Cyclone Olwyn To Strike Coastal WA

Words by: Mandy Tu
Header image credit: ABC News

Tropical Cyclone Olwyn reared its ugly head 500km north of Karratha and 660km northeast of Exmouth at around 12:29 pm on Thursday, the 12th of March, 2015.

It has since been steadily tracking south along the coast of Western Australia towards the west Pilbara shoreline at a rate of 26km/h.

Olwyn began as a Category 1 Tropical Cyclone, but has now been declared a Category 3, with wind speeds at 165km/h.

A High Seas Warning has been issued by the Australian Bureau of Metereology: tides are expected to rise significantly above the normal high tide mark, with dangerous flooding possibly ensuing in certain areas, namely the Onslow coastal area and then further south into the Ashburton and Gascoyne Rivers.

These areas are also subject to heavy rainfall ranging from 200 to 300 millimetres.

Emergency evacuation centres have been set up in Onslow, Carnarvon and Exmouth.

Residents of Onslow are being implored to prepare to relocate as Cyclone Olwyn approaches the West Australian coast.

It is expected to arrive at the coast between Exmouth and Mardie late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Pilbara ports have been closed, due to destructive wind gusts exceeding 165km/h.

Exmouth authorities are preparing for the oncoming storm by organizing food supplies for the evacuation centre. They believe that the evacuation centre should be able to house dozens of people but fear that supplies may wear thin once the number reaches a hundred.

Carnarvon is also undergoing emergency preparations, in an effort to refuse history its repetition. The flood that claimed Carnarvon in December 2010 had State Emergency Service crews flying in to assist its victims.

Since then, $60 million worth of new flood levies have been set up, and with these, there is the hope that they will soften the impact of Cyclone Olwyn.

Perth is expected to get off relatively lightly in the aftermath of the cyclone, which is expected to weaken as it travels further south, with at least 50 millimetres of rainfall to drench the metropolitan area on Saturday, to clear up on Sunday.