Australia: Cyclone Veronica lashes west coast

Red alert issued as the storm crawls into the Pilbara coast with damaging winds, large storm surge and flooding rains.

    A red alert has been issued along Australia's Pilbara coast as severe tropical Cyclone Veronica begins to make landfall.

    The centre of the storm is currently located around 95 kilometres west of Port Hedland. It has slowed down on its approach and now looks like it may even stall there for a time.

    The cyclone's core has reached land and is over the coast just east of Roebourne and west of Port Hedland. The centre is forecast to remain near the coast for about eight to 12 hours.

    Legendre Island reported a wind gust of 157km/h on Sunday morning before the storm. At the same time, Roebourne recorded 139km/h and Port Hedland 119km/h.

    Sustained winds around 150km/h and gusting over 205km/h can be expected for some time.

    The slow movement of the cyclone means that communities in its path should prepare to shelter from the destructive winds for an extended period on Sunday and Monday.

    The damaging winds will be accompanied by a prolonged spell of torrential rainfall which is likely to cause major flooding. Significant river rises are expected with some areas getting 500mm of rain over the next few days.

    Port Hedland has already recorded 182mm of rain in 24 hours.

    Massive waves of up to 11 metres are possible along with a large storm surge. Tides are likely to rise significantly above normal levels, leading to damaging waves and the risk of dangerous coastal inundation.

    Veronica will weaken quickly overnight and start to move to the west. Further weakening is expected during Monday but the flooding rains will be an issue until the middle of the week.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies