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Cyclone Narelle hits category 4 off WA

Friday January 11, 2013 - 09:55 EDT

Western Australian authorities are warning residents in the state's north-west to prepare for dangerous winds as Tropical Cyclone Narelle approaches the coast.

Early this morning the system had strengthened to category four and was estimated to be 570 kilometres north of Exmouth and 515 kilometres north north-west of Karratha, moving southwest at 16 kilometres per hour.

WA's State Emergency Service says the cyclone is not expected to the cross the coast, but could pass close to the communities of Exmouth, Onslow and Coral Bay.

A cyclone warning is in place for coastal areas from Whim Creek to Coral Bay, including Karratha, Dampier, Onslow and Exmouth.

Information officer Les Hayter says residents should brace for dangerous conditions today and throughout the weekend.

"The cyclone is obviously intensifying, it has been moving slow but its picked up speed. People in Onslow and particularly Exmouth and Coral Bay need to be very aware that we've got some strong gusty winds coming. I certainly wouldn't be out in them because you certainly can't predict what's going to happen." he said.

Staff at the Ningaloo Lighthouse Caravan Park, located on the tip of the North West Cape, are busy making final preparations before the bad weather hits.

Staff member Sheila Watson says while some guests cancelled their bookings, around 20 people remain on the coastal property, including several foreign tourists.

Ms Watson says while the park has cyclone-safe buildings, the SES is likely to evacuate guests if the situation becomes too dangerous.

"One particular couple from England are quite looking forward to being here during a cyclone. I said, 'Well you may not be in your accommodation, you may be in the evacuation centre'," she said.


© ABC 2013

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