MELBOURNE • Tropical cyclone Seroja made landfall in Western Australia yesterday, with emergency services receiving calls for help and reports of property damage as the Category 3 storm wreaked havoc in coastal areas.
A red alert was broadened to several towns ahead of the cyclone's arrival, with the authorities warning people to immediately take shelter, given the high winds and the prospect of coastal flooding.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that residents had barricaded themselves in cupboards and bathrooms, and unconfirmed social media posts said the cyclone had claimed whole buildings.
Seroja was moving south-east at about 55kmh.
Kalbarri and Geraldton were facing the brunt of the destructive winds, which were felt as far inland as a line from Dalwallinu to Paynes Find, including Morawa.
Heavy rain was projected along the cyclone's track. The cyclone, which was upgraded in severity to Category 3 yesterday, was likely to weaken to Category 2 in severity as it moved further inland, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale ranks storms on a scale of one to five, with Category 3 indicating a weather system that is likely to cause death and destruction with wind speeds of 178kmh to 208kmh.
Officials were bracing themselves for a high degree of damage to towns along the coast, the state emergency services minister said on Saturday, given that buildings in the region were not constructed to withstand such strong winds, Reuters reported.