Port Hedland empties in preparation for Cyclone Lucas

Cyclone Lucas is approaching the Pilbara coast. Image: Bureau of Meteorology.

Port Hedland has cleared all large vessels from the port’s anchorage as Cyclone Lucas approaches the coast of Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The tropical low, which the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) anticipates to intensify into a category 2 cyclone system, is expected to make landfall by Saturday.

The Pilbara Ports Authority issued a cyclone warning on Wednesday as it commenced the clearing of anchorages from the port in anticipation of large swell and gale force winds.

“The low is forecast to bring significant swell from Thursday afternoon and gale force winds from Friday as it approaches the Pilbara coast,” the Pilbara Ports Authority stated.

“All vessels have been directed to sail and clear the inner anchorages by 10pm Western standard time.”

The township of Telfer in the Great Sandy Desert, home to Newcrest Mining’s Telfer gold and copper mine, is in the strike zone for a flood warning for rainfall between 100 and 200 millimetres on the weekend.

BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) operations in the township of Newman, Rio Tinto’s Paraburdoo and Tom Price sites and the Roy Hill iron ore mine lie outside of the main strike zone, but could still receive 20 to 40 millimetres of rain during the weekend.

However, BOM warns this area could change without warning, and urges people in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions to remain alert and keep up with the latest updates.

“The system continues to strengthen and become more organised,” BOM stated on Friday.

“Some rainfall has (already) been recorded on the Kimberley coast. A cyclone watch is current for communities from Beagle Bay to Whim Creek, including Port Hedland and Broome.

“The latest track map shows the system turning south into Friday and at this stage, is forecast to reach category 1 strength by Friday morning (Western Australia time) and category 2 before crossing the coast on Saturday morning.”

From this time, heavy rains are expected along the Kimberley and Pilbara coasts which will extend inland over the course of the weekend.

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