BHP shuts Port Hedland, says seek shelter 'immediately' in Cyclone Veronica

Arturo Kim
March 25, 2019

Australia's western coast usually sees three or four cyclones per year and emergency services said residents were well-prepared for this storm.

A vast and powerful cyclone made landfall Saturday along a remote stretch of the northern Australian coast, bringing fierce winds and heavy rains amid safety fears for a small number of residents who've stayed in the area. But two large storms such as Trevor and Veronica hitting on the same weekend is rare.

But the threat is not over for communities near Tennant Creek, 500km inland, as the Bureau of Meteorology on Sunday warned of heavy rain and destructive winds in the NT's east.

Residents were urged to stay indoors in the strongest and safest part of their homes.

The category two cyclone Veronica is carrying destructive gusts of 155km per hour as it slowly tracks along the coast between Karratha and Port Hedland.

Bureau of Meteorology NT manager Todd Smith said coastal communities can expect risky storm tides, destructive winds and heavy rainfall when the cyclone hits.

With all communities between Pardoo and Mardie placed on red alert from 3pm Saturday, streets across the region were emptied as residents stayed indoors to escape the unsafe category 3 storm, the core of which threatened to hang around for more than 24 hours.

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"Currently near the centre we're looking at mean winds of a hundred kilometres per hour but gusts up to 140 kilometres per hour", he said.

While the storm is yet to hit the port, because it is a slow-moving cyclone, it is expected to have a longer period of destruction.

While called tropical cyclones over Australia's waters, Trevor and Veronica are no different from the hurricanes that form in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, except they spin clockwise instead of counterclockwise. "We're getting five metres above so we're expecting coastal flooding", he said.

The centre of the storm is now located around 95 kilometres west of Port Hedland.

Over in Western Australia, along the Pilbara coast are also preparing for a Category 4 storm to make landfall within the next 24 hours.

The cyclone has been downgraded to a category 3 and is predicted not to rise back to category 4.

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