TC Veronica slows as she makes her way towards Pilbara coast
Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica has slowed down as she continues to rage and approach the Pilbara coast.
The Category 4 storm is now travelling at 6km an hour as she closes in on land between Pardoo and Roebourne, with landfall potentially close to Port Hedland.
At the 8.55am update from the Bureau of Meterology, forecasters said Veronica was travelling at 8km an hour, but the latest advice issued at 12.02pm showed her slowing down as she sat 215 km north of Karratha and 235km northwest of Port Hedland.
The tracking map released at 12.09pm shows the cyclone potentially swinging back towards Karratha after landfall, reducing in strength until it drops to a Tropical Low by 12pm on Tuesday.
The bureau has warned that Veronica is travelling unusually slowly and communities could be looking at needing to shelter from the destructive winds for an extended period of 12 hours or more
As they wait for her wrath, local residents are making their final preparations for wind, rain and flooding - several key arterial roads in the region are now closed.
Some roads are still open to four-wheel-drives and trucks, and motorists are advised to check with Main Roads before heading out. The arterial roads closed to all traffic, include the North West Coastal Highway, Great Northern Highway and Karratha Tom Price Road.
The WA Country Health Service has told residents that Karratha and Hedland Health Campus emergency departments will continue to operate throughout a red alert, but Roebourne Hospital will close, reopening only once the red alert has lifted.
Evacuation centres have been set up at the JD Hardie Centre, Cottier Drive, South Hedland and Karratha Leisureplex, Dampier Highway. As of 1pm, there were 60 people at the Hedland evacuation centre.
Earlier today, Karratha residents had been waiting for another delivery of sandbags, but by 8am a sign outside the city’s SES volunteer unit said they had instead gone to Hedland.
Karratha SES deputy manager Donna Walker spoke to the Pilbara News this morning, urging locals to look after themselves first, but to make sure to check on neighbours, family and friends when they could.
“At the moment we haven’t had too many calls for rescue, most of its been around sandbagging,” she said.
“Most of our activity at the moment is intelligence gathering and planning in liaison with the BOM, DFES and the City of Karratha.
“We had a truck delivery (of sandbags) scheduled for today, however, overnight the direction track of the cyclone has altered and it is heading more towards Port Hedland and it’s looking more like they are going to have a more sustained influence by this tropical cyclone.
“Their need is greater, so we’ve sent the truck on to Port Hedland to make sure they have adequate supplies.”
Those living and working in the Blue and Yellow alert zones have spent a nervous couple of days collecting supplies to see them through the cyclone, which is predicted to be one of the worst seen in the region in the past five years.
The warning zone stretches from Wallal to Mardie, with the watch zone now taking in Pannawonica and Nullagine.
At 12.02pm, Tropical Cyclone Advice Number 22 was issued by the BOM, which said Veronica as still a Category 4, blowing sustained winds near the centre of 165km an hour wind gusts to 230km an hour.
Releasing the latest data, the Bureau of Meteorology said a severe coastal impact was expected.
“The very destructive winds near the centre of the cyclone (are) likely to affect the coast from late Saturday,” the Bureau said. “The system is expected to cross the coast during Sunday.”
Ms Walker’s advice for those in Karratha who still need to sandbag was to use whatever resources available at home.
“There’s a multitude of things you can access that you’ve got around the house and to make best efficient use of those resources,” she said. “So pillowcases, garbage bags, those sorts of things, use to make sandbags. The most important thing is to not overfill them and to place them strategically.”
Ms Walker also said that if you had a water course coming towards you, digging a trench was a preferable strategy than simply relying on sandbags.
“Be reasonable with your resources,” she said. “So if you have an abundance of sandbags, or if you have resources that you can share with others ... make sure they are available for others in need.
“Look after yourself first, but then check on your family, neighbours and friends. It’s important at these times that we look out for each other, because then it’s all better when it’s all over.”
The latest warnings can be found at www.bom.gov.au/wa/warnings/. Residents are advised to keep watch on official warnings.
The next alert update is expected at 1pm.
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