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Rusty intensifies off Pilbara coast

Josh Fisher, Wednesday February 27, 2013 - 04:44 EDT

Tropical Cyclone Rusty has remained near stationary overnight while gaining strength before its track towards the Pilbara coast on Wednesday.

As of 11pm WST Severe Tropical Cyclone Rusty was a strong category three system spinning off Pilbara coast, approximately 125km north-northeast of Port Hedland. Rusty has remained near stationary during the night and is slowly gaining strength.

This large tropical cyclone is expected to resume a southerly track towards the Pilbara coast during Wednesday. The slow motion and large size of Rusty means that destructive winds will occur on the coast well before the centre crosses.

Port Hedland has already experienced a wind gust to 120km/h. These conditions are likely to slowly worsen on Wednesday as the system approaches.

Very destructive winds with gusts in excess of 165km/h are likely to develop in coastal parts between Whim Creek and Pardoo during Wednesday. Near the centre of the cyclone, winds gusts are reaching around 205km/h and are still intensifying.

The slow motion of Rusty also means that very heavy rainfall will occur over a wide area for an extended period. This will bring rainfall that is heavier than that associated with a typical system.

The heaviest rain is likely to falls between Port Hedland and Bidyadanga, where widespread totals a of 300-600mm are likely from this system. The heavy rain will also spread inland from the Pilbara during Wednesday and Thursday. This is likely to cause major flooding in the De Grey catchment and significant flooding through the Fortescue catchment and in Pilbara coastal streams.

Rusty is also making its approach when tides are nearing their highest for the year. This will lead to a very dangerous storm tide. Tides are likely to rise significantly above the normal high tide mark with damaging waves and very dangerous coastal inundation.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Rusty is expected to cross the coast between Port Hedland and Pardoo later on Wednesday. The system will then track inland and begin to weaken, however a cyclone watch extends to northern parts of the Gascoyne. The remnants of Rusty will also bring heavy rainfall to a large area of Western Australia.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2013

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