Port Hedland braces for Cyclone Stan

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The Pilbara coastline is under threat from a potential category 2 cyclone, likely to hit WA shores with gusts of up to 150 kilometres per hour sometime on Friday night or Saturday morning.

Yesterday the Pilbara Ports Authority evacuated inner and outer anchorages at the Port of Port Hedland.

The Port of Dampier evacuated outer anchorages last night, and the Port of Ashburton will remain open as the Pilbara Ports Authority monitors weather conditions.

This is the first tropical cyclone of the season seen in Australia.To be named Stan, the tropical cyclone was located 325km north-northwest of Port Hedland and 355km north of Karratha at 6:04am AWST, and travelling south-southwest at 12km/h.

The present low pressure zone is expected to become a tropical cyclone today as it continues to track south and in towards Port Hedland.

The WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services has issued a yellow alert to coastal communities, with warnings to be prepared for red alert conditions.

BHP released a statement yesterday highlighting the importance of safety as the cyclone approached, while normal operations continue.

“BHP Billiton Iron Ore continues to closely monitor the situation as the Tropical Low approaches the Pilbara coast. The safety of our teams is the highest priority,” the company said.

“We are working with the Pilbara Ports Authority to clear the inner harbour as directed and preparations are underway in relation to tie-down of outflow equipment.

“Normal operations are continuing for the remainder of port and rail infrastructure, with workforce planning being reviewed and measures in place should site evacuation be necessary.”

BHP is expected to release another detailed statement later today.