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Tropical Cyclone Kelvin weakens, but heavy flooding cuts off Great Northern Highway

By Sarah Collard, Rebecca Trigger, and Graeme Powell, Monday February 19, 2018 - 18:39 EDT

A cyclone which brought damaging winds and heavy rain to northern WA has weakened to a tropical low, but there are fears flooding affecting a major supply road could impact food delivery in the region.

Wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour are still likely over the far eastern Pilbara, but all alerts have been cancelled.

The rainfall has affected arterial supply roads, including the Great Northern Highway, with Broome recording one of its wettest seasons on record.

Main Roads regional manager Andrew Pyke said the Great Northern Highway was an important thoroughfare for the region.

"The Great Northern Highway is basically the supply chain from North to South through the Kimberley and it's a vital link into Broome, Derby, Halls Creek in terms of logistical support carrying food for those towns," he said.

Mr Pyke said due to previous systems weakening road infrastructure repairs could take several weeks or months.

"A lot of those repairs might have actually been damaged again and there would be some new damage as well, so I would say there's a few months of repair works for crews in both the Kimberley and the northern parts of the Pilbara," Mr Pyke said.

"Obviously if a road is under half-a-metre it's not really in a situation where you can be effecting even temporary repairs."

This morning, a roughly 660 kilometre stretch of the highway was closed from just north-east of Port Hedland up to Willare.

Further north, the Gibb River Road is closed in both directions east of Derby to Durack.

Supermarket 'monitoring food stocks'

Major supermarket Coles said it prepared early to ensure stocks were unaffected.

"We were pleased to receive our full weekend's delivery of stock to our store in Broome yesterday," a spokesperson said on Sunday.

The spokesperson said they were closely monitoring the developing situation.

"We will continue to assess the situation as it unfolds so that we can meet the needs of our customers in the region over the coming days," a statement said.

East Pilbara Council Shire president Lynne Craigie, who is located in Newman, more than 1,000km north of Perth, said as the cyclone moved inland road users should be aware of closures.

"The big issue for us in the inland is more the amount of water that we get and the amount of damage that does to our roads, so often we have lots of flooding on our dirt and gravel roads which can lead to washaways," Ms Craigie said.

"We've always got to be very vigilant that we're telling tourists to check whether roads are open, and if the roads are closed to obey those signs — not only tourists but locals as well."

Thunderstorms hit state's south

Meanwhile down south, a severe thunderstorm has dumped heavy rain on towns along the coast.

This morning Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Matt Boterhoven said officials figures were not in, but it had received reports of 106 millimetres of rain at Cascade, north of Esperance.

Scaddan has recorded 85mm.

Grass Patch 65mm, and parts of Esperance almost 50mm.

The bureau is warning severe thunderstorms between Norseman and Esperance are likely to produce damaging winds today and may lead to flash flooding.


© ABC 2018

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