Panic has set in as residents prepare for the onslaught of Cyclone Damien.
Supermarket shelves have been stripped bare of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and suppliers are racing to re-stock them as the countdown begins for heavy rainfall and damaging winds.
Weather forecasters believe it will be the most severe weather event on the Pilbara coast in six years, leading to widespread destruction for communities around Karratha, Port Hedland and Dampier.
The cyclone started forming off the coast of Western Australia on Wednesday afternoon, and was named by the Bureau of Meteorology after developing into a category one cyclone.
Forecasters this morning upgraded the event to a Category Four Tropical Cyclone as it heads inland over the the Pilbara coast.
But as residents prepare for the onslaught of the event they’re panic buying supplies as they ready themselves for lock down at the weekend.
Shelves have been stripped bare at numerous Woolworths, Coles and other grocery supplies across Karratha, Port Hedland and other major centres in WA’s north.
A spokesperson for Coles told Daily Mail Australia despite bringing forward deliveries for the stores in the affected areas there are still likely to be shortfalls .
Four truckloads arrived this morning with fresh produce, meat, milk and groceries to replenish the stores in Karratha, South Hedland and Broome stores.
‘As the storm system has moved faster than anticipated, deliveries expected on Saturday are likely to be delayed to Monday, the spokesperson said.
‘This means there will be some stock shortages at our stores in the Pilbara, however we are working with authorities managing road access to improve product availability as quickly as possible.’
Meanwhile the Woolworths store at Karratha remained open on Friday afternoon but operators are monitoring the weather situation closely with local authorities.
A spokesperson confirmed supplies are back in stock after panic-buying hit on Thursday.
‘Deliveries overnight have replenished the store and we expect our usual truck deliveries today,’ the spokesperson said.
‘We’ve ordered plenty of additional stock including key essentials like water, long life milk, baby formula, tinned food and nappies.’
Forecasters are saying Cyclone Damien it will bring even more destruction than Cyclone Christine in 2014.
Wind gusts of up to 240 kilometers an hour are expected to cause widespread damage, pulling down trees and power lines which will result in power outages and structural damage around the Pilbara coast.
Damaging winds, coastal flooding and rough surf will set in between Port Hedland and Onslow late Friday night and Saturday.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said the oil and gas sector are also likely to suffer a blow as a result of the storm.
‘There may even be a risk for impacts to natural gas and oil production as Damien moves through the area,’ he said.
‘A number of gas and liquid processing facilities will be in the path of the storm.’
The storm event is forecast to bring significant rainfall to affected areas as the storm pushes inland.
Widespread rainfall totals of 100-200 mm are forecast, with falls of up to 400 mm possible in the worst affected areas, leading to flash flooding.
Authorities closed about 20 schools, high schools and education providers on Friday as weather worsened in the area.