Cyclone Veronica: Destructive winds and rain lash Australia

Pilbara: As tropical Cyclone Veronica begins to make landfall at the west coast, a red alert has been issued.

Preparations commenced during the latter part of last week to prepare the site and evacuate personnel.

Veronica weakened overnight to a category two, from a category three, and will continue to head west today.

It said the "severe" storm was producing wind gusts of up to 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph), pushing a storm surge of up to two metres (seven feet) onto the coast.

Businesses affected included those in the iron ore export hubs of the Pilbara region, as well as Rio Tinto's bauxite operations in Weipa to the east. The company will provide further updates if the situation changes.

Widespread heavy rainfall and very unsafe storm tides, causing very risky coastal inundation, are also expected.

"The rain has petered off a bit but it was belting down", he said. "On social media, we've seen a few trees lifted out".

While that area is also lightly populated, residents were warned that because the cyclone was moving unusually slowly - at less than 1 kilometer (half a mile) per hour - they would likely have to shelter for several hours.

They said people would need to stay in shelter longer than usual due to the destructive storm's slow pace.

"We are expecting a prolonged period-12 hours or more-of destructive winds near the core of the cyclone".

"Don't risk your own life, don't risk the lives of your children, don't risk the life of others".

Cyclone Trevor, a category four, hit the Northern Territory on Saturday.

Once the immediate risks have passed, Woodside's focus will remain the ongoing welfare of our people, their families and our communities, and the safe return to full operations of our production facilities.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster James Ashley said Veronica was unique because of its slow speed, which would bring a long danger period.

  • Tracy Klein