Western Australia’s Pilbara and Kimberley regions are bracing for a tropical cyclone to be called Lucas, with communities being urged to prepare themselves and tourists told to evacuate.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has issued a Blue alert for communities between Beagle Bay and Port Hedland, including popular travel hotspot Broome.
“People… need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise an emergency kit including first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water,” the alert issued on Friday morning reads.
The Bureau of Meteorology said a tropical low was intensifying as it moved towards the coast and and may develop into a cyclone early on Friday and reach category 2 intensity later in the day.
Gales may develop on the coast near Bidyadanga and Broome during Friday afternoon and may extend to other parts of the warning area during Friday evening. But gales are not likely at Port Hedland, the bureau said.
“Heavy rainfall combined with strong winds may develop along the west Kimberley coast and east Pilbara coast, to the east of Port Hedland, early on Friday and extend inland east of Port Hedland during Friday afternoon and evening,” the BOM said.
Holidaymakers camping or travelling in caravans are being urged to find safe accommodation or leave the warning area immediately.
“A cyclone is not a place you would want to be in a caravan or camping,” DFES assistant commissioner Paul Ryan said.
“It’s probably going to take you a couple of days but we need to start planning and moving now.”
The Bureau of Meteorology had anticipated a potential category three cyclone but has downgraded its forecast.
Significant swell is expected at Port Hedland, home to the world’s largest bulk export terminal with iron ore miners among the key users.
The Pilbara Ports Authority directed all large vessels to clear the terminal overnight in anticipation of the cyclone’s arrival.
Anyone in the warning area is encouraged to assess their properties for loose items, tie down boats or caravans and prepare a survival kit including a radio, torch, mobile phone charger, food, water and any necessary medication.
Lucas will be the first tropical cyclone to hit the West Australian coast this season.
Additional emergency crews could be deployed from Perth to the state’s north on Friday depending on the severity of the impact.
Another tropical cyclone could hit the remote Cocos Keeling Islands, 900km from Christmas Island, in coming days.