Homes are without power and trees have been flattened as tropical cyclone Damien batters Western Australia’s northern coast.
The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed the cyclone reached Dampier, with its effects being felt at the industrial port and the nearby city of Karratha.
Destructive winds of up to 205km/h and heavy rain has hit the region as a red alert weather warning is in place for the state’s Pilbara region.
The category three cyclone is causing gusts of up to 220 km/h near its centre, and is the strongest cyclone to hit land in the area since 2013.
BOM said both Karratha and Dampier have seen the worst of the cyclone so far, but destructive winds are now affecting Roebourne and Wickham.
The worst of the winds won’t pass the area until the tail end of the cyclone moves through.
When that occurs, debris that has been stripped by the front end of the cyclone could be thrown around, the BOM’s Neil Bennett said.
‘Getting into fading light, it’s particularly dangerous and a very hazardous environment to be out and about in,’ he told reporters in Perth on Saturday.
Images show trees that have been pulled from the ground as the eye wall of the cyclone passed through the Pilbara region on Saturday afternoon.
The eye wall is located around the eye of the cyclone and carries the strong wind and rain, ABC reports.
Mr Bennett said another surge of destructive weather is going to hit the area as the second eye wall passes through.
‘It’s still a very powerful system after the eye goes through,’ he said.
‘It [the wind]drops off really, really quickly because the eye passes over you … but they pick up at the other end … it is a very rapid increase in wind speed.’
The strongest winds have been recorded at 205km/h.
Damien is heading south-to-southeast steadily at a rate of about 13 km/h.
It is forecast to hit De Grey to Onslow, including Port Hedland, Pannawonica, Barrow Island and extend to Tom Price and Paraburdoo.
Residents between Dampier and Whim Creek have been warned of the potential for a very dangerous storm tide.
Heavy rain is also expected to cause flooding in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions, with falls of up to 300mm or more possible in some areas.
A ‘red alert’ is an effect for people in or near Whim Creek to Mardie and south to Pannawonica, with residents told to seek shelter immediately.
Residents between Dampier and Pardoo Roadhouse were warned on Saturday morning of the potential for a very dangerous storm tide.
Tides are expected to rise above the normal high tide mark causing damaging waves and very dangerous flooding.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA Assistant Commissioner Metropolitan Brad Delavale said the alert is likely to remain in place all night and urged the community to heed the warning.
‘The warning is quite clear, so I ask the community to abide by those warnings, to stay indoors,’ Mr Delavale said.
‘We have emergency personnel to deploy for assistance however that is for emergency situations, not for people who are just taking it on themselves to venture out.’
There have already been reports of power losses in affected areas, the assistant commissioner said.
The cyclone is expected to drop to category two sometime after midnight, before its winds weaken and lose cyclone status on Monday.
There are five tropical cyclone categories based on wind speeds, with the first including those between 90-124km/h while the highest is for wind storms surpassing 280km/h.
Residents on Western Australia’s northern coast have begun sharing videos of the torrential downpour and the lashing winds sweeping in.
Footage from Karratha shows winds violently whipping trees back and forth as a dreary fog smothers the skyline.
Perth is not expected to be impacted by Damien.
This is the third cyclone of the season off the WA coast.