Residents of Karratha on the Pilbara coast are taking shelter in their homes as tropical cyclone Carlos sweeps close by, threatening to bring gale-force winds and flooding.
At 10.30am (WST) on Tuesday, Roebourne Shire President Nicole Lockwood said there was no activity on the streets of the oil and gas town and everyone was waiting for the category 2 cyclone to pass.
“It’s just about to come over us so it’s getting very windy, and rain, and we’re all just bunkered in waiting.
“We’ve been on red alert since the early hours of the morning so everyone’s been in their place of shelter since then.”
Ms Lockwood said low lying parts of the town and caravan parks had been evacuated with people seeking shelter with family or friends or at a relocation centre at the Pilbara TAFE.
All schools in the town have been closed for the day.
Ms Lockwood said houses in Karratha were rated to stand up to a category 5 cyclone so people should be safe if they stayed away from windows and retreated to the strongest part of their homes.
The Bureau of Meteorology said that at 8am (WST) on Tuesday Carlos was about 75km northeast of Karratha and moving southwest at 22km/h.
On Monday a cyclone-fuelled mini tornado ripped through parts of Karratha, damaging cars and buildings and bringing down power lines.
Ms Lockwood said crews had worked to clear debris and electricity crews had worked through the night to restore supply to all but 60 out of about 1600 homes that had lost power.
No further damage had been reported in Karratha since the tornado, she said.
“It’s been very mild up till now, I think it’s the next couple of hours that will tell.”
A red alert was in place for coastal communities between Whim Creek and Mardie including Karratha, Roebourne, Dampier, Wickham and Point Samson, with residents warned to expect high winds and possible flooding.
Oil, gas and port installations in the region have also been battened down in readiness for expected heavy weather.