A TROPICAL cyclone is rapidly developing off Western Australia's north coast and could become a Category 4 storm before it reaches land. The Bureau of Meteorology says the system is likely to move more to the south-southwest, towards the north-west coast of WA, and intensify into a severe tropical cyclone. The BOM's Grahame Reader said gales may commence on the central Pilbara coast between Whim Creek and Onslow on Friday morning, and extend later in the day to the west Pilbara coast.
At this stage, the Bureau predicts the Northwest Cape region is most at risk of severe impact on Saturday and Sunday, depending upon the cyclone's track. However, the BOM says it is possible that the cyclone may remain far enough off the coast to avoid a severe impact. Thunderstorm activity is expected to increase about the Pilbara coast on Friday and isolated heavy rainfall is possible in the outer bands of the cyclone.
In the longer term, the cyclone may track further south off the west coast. TC Narelle is the second cyclone of the season after TC Mitchell's brief appearance last month but is likely to be the first to have an impact on the WA coast.
CYCLONE WATCH ALERT
The BOM has issued a cyclone watch has been declared for coastal areas from Whim Creek to Onslow, and residents in these areas have been warned to prepare their homes and family for severe storms. The watch includes people in Whim Creek, Roebourne, Wickham, Dampier, Karratha, Mardie, Onslow and surrounding areas. TC Narelle is developing 900km north of Karratha and 1070km north north-east of Exmouth, and is moving west south-west at 11km per hour. The Bureau of Meteorology said the cyclone was expected to intensify in the next few days.
"Gales with gusts to 100km per hour may develop in coastal areas between Whim Creek and Onslow on Friday morning as the cyclone moves closer to the coast, then extends west to Exmouth later on Friday,'' the bureau said. "The cyclone is rapidly intensifying and is likely to develop into a severe tropical cyclone as it moves towards the Northwest Cape.''
The State Emergency Service advises residents to review their family cyclone plan and know the community cyclone alert system. Residents have also been reminded to organise an emergency kit with a portable battery operated radio, torch, spare batteries and first aid kit.