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Australia Bracing For Direct Hit From Strengthening Cyclone Ilsa

As Tropical Cyclone Ilsa intensifies later this week, Western Australia is bracing for high winds and flooding.

Western Australia is preparing for strong winds and flooding later this week as Tropical Cyclone Ilsa continues to gather strength on its final approach to the continent, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

Ahead of the cyclone, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued cyclone warnings, and evacuations were already underway. Those who plan to stay behind have been told to expect damage from wind gusts of over 125 mph (about 200 km (656200.00 feet)/h). Winds that powerful have not been experienced in the area in nearly a decade.

As of Wednesday evening, local time, Ilsa was churning in the eastern Indian Ocean about 190 miles to the west-northwest of Broome, a resort town on Australia’s northwestern coast. It was packing maximum sustained winds of up to 100 mph (160 km (524960.00 feet)/h) making it a Category 3 or severe cyclone on the BOM’s tropical cyclone scale. This is equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

Ilsa is expected to continue strengthening into the equivalent of a Category 3 or 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale before landfall late Thursday night or early Friday, local time, according to AccuWeather Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls.

“That landfall should occur between Wallal Downs and De Grey on Australia’s northwestern coast, with damaging impacts occurring along the western Kimberley and eastern Pilbara coasts,” he said.

Ilsa is expected to continue strengthening into the equivalent of a Category 3 or 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale before landfall late Thursday night or early Friday. ACCUEWATHER

The BOM warns that the core of Ilsa will be “very destructive” as it makes landfall, and could contain wind gusts of up to 170 mph (about 270 km (885870.00 feet)/h). “Destructive” wind gusts as high as 95 mph (about 155 km (508555.00 feet)/h) can occur along the coast between Bidyadanga and Port Hedland, and as far inland as Marble Bar, which is about 100 miles (160 km) away from the shoreline.

“Winds of this strength not only have the ability to bring down trees and power lines, but lift items from your yard and home,” BOM Senior Meteorologist Miriam Bradbury told CNN.

Strong winds are not the only threat that Ilsa poses. Flooding from heavy rainfall and a storm surge along the coast are expected.

#Ilsa is now a severe TC or Cat 1 hurricane equivalent off NW #Australia. A southward turn will lead landfall between #WallalDowns & #DeGrey Thursday night or Friday, local time. Moisture from Ilsa can produce some rain in southeast Australia this weekend.

— Jason Nicholls (@jnmet) April 12, 2023

“A destructive surge is expected along the coast between Bidyadanga and Port Hedland,” added Nicholls. “The speed of the storm may limit rainfall farther inland, but there is a good chance for localized flooding over central Western Australia and the southern Northern Territory into far northern South Australia.”

Residents, tourists and workers along the coast near the expected point of landfall were already evacuating or taking precautions, according to Australia’s 7NEWS.

The region is a heavy iron ore mining area, especially around Port Hedland. Non-essential workers at those mines were already being moved out of the area, and vessels were being cleared from the port, due to the anticipated damaging winds and storm surge.

Those that are staying behind are rushing to supermarkets to stock up on essentials, and are being urged by local officials to tie down any objects that could become airborne in strong winds, according to CNN.

Cyclone Ilsa spins off the coast of Australia
It has been nearly a decade since the last cyclone of a similar magnitude made landfall in this portion of northwestern Australia. ACCUWEATHER

Christine was the last Category 4 cyclone to make landfall in the area back in December 2013,” said Nicholls. “Another Category 4 cyclone, Veronica, brushed the coast but did not make landfall in March 2019, while the last Category 3 cyclone to strike the area was Damien in February 2020.”

While the western part of Australia will bear the brunt of the impacts from Ilsa, rainfall from the cyclone could make a trip across the continent over the weekend, according to AccuWeather forecasters. Moisture from Ilsa can eventually bring heavier rain to southeast Australia later Saturday into Sunday, but the risk of flooding there appears low.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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