Tropical Cyclone Damien batters north-west Australia

SYDNEY • Tropical Cyclone Damien lashed north-western Australia's resource-rich Pilbara region yesterday, downing trees and forcing locals to heed a code red emergency warning and hunker down indoors.

The Category 3 storm brought winds of 195kmh, sending debris into the air, knocking over trees and, in a few instances, ripping roofs off sheds and other outbuildings.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Damien had brought "very destructive winds", "very heavy rainfall" and could yet spark dangerous storm surges.

Power was reportedly knocked out around the towns of Dampier and Karratha, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage to homes or businesses.

The sparsely populated area, which is home to many of Australia's largest iron ore producers, experiences cyclones regularly.

Port Hedland, the world's largest iron ore port, had been cleared of vessels ahead of the storm's arrival.

Many locals stocked up on essential items and locked down their homes as the storm approached. Mines and ports cleared out non-essential staff.

But Damien did not strengthen to a Category 4 storm on the five-point scale as had been feared.

After months of destructive wildfires that have razed millions of hectares of land, Australia has been hit in recent weeks by wild weather that has brought heavy downpours, hail storms and heatwaves.

 

New South Wales, an east coast state where nearly a third of Australia's population lives, saw some areas drenched by the heaviest rainfall in almost 20 years, with severe weather and flash flood warnings.

"Potentially, we haven't seen anything like this since the late 1990s," Bureau of Meteorology acting New South Wales manager Jane Golding said at a news conference.

There were still more than 40 active fires in New South Wales yesterday, half of them yet to be contained, but fire services said the downpours, which are expected to continue into this week, may dampen them.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 09, 2020, with the headline 'Tropical Cyclone Damien batters north-west Australia'. Print Edition | Subscribe