Tropical Cyclone Rusty has been upgraded to a category four,
and the massive storm is now battering West Australia's
A red alert has been issued for people in Pilbara region
towns between Pardoo and Whim Creek, including Port Hedland
and South Hedland.
These residents are being told to go to shelter immediately.
The slow-travelling cyclone barely moved overnight but wind
gusts have strengthened to 230kmh near its centre.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicts the cyclone will begin
Port Hedland has already had wind gusts up 120kmh, with
conditions set to worsen throughout the day, the bureau says.
Destructive wind gusts of more than 165kmh are predicted in
the area as the cyclone approaches the coast.
At 5am (local time) today, the storm was believed to be 130km
north-northeast of Port Hedland and 290km northeast of
People in communities between Wallal and Pardoo, extending
inland to Marble Bar, are on yellow alert, with a warning to
take action and prepare to shelter.
Rusty's massive size and slow movement is set to unleash
torrential rain and cause major flooding in the De Grey
catchment and significant flooding in the Fortescue catchment
and Pilbara coastal streams.
The deputy mayor of Port Hedland shire, George Daccache, a
resident of 40 years, expects the cyclone to be one of the
worst the town has seen.
"This one's a bit of a beauty," Mr Daccache said. "It's going
to be a pain waiting for two to three days for this to come
Port Hedland councillor Bill Dziombak says there's been
persistent rain in the area, and he expects it will become
"This is a very long, drawn-out slow nightmare," Mr Dziombak
told AAP early today.
"Over the last 48 hours we've had gradually increasing gales,
gusty winds and heavy, heavy rain."
The rain had softened vegetation, raising fears of falling
trees and damage to infrastructure, Mr Dziombak said.
Rising tides could also cause storm surges and flooding.