SYDNEY, March 24, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A severe category 3 cyclone blew into
the key mining region of Pilbara in Western Australia Sunday, forcing
evacuations and a halt to port operations, as the north of the country dealt
with the effects of an even more powerful storm that hit the previous day.
Cyclone Veronica weakened from a category 4 storm before its core made
landfall near the mining centre of Port Hedland, but officials warned the
system was slow moving and would continue pounding the region with gale force
winds and heavy rain for 24 to 48 hours.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Veronica was producing wind gusts of up to
200 kilometres per hour (120 mph) and pushed a storm surge of up to two
metres (seven feet) onto the coast.
Rainfall was expected to hit 20-40 centimetres, it said.
Major mining and energy companies took precautionary steps across the
region, a hub of liquefied natural gas and iron-ore exports, with ports
cleared of ships and non-essential staff evacuated, according to
Australia’s western coast usually sees three or four cyclones per year and
emergency services said residents were well-prepared for this storm.
Meanwhile, Cyclone Trevor, which hit northern Australia on Saturday as a
powerful category 4, weakened to a tropical storm overnight as it moved
inland in the sparsely populated region.
Officials said no deaths, injuries or significant damage had been reported
from the storm, but that heavy rains were continuing and flooding was still a
The army and police had evacuated more than 2,000 residents from outposts
in Trevor’s path, many of them indigenous communities, and people began
returning to their homes on Sunday, police said.