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April 29th, 2019 by admin

George launches cyclone season

Communities at the top end of Western Australia have braced themselves for destructive winds and flooding.

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George is the first tropical cyclone of the WA season and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) believes the storm could develop into a severe cyclone over the next few days.

The storm system has already caused widespread damage, dumping torrential rain across the NT before it whipped up to cyclone force as it crossed the border into WA.

It has battered the northeast coast of WA, between Wyndham and Kalumburu, with destructive gusts up to 130 km/h, causing abnormally high tides and localised flooding, BOM senior forecaster Andrew Burton said.

Mr Burton said the force two cyclone would weaken overnight as it crosses land on its westerly path.

“It will struggle a bit overnight but then once it gets out over the water, in the west Kimberley, it should begin to intensify again and there is a very good chance of it becoming a severe tropical cyclone,” Mr Burton said.

George is the first cyclone of the WA season which runs between November and April, with most activity in the latter half.

Before it was upgraded to cyclone status it caused widespread damage in the NT, closing roads, cutting off communities, causing evacuations and washing out a three to five kilometre section of the Adelaide to Darwin railway line.

A flood watch under the Katherine Region Flood Plan was declared but NT police commander Greg Dowd said the area’s residents should not panic.

“The watch is declared to forewarn people in low-lying areas that they need to be making decisions about what action they need to take to protect their property in those areas,” he said.

“Advice we have is that the catchment area for the Katherine River has not experienced significant rainfall in the past 24 hours or so.”

Forty homes were evacuated in Oenpelli yesterday and police said more than 90 people in public shelters were faring well after being provided with meals and bedding by local volunteers.