Tropical Cyclone Seroja makes landfall as a category three system bringing destructive winds
The destructive core of Tropical Cyclone Seroja is moving inland north of Geraldton after wind gusts of up to 170 kph were reported during landfall.
Cyclone Seroja is forecast to cross the WA coast on Sunday night
Gusts of up to 150 kilometres per hour are expected at the cyclone's peak
Flash flooding is forecast in some areas due to intense rainfall
The storm hit the Western Australian coast south of Kalbarri at 8:00pm AWST on Sunday as a category three system.
Cyclone Seroja is travelling at around 55 kph and significant impacts are expected to extend south and inland through to Wheat Belt communities overnight.
The cyclone will weaken as it moves further inland on Monday but is still likely to result in damaging wind gusts and heavy rain.
A severe weather warning is current for areas to the southeast of the Tropical Cyclone Warning area.
The Bureau of Meteorology's Todd Smith said the cyclone was expected to cross the coast as a category two but had intensified.
"Even though we had anticipated the system to weaken a little bit, because waters off Kalbarri, Geraldton way are a little bit cooler than further north.. the system has maintained if not even intensified.
"So it's maintaining category three cyclone intensity."
Mr Smith said very damaging winds were likely for a few hours, with gale force winds lasting longer.
A red alert has been extended to include an area south of the Carnarvon townsite to Lancelin, including the City of Greater Geraldton and Shires of Carnamah, Coorow, Chapman Valley, Irwin, Mingenew, Morawa, Northampton, Perenjori, Shark Bay and Three Springs.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said towns within the red alert area would experience the impact of the cyclone until after midnight.
"You cannot go outside your home," Commissioner Klemm said.
"People must stay inside and activate your emergency plan."
Category 2 #TCSeroja rapidly moving southeast. Impacts to the west coast of WA begin this afternoon and inland parts this evening and overnight. Dangerous conditions including destructive wind gusts, intense rainfall and a dangerous storm tide. Latest info https://t.co/bku7VbhoZa pic.twitter.com/UD1DrGfve9 — Bureau of Meteorology, Western Australia (@BOM_WA) April 11, 2021
'Large storm posing a serious threat'
Earlier on Sunday, WA Premier Mark McGowan also urged people to take action.
"This is a very serious situation and people need to heed the emergency advice," he said.
"Tropical Cyclone Seroja is like nothing we have seen before in decades.
"This is a very large storm that is posing a very serious threat. Lives and homes are at risk. We expect significant damage.
"I urge everyone to take this situation seriously. I want everyone to stay safe."
A yellow alert is also current for north of Carnarvon to Minilya Roadhouse, inclusive, which means there is a possible threat to homes and lives and people need to get ready to shelter.
North of this and up to Coral Bay has been given the all clear.
The Department of Communities opened evacuation centres in Port Denison, Carnarvon and Denham.
'Avoid movement until all-clear is issued'
Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) incident controller Graham Sears told ABC Radio people subject to a red alert should shelter in a place with four solid walls and minimal windows.
"They need to go to that safe zone that they've identified in their house, which … might be a bathroom or passageway that has a good structure around it," he said.
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Mr Sears said people should also listen to the radio and check for emergency updates, avoiding movement until an all-clear had been issued.
"We're asking people not to take a peek out and go for a wander until we issue the all-clear," he said.
DFES said there may be some disruption to essential services such as power, telecommunications and water, but authorities were working to limit the disruption.
The Department of Communities has asked some residents in Denham to evacuate.
Gusts of up to 150kph forecast
Bureau of Meteorology WA manager James Ashley said it was rare for a cyclone to travel as far south as Denham and Geraldton.
"People in coastal paths — particularly in that Shark Bay, Kalbarri area — should prepare for the onset of a storm surge as the system crosses the coast, which is the piling up of water in the onshore flow associated with the system," Mr Ashley said.