The Western Australian community of Port Hedland has battened down for the arrival of cyclone Rusty, a 140mph storm headed for the world's biggest mining port.
Rusty, a category four storm, was forecast to cross the coast on Wednesday afternoon or evening near Port Headland, 1,000 miles north of Perth.
Residents in Rusty's path have been put on red alert, the highest possible weather warning level, requiring them to stay indoors until an all-clear is given. Many have taken shelter in evacuation centres from winds of 120km/h lashing the coastline even before the storm made landfall.
Australia's weather bureau said the slow approach of the cyclone, which stalled off the coast early on Wednesday, as well as its size, meant "very destructive winds" would hit the coast well ahead of the arrival of the main body of the storm. Six hundred millimetres – 24 inches – of rain is expected to fall over 24-48 hours.
"These are severe tropical cyclones. These are very, very powerful systems and even though many residents in the Pilbara have been through a number of tropical cyclones, they still bring with them an element of risk and they just can't be underestimated," the Bureau of Meteorology's Neil Bennett told the ABC.
"[This] evening we could see some gusts getting up to nearly 250km/h [155mph]. It's going to be a long, protracted and quite dangerous experience."You can follow the storm's progress at the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC North West WA, and the Pilbara Echo.