authorities have opened the Andrew McLaughlin Community Centre in Keesing Street in Port Hedland as temporary safe shelter refuge for people who may be forced to leave their homes in anticipation of Cyclone Rusty's potential damages.
"Rapid and powerful flooding is very likely as severe tropical cyclone Rusty crosses the coast," the DFES order said.
Moving at eight kilometres per hour towards the coast, Cyclone Rusty as of 5am (WST) developed to a category 3 overnight. It was estimated to be 170 kilometres north-northeast of Port Hedland and 320 kilometres northeast of Karratha.
Cyclone Rusty's intensity, size and slow movement, according to Neil Bennett, Bureau of Meteorology spokesman, could likely to lead to a dangerous storm tide, including damaging waves.
There is also a very great possibility Cyclone Rusty could further develop into a Category 4 as it crosses the coast later on Wednesday, with wind gusts reaching as high as 230km/h.
A number of schools have been ordered close until further notice, including Hedland Senior High School, Port Hedland Primary School, Port Hedland School of the Air, Cassia Primary School, Cassia Education Support Centre, Baler Primary School, South Hedland Primary School, and Pilbara Behaviour Centre.
Three other schools have likewise been ordered closed until further notice due to risk of flooding, including Yandeyarra Remote Community School (in the Shire of Port Hedland), Marble Bar Primary School (in the Shire of East Pilbara), and, Nullagine Primary School (in the Shire of East Pilbara).
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