Emergency services in Western Australia have opened shelters ahead of tropical cyclone Seroja’s expected landfall in the coming hours.
Residents in the area 500km (about 310 miles) north of Perth have been urged to evacuate as the category two cyclone accelerates towards the shore.
The Bureau of Meteorology has said that Seroja is expected to bring destructive winds and flash flooding.
Officials are braced for high levels of damage to buildings in the region.
This is due to the properties not being constructed to withstand cyclonic conditions.
“There is a threat to lives and homes. You are in danger and need to act immediately,” the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said on Sunday.
#CycloneSeroja at Category 2 intensity. People on the west coast of #WA should prepare for destructive winds, heavy rain, abnormally high tides and coastal flooding. More info at: https://t.co/c4CEuNV8az pic.twitter.com/0VZNS2SveT
— Bureau of Meteorology, Western Australia (@BOM_WA) April 10, 2021
Graham Sears of the DFES in Western Australia said it was “not a Sunday picnic”.
“This is real and it’s going to get very, very dangerous later on this afternoon with high winds expected up to 165km an hour,” he said.
Residents in the small coastal towns of Denham and Kalbarri are likely to face gales and destructive winds.
The cyclone is rapidly moving south-east and could reach category three before it makes landfall, the Bureau of Meteorology warned.
Dirk Hartog Island is another location expected to be seriously hit by the storm.
“We’ve locked all the doors at Sunday Island Bay house and turned the radio on,” Casey Hill, operations manager at the Dirk Hartog Island Eco Lodge, told Australian Associated Press.
“Wind is starting to pick up now and we’re likely to lose all communication and power.”
The cyclone is the latest severe weather front to hit Australia in recent weeks.
Last month, areas of eastern Australia were evacuated as rivers and dams overflowed in the worst floods in decades, with around 18,000 people displaced.