Communities in Western Australia’s Mid West have been urged to evacuate before the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Seroja, which is set to bring gale-force winds, heavy rain and storm tides as it reaches land.
Seroja is forecast to make landfall on Sunday afternoon as a Category 2 cyclone, packing destructive winds with gusts of up to 150km/h at its centre as it hits the coast.
The area between Geraldton and Denham is most at risk from the cyclone’s destructive wind gusts and flooding, the Bureau of Meteorology said in a warning on Saturday night.
“Seroja will be moving fast, so weather conditions will deteriorate rapidly as it approaches,” BOM said.
Some residents in Denham have already been ordered to evacuate as the cyclone is expected to bring a storm surge, which is a high tide that will potentially inundate homes in the town.
People who live in the yellow warning zone area between Carnarvon and Kalbarri have been told to go to their nearest evacuation centre or to stay with family or friends.
They have been told to pack medicines, clothes, important documents and pet supplies, and place items up high to avoid water damage.
The yellow warning zone does not include the townships of Carnarvon and Kalbarri but is between them.
Those who stay put are advised to organise an emergency kit including first aid supplies, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.
Evacuation centres have been established in Denham, Port Denison and Carnarvon and a free bus service will run on Sunday from Geraldton to Port Denison.
Unusually high tides could cause serious flooding in the Denham and Shark Bay region and near Kalbarri, and minor flooding on the coast between Coral Bay and Lancelin, BOM says.
“We hope we can get through the next few days without loss of life,” Emergency Services Minister Reece Whitby said on Saturday afternoon.
Unlike the state’s northwest, buildings in the Mid West are not built for cyclones, including structures in Geraldton which hasn’t seen cyclonic conditions for decades, he said.
Mr Whitby said that every government agency was preparing to respond to what could be a “very significant and devastating event”.
A number of roads will be closed in the area on Sunday because of the cyclone, which should weaken as it moves inland on Monday.