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West readies to take first hit as cyclones close in

Saturday January 29, 2011 - 21:22 EDT

Australia's east and west coasts are preparing to be hit by two tropical cyclones in the next two days, as a third, larger system continues to lurk off the coast of Fiji.

Tropical Cyclone Bianca is forecast to hit south-west Western Australia on Sunday and Tropical Cyclone Anthony is expected to cross the coast north of Townsville, in Queensland, on Monday.

Authorities are urging people between Jurien Bay and Albany, in Western Australia, to prepare their homes as Cyclone Bianca moves towards the coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects the category three storm to weaken before hitting the coast sometime between Sunday morning and Sunday night.

The Bureau's Mike Bergin says with the cyclone continuing to weaken, the severity of its impact will depend on when it hits the coast.

"Something will move through the south-western parts of Western Australia tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow," he said.

"The question is whether it will be tomorrow morning or later in the day.

"If it's in the morning that's when we'll get the serious impact, if it's later in the day it will be much diminished. And that's the crux of the problem."

Off the coast of north Queensland, category one Cyclone Anthony is expected to gather speed and intensify slightly before crossing the coast between Townsville and Ayr early on Monday.

A cyclone watch is in place between Innisfail and St Lawrence.

Manfred Greitschus, from the weather bureau, says it is likely to bring galeforce winds and heavy rain across north Queensland late tomorrow.

"It could intensify just before it crosses the coast," he said.

Authorities are also monitoring a large system near Fiji, which could develop into a severe cyclone that could hit Queensland later next week.

Queensland's disaster coordinator Ian Stewart wants communities between Cooktown and Hervey Bay to prepare now.

Mr Stewart says authorities still believe the system near Fiji could develop into a category four or five cyclone.

"It is a very, very large system and is very concerning to us in terms of its size and its power," he said.

"Should it come towards Queensland, it is an issue that we should look at very, very carefully in terms of any further preparations, particularly for coastal shipping and obviously inundation."

He says they are concerned about the possibility of more flooding.

"Cyclones do bring large amounts of rain," he said.

Supermarkets have been warned to consider their lines of supply.

But Mr Stewart says two cyclones will not stretch resources beyond the state's limits.

"We're already considering how we can resupply both resources and assets into those areas and we take early action to pre-deploy specialist assets," he said.

"For example the Queensland Fire and Rescue Authority have already made arrangements to pre-deploy their urban search and rescue and some elements of their swift water rescue."

- ABC

© ABC 2010

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