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Cyclone could hit WA's north within days, as residents count cost of severe storm

By Georgia Loney and Emily Smith, Tuesday January 9, 2018 - 19:10 EDT
ABC image
Rod Johnston's aircraft was flipped by strong winds at Derby Airport during a thunderstorm at the weekend. - ABC

A severe tropical cyclone could lash Western Australia's north in the next day or two, as a tropical low continues to brew off the state's Kimberley coast.

A cyclone blue alert was issued on Monday, a day after a thunderstorm hit the town of Derby, 220 kilometres east of Broome, damaging a home and flipping a light aircraft at the local airport.

The alert is in place for people between Kuri Bay and Wallal Downs, including Broome and Derby.

Hundreds of oil and gas workers have been evacuated from offshore rigs, in preparation for dangerous weather and gales of up to 100 kilometres an hour.

The tropical low is currently lying close to the north-west Kimberley coast, but is expected to move offshore and possibly develop into a cyclone on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has urged people need to prepare for cyclonic weather and organise emergency kits including a first aid kit, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water.

Communities in the Kimberley are which brought heavy rain and damaging winds just after Christmas.

Derby residents assess severe storm damage

People in Derby are counting the cost of a thunderstorm which hit on Sunday night, with winds of 170 kilometres an hour.

Bush Flights air tour operator Rod Johnston said his $650,000 plane was likely to be a write-off after it was flipped over by strong winds.

Mr Johnston said the aircraft had been tied down but the ties snapped in the severe winds.

"The tail tie down point on this one was literally torn out of the aircraft, which obviously freed the tail and allowed the wind to blow it upside down," said Mr Johnston.

Part of a home was also destroyed when a tree was struck by lightning and collapsed onto the roof.

Resident Cathy Partridge, who is renting the house, was home at the time.

"I thought the lightning had hit the house, then this morning when I got up I saw the tree that was right next to the house that had come down," said Ms Partridge.


© ABC 2018

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