Cyclone Clare batters Western Australia

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The eye of Cyclone Clare, a category three storm hit the Western Australian coastline at 11PM AWST on Monday (3PM Monday UTC).

Cyclone Clare crossed the coast 100Km north of Karratha, battering the Pilbara region with winds up to 195 km/h.

Initially it was predicted that the storm would hit the coast at around 9PM local time, but the storm slowed from 18 to 12 km/h delaying its arrival for two hours.

A large storm surge had been predicted, but forecasters say it is unlikely to eventuate. The sea is predicted to swell by only two to three metres.

Reports from the area advise that electricity supply has failed, but there has been no major structural damage to buildings and no injuries. Crews are assessing damage in Karratha and Dampier following Clare. Work teams are in the process of restoring electricity and telephone services.

Earlier today residents of Karratha and Dampier were advised to stay indoors due to flying debris caused by strong winds and the possibility of power lines being down. This advisory has since been lifted. The Bureau of Meteorology has advised residents to "proceed with caution".

As the storm moves inland it continues to lose strength, being downgraded to a category two storm earlier today (10:00AM AWST) when it neared the town of Pannawonica. Winds were up to 140 km/h. The storm has since been downgraded again, to a category one storm.

The main concern now is for flooding due to heavy rain.

Lynne Nanini from Main Roads's Pilbara office said the rain that follows may be more troublesome than the cyclone itself.

"We're mainly concerned about any rainfall that may eventuate out of Tropical Cyclone Clare and as in the past, a few cyclones that we've had, most of our damage is actually caused by flooding." she said.

"First Tropical Cyclone of 2006 forms off West Australia" — Wikinews, January 9, 2006