A ferocious tropical cyclone is heading for the West Australian coast, bringing potential widespread damage and power outages.

Cyclone Ilsa is expected to hit Broome, Western Australia, on Thursday, bringing winds strong enough to damage roofs, knock over trees and caravans, and cause mass power outages, the Bureau of Meteorology has warned.

It is currently about 350km northwest of Broome and a category 2, but is expected to become a category 4 by the time it hits land, with winds up to 250km per hour.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner of Western Australia, Darren Klemm, said it had been 10 years since a cyclone of that size had hit the WA coast.

Some Western Australians have been warned to evacuate as Tropical Cyclone Ilsa (pictured) is set to hit Broome and Port Hedland

Some Western Australians have been warned to evacuate as Tropical Cyclone Ilsa (pictured) is set to hit Broome and Port Hedland

‘There’ll be many people up there who haven’t experienced a Cat 4 cyclone before,’ he told CNN.

Tourists staying along the portion of coast between Broome and Port Hedland have been told to move from the projected path of the storm, while others have rushed to supermarkets to stockpile food and other supplies. 

Cyclones are common on the west coast of Australia, with the Bureau of Meteorology recording seven last year. 

The northern coast of Western Australia has been hit by 13 storms equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane since 1960, but this would be the first since Tropical Cyclone Laurence in 2009, which hit in a similar location with winds of 240km per hour at landfall.

The BOM says there is a ‘very destructive core’  at the centre of the cyclone.

‘Extreme gusts up to 270 km/hr is expected to cross the coast between Bidyadanga and De Grey on Thursday night, and inland to Telfer Friday morning,’ the Bureau stated.

Winds in the cyclone have already been recorded as 140 kilometres per hour, with forecasters predicting it could reach 200 kilometres per hour by the time it hit lands

Winds in the cyclone have already been recorded as 140 kilometres per hour, with forecasters predicting it could reach 200 kilometres per hour by the time it hit lands

Peter Carter, the Mayor of Port Hedland, has warned people to keep their belongings, including wheelie bins, inside to stop them becoming ‘missiles’.

‘The main thing is going to be flying debris around your house – your barbecue, outdoor setting, even your wheelie bin can become a missile in these winds,’ he said.

‘Make sure loose items around the house are put away safely.’ 

Mr Klemm urged residents to take the weather ‘extremely seriously’ adding there is ‘no excuse not to be prepared’.

He added that remote Aboriginal communities, mines and tourism groups as well as pastoral stations had been contacted. 

Mr Klemm said residents should visit the Emergency WA website for instructions on what to do, which include having a battery-operated AM radio for emergency warnings, having enough food for three to four days and cleaning up around the home before the storm hits.

The low system is expected to form into a cyclone tonight before tracking closer to land later in the week

The low system is expected to form into a cyclone tonight before tracking closer to land later in the week

The BoM says 'severe impact is likely along the coast between Port Hedland and Broome, during Thursday or Friday'

The BoM says ‘severe impact is likely along the coast between Port Hedland and Broome, during Thursday or Friday’

Sky meteorologist Rob Sharpe said once the cyclone moved inland, it would move across the coastal area between Port Hedland and Broome.

‘The tropical low is turning into a tropical cyclone and moving parallel to the WA coastline through the next couple days until about Thursday,’ Mr Sharpe said.

‘Through Tuesday and into Wednesday … that system could undergo rapid intensification.

Two helicopters, as well as a 26-person response team are on standby in the area to take medical evacuations if required. 

A photo shared to social media showing empty supermarket shelves as people stockpile groceries before the cyclone hits

A photo shared to social media showing empty supermarket shelves as people stockpile groceries before the cyclone hits

Photos shared on social media from local supermarkets show empty shelves.

One local shared a video online of the empty produce section in Port Hedland Woolworths.

‘Look at that guys. Everyone is getting ready for the cyclone. Oh god, even the brown onion is gone,’ she said in the clip.

A spokeswoman for Coles told news.com.au they were working to ensure that there was a reliable supply of food and groceries in Broome and South Hedland.

The strongest storm ever to hit any part of Australia was Tropical Cyclone Monica, which arrived in 2006 with sustained winds around 180 mph (290 kph), as it swept across the eastern and northern part of Australia.



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