Cyclone hits with 170kmh winds

Last updated 13:08 31/12/2013
Fairfax Australia

Port Hedland residents brace as severe tropical cyclone Christine bears down.

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Residents in Western Australia's Pilbara region are hunkered down as Tropical Cyclone Christine brings destructive winds and torrential rain.

This morning, the category three storm crossed the coast between Whim Creek and Roebourne and is expected to continue tracking south.

The Bureau of Meteorology advised at 6am (WST) the cyclone was about 120km south of Karratha and 170km north northwest of Paraburdoo.

According to the Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), destructive winds with gusts to 170 kmh have been recorded at Roebourne Airport.

DFES Superintendent Merv Austic said there had been a variety of calls for assistance.

"We've had 28 calls for various types of assistance, from power poles being down to roofs being lost to trees falling on houses, but in general it's been pretty good with not too many calls at this stage," he told ABC 24.

"The problem that we've got at the moment (in assessing the damage) is that most of the communities are still on red alert which basically means that everyone is bunkered down and there can be no movement."

Power and water have been disrupted with the communities of Roebourne, Karratha and Point Samson without power.

More than 100 Horizon Power customers are also without power in Port Hedland.

Water Corp has advised that the Yule Borefield, which supplies Port Hedland, will be significantly impacted by the cyclone.

A red alert is in place for residents between De Grey and Mardie, including Tom Price and Paraburdoo, in the Pilbara.

People in Tom Price were told to expect destructive wind gusts to start about 8am (WST).

Gale winds with gusts up to 115kmh have lashed De Grey and Mardie and will extend to inland Pilbara in the morning, according to DFES.

DFES also advises there is a threat to lives and homes.

"Very destructive winds with gusts in excess of 170 kilometres per hour are possible near the centre over the next few hours," DFES said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

Widespread heavy rainfall is expected to hit the region and flood warnings are in place for the Pilbara.

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