Weather News

Christine slowly weakening after storming through the Pilbara

Rob Sharpe, Tuesday December 31, 2013 - 14:34 EDT

Tropical Cyclone Christine crossed the Pilbara coast around midnight last night, but it could have been worse.

Christine made landfall as a severe category three system just to the east of the small towns of Wickham and Roebourne and just over 100km west of Port Hedland with gusts estimated to be near 220km/h.

At this stage it is hard to comprehend the scale of the damage on the towns hardest hit, With some people only starting it venture outside.

Weather stations provide us with the earliest indications of the impact of Christine. Roebourne seems to have been the hardest hit by the winds with gusts of 172km/h recorded. Rainfall ranged from 100-170mm between Karratha, Port Hedland and Marble Bar, with a bit more to come.

These conditions would be powerful enough to fell trees, tear roofs off some homes and it is already known that 7000 homes were left without power.

From the current information it is likely that the situation could have been much worse for Karratha and Port Hedland. Both towns saw gusts to around 130km/h, but could have been much higher if the cyclone had tracked closer to either location.

Generally, the most dangerous part of a tropical cyclone is the storm surge created by the fierce winds dragging the sea onto the coast. It is likely that houses near the beaches will have been inundated by the sea.

Just before midday, Christine was still a category two and was heading further south into central WA. It brings the potential for gale force winds about the inland towns of Paraburdoo, Tom Price, Three Rivers, Wiluna and possibly even Newman and Leinster.

As Christine moves further inland it will continue weakening as it lacks its energy source - the very warm waters off the Pilbara Coast. Wind and rain will gradually ease as it moves towards the South Australian border.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2013

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