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Cyclone Ilsa strengthens and turns, as impact to track inland

Cyclone Ilsa hits WA

A severe cyclone bearing down on Western Australia is expected to strengthen into a category-four system on Thursday morning as it turns and tracks towards land.

The state’s worst storm in a decade, Cyclone Ilsa is due to cross the coast near Port Headland, in the north-west, on Thursday night or Friday morning.

The weather bureau warned it would maintain tropical cyclone intensity on Friday as it moved inland some 500 kilometres past Telfer and further inland across WA’s northern interior.

“The very destructive core of Ilsa, with extreme gusts up to 270km/hr is expected to cross the coast between De Grey and west of Bidyadanga late Thursday night or early Friday morning, and move further inland Friday morning,” BOM said on Thursday morning.

“Destructive winds with gusts to 155km/h may develop near the coast between Bidyadanga and Port Hedland during Thursday afternoon or evening, extending inland as far as Marble Bar later on Thursday and to Telfer Friday morning.”

Communities are bracing for winds in excess of 250km/h near the coast as people in the path of Tropical Cyclone Ilsa are told to make final preparations and find shelter.

There is an alert for Bidyadanga to De Grey in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

Abnormally high tides, destructive winds and up to 400 millimetres of rain are forecast as Ilsa moves south-west and turns towards the Pilbara coast.

“The very destructive core of Ilsa, with extreme gusts up to 270km/h, is expected to cross the coast between De Grey and west of Bidyadanga,” the bureau said.

Communities from Broome to Marble Bar and Whim Creek have been warned to be ready for cyclonic weather.

Workers and tourists at Eighty Mile Beach caravan park and nearby Wallal Downs cattle station are being evacuated, along with non-critical workers at Newcrest’s Telfer mine and BHP’s sites across the region.

Extra emergency workers, essential supplies and aircraft have been sent to the area as authorities warn the North West Coastal Highway could close between Port Hedland and Broome due to flooding.

The Port Hedland port is being cleared of vessels, including iron ore carriers.

Ilsa is expected to be the first category-four system to strike the region in almost a decade.

The last, named Tropical Cyclone Christine, crossed the coast south-west of Port Hedland in December 2013.

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