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Cyclone Blake tracks the Kimberley coast putting Western Australian communities on alert

Erin Parke and Claire Moodie, Tuesday January 7, 2020 - 18:24 EDT
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Emergency services were called after a tree fell on a car due to the high winds from the cyclone in Broome. - ABC

Western Australia's first tropical cyclone of the season is lashing the state's north-west coast, bringing strong winds and dumping heavy rain.

But, Cyclone Blake could turn out to be the perfect storm, delivering much-needed rainfall to bushfires in the state's southern Goldfields that have closed the main road into WA from the eastern states for over a week.

The Kimberley town of Broome was hit by maximum wind gusts up to 100 kilometres an hour and 146 millimetres of rain overnight, flooding roads and bringing flights in and out of the town to a standstill.

Early reports suggest there had been only three reports of damage in Broome, including one incident where a tree fell on a truck in the town's light industrial area.

Remote communities on the Dampier Peninsula, north of the town, were also affected with reports of trees down and damage to safari tents at a coastal tourism venture.

Djarindjin Aboriginal Community Chair Brian Lee said residents have been upbeat, despite the windy conditions.

"We've had some strong wind gusts come through, but no significant damage in the community at all," he said.

"We've got roads washed out, some have big holes in them, but overall the community has fared pretty well.

"We just hope the shop has enough supplies to last us until the shire opens the road, but for us it is business as usual."

Residents at Bidyadanga, south of Broome, have also been preparing for the weather system to arrive.

Chief Executive Tania Baxter said locals have spent months getting ready.

"We've done a lot of preparation work before the wet season, so we had our big trees lopped,"

"I'm pretty happy with what I've seen so far … we just have to be patient and wait for the system to go past to make sure everyone is going to be safe."

Cyclone weakened

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) had expected Cyclone Blake to intensify to a category 2 system but it weakened overnight.

Pete Clegg, from the Bureau's Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre, said Blake was now expected to cross the coast as a category 1 along Eighty Mile Beach near Wallal this evening.

"It did move overland and is now just offshore from the Kimberley coast," Mr Clegg said.

"So due to that interaction with land, it has weakened off in the last 12 hours."

Rain to reach fires

Mr Clegg said there was a good chance that the system could, later this week, deliver 30 to 50mm of rain to the fires burning around the Goldfields town of Norseman for over a week.

"There is the potential to see some really decent rainfall down through those southern parts of WA," he said.

"If it's enough to really aid the firefighting efforts down there, then obviously there's massive implications."

In Broome, over a hundred people sought shelter at an evacuation centre for travellers and people displaced by the cyclone.

Last night, local police were collecting people from the streets and taking them to the shelter.

Emergency services said at this stage only two homes have suffered minor flooding.


© ABC 2020

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