Red alerts posted as Cyclone Christine tracks toward Western Australia

Dec. 30, 2013 at 10:36 AM   |   0 comments

PORT HEDLAND, Australia, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Cyclone Christine's forecast track toward Western Australia's Pilbara coast prompted red alerts for Port Hedland and Karratha, officials said.

Cyclone Christine, a Category 3 storm, was forecast to bring storm surges as high as 16 feet, flooding, rain and winds of as much as 200 kilometers an hour (about 124 mph) in an its expected landfall between Karratha and Port Hedland later Monday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Neil Bennett of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, warned the winds would be destructive and Christine would intensify as it crosses the coast.

"We could see wind gusts in excess of 130 kilometers an hour [about 81 mph] being generated, and then right around the core as it crosses the coast we could see winds even stronger than that, perhaps as strong as 200 kilometers an hour or even greater that," he said.

Bennett said 6- to 12 inches of rain were possible.

"This is a very powerful system and one that needs to be treated with a great deal of caution," he said.

Australia's largest iron ore miners were forced to cease operations, ABC said. With a red alert now in place, residents must remain indoors and shut off gas, water and electricity supplies.

Port Hedland Mayor Kelly Howlett said a red alert means people must not venture outside until officials give the all-clear, ABC said.

"It means remaining indoors, and remaining indoors until the official all clear has been declared," she said.

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