Cyclone Rusty weakens over Australia

Last updated 15:24 28/02/2013

Australia braces for powerful cyclone

Western Australia cyclone rusty
Australia Bureau of Meteorology
MOVING SLOWLY: The cyclone's position on Wednesday afternoon as seen from a weather satellite.

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Tropical Cyclone Rusty in Western Australia's Pilbara region has been downgraded to a category one, allowing emergency services authorities to give the all clear to the small communtiues of Pardoo and Marble Bar.

While the wind danger has passed for these towns, Nullagine is  now on red alert for gales, which may extend to Newman on later today before Rusty weakens below cyclone intensity.

Before it eases, the cyclone could bring damaging wind gusts up  to 120kmh near the centre.

This morning, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology estimated Rusty was 65km  east of Marble Bar and 260km north northeast of Newman, moving  south-southeast at 10kmh.

A small clean-up is under way at Port Hedland, which had been  expected to feel the full force of the cyclone, but came through  relatively unscathed after a late change of course, with only tree  branches littering roads and about 55 homes without power.

Pardoo also emerged remarkably unscathed after copping a direct hit when the huge storm crossed the coast late at its peak as a category four system.

Pardoo Roadhouse owner Ian Badger braced himself for the worst when Rusty veered away from its original predicted destination of Port Hedland.

But his anxiety, while certainly understandable, turned out to be fortuitously unfounded.

Speaking on Radio 6PR on Wednesday night, Badger reported only some damage to a shed, relatively minor water inundation and disturbance to his sleep patterns.

"It's almost peaceful outside for the first time in three or four days," Badger said.

"We've been pretty lucky this time. Cyclone Lua last year was a bit more intense."

Badger said his clean-up effort after Rusty would still be significant but paperwork might be the hardest part of that task.

"Now I've got to deal with the insurance companies," he said.

"Dealing with a cyclone is much easier than dealing with insurance companies."

Widespread very heavy rainfall is likely to cause major flooding in the De Grey catchment, with flooding possible in the Upper Fortescue catchment and in remaining east Pilbara coastal streams.

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- AAP

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