The threat of a cyclone approaching Western Australia’s northern coast has prompted ports to be cleared as residents bunker down.
Tropical Cyclone Damien is estimated to be 300 km northwest of Port Hedland and is moving southwest at 11km/h.
The category two cyclone has sustained winds near its centre of 110km/h, with gusts to 155km/h.
It is expected to intensify to category three during Friday, then become a category four cyclone when it hits the Pilbara coast on Saturday.
The Pilbara Ports Authority says the Port Hedland port is being cleared, while the Port of Dampier is in the process of shutting down.
The Port of Ashburton is still in the preparation stage.
“The weather forecasts will continue to be monitored,” the Pilbara Ports Authority said in a statement on Friday.
The Bureau of Meteorology warns gales are forecast to develop between Wallal Downs and Mardie, including Port Hedland and Karratha, from as early as Friday evening.
Very destructive winds, with gusts to 230km/h, are expected near the cyclone centre as it crosses the coast on Saturday.
Residents between Dampier and Pardoo Roadhouse have also been warned of the potential for a very dangerous storm tide.
Heavy rain is also likely to cause flooding in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions as the cyclone moves inland.
A yellow alert is in place for people in or near Port Hedland to Mardie and south to Millstream, including Port Hedland, Whim Creek, Point Samson, Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha, Dampier and Barrow Island.
Residents have been warned to prepare for cyclonic weather and to move to shelter.
A blue alert is in place for people in or near Wallal Downs to Port Hedland and Mardie to Onslow, but not including Onslow.
It includes the towns of Pannawonica, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Nullagine and Marble Bar.
Those residents have been warned to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise an emergency pack including a first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food, and water.
Tropical Cyclone Damien is the third cyclone of the season off the WA coast.