Emergency services prepare for cyclone and flooding in WA

Flood watches are in place across northern Australia from north-west Queensland across NT to WA.

Flood watches are in place across northern Australia from north-west Queensland across NT to WA. Photo: Andrea Myers/AAP

Urban search-and-rescue specialists are among the dozens of emergency service personnel deployed to Western Australia’s north-west as authorities prepare communities for the likely impact of a tropical cyclone.

The massive weather system is forecast to make landfall as a category two cyclone near Coral Bay on Saturday, but the Bureau of Meteorology has warned it could strengthen into a severe category three storm.

A blue alert has been issued from Roebourne south to the Ningaloo area, including the mining town of Karratha, with residents urged to get ready for severe weather and potential flooding.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said rapid response teams and equipment were on the way to Carnarvon, Exmouth, Karratha and Geraldton.

“We are significantly bolstering our resources in the northwest to ensure we’re keeping the community safe,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“Our efforts are focused on communities close to where the cyclone is expected to cross, including Aboriginal communities, mine sites and tourism operators.”

The commissioner said the North West Coastal Highway was likely to close at multiple locations due to flooding and some communities could be isolated.

“People in the community should reconsider travel to the area and people travelling in caravans must leave the area prior to a cyclone approaching for your own safety,” he said.

“Conditions on the coast will also be very dangerous over the coming days.”

A bureau map issued on Wednesday shows the likely path of the weather system, which is expected to gather strength and reform into a cyclone as it tracks south-west down the WA coast from the Kimberley before making landfall in the southern Pilbara or Gascoyne regions.

Meteorologist James Ashley said communities in northwest WA were likely to be hit by severe weather as the system moved south.

“A severe category three cyclone is not out of the question, as is a weaker system, but at the moment we’re expecting this system to be a category two,” he said.

“It’s likely to bring a period of dangerous winds and heavy rainfall to the area it moves over land so we have flood watches in place for the western part of the Pilbara and the Gascoyne region, as well as a tropical cyclone watch.”

Lincoln crossed the Northern Territory coast late last week as a category one tropical cyclone from the Gulf of Carpentaria before moving inland across the Top End and into WA as a storm.

It dumped heavy rain across a wide area triggering flood watches and warnings in northwest Queensland, the NT and northern WA before moving offshore again on Wednesday.

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