Public buildings are boarded up, flights cancelled and people have been evacuated from outstations as the North West braces for severe tropical cyclone Rusty.
The "slow-moving and erratic" cyclone, which has been gathering power off the coast, was upgraded to a category three system overnight and was forecast to be a category four by tomorrow.
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People in the Pilbara and the Kimberley were warned to expect major flooding, winds of up to 200km/h and huge tides.
The Weather Bureau expects the cyclone to make landfall tomorrow afternoon. Rusty is about 170km north-north-east of Port Hedland and 330km north-east of Karratha. It is moving south at 8km/h.
In Port Hedland, locals were sandbagging shopfronts and clearing supermarket shelves of essentials. Early this morning the Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued a warning to people in low-lying areas ahead of a forecast storm surge.
The iron ore centre's main thoroughfare, Wedge Street, looked like a ghost town even before the yellow alert was declared.
Up to 30 residents at Hedland's makeshift Aboriginal bush community of Two Mile were ordered to seek shelter. Support agency Bloodwood Tree Association said they could use a refuge at South Hedland's Wanangkura Stadium.
All commercial flights in and out of Port Hedland were cancelled when the airport shut at 9pm.
Pardoo remains Rusty's most likely epicentre but some model forecasts show the system stalling just before crossing the coast, tracking briefly west towards Port Hedland and moving inland late tomorrow.
The bureau said Rusty's slow movement would significantly strengthen the system. There were also concerns about a monster storm tide.
Kimberley emergency services boss Matt Reimer said Rusty was "chillingly similar" to the path tropical cyclone Rosita took when it hit Broome in 2000.
So far the system has hit Broome with 125mm of rain in two days.
Most of the region's major mining companies flew workers out yesterday and Port Hedland, Dampier and Cape Lambert ports were set to close by this morning.
A second potential cyclone was south-east of the Cocos Islands last night. There was a strong possibility the storm would develop into a tropical cyclone - to be named Sandra - by 2pm today.
This morning a yellow alert is in place for people from Wallal to Whim Creek, including Pardoo, De Grey and Port Hedland. A blue alert is current for Cape Leveque, Mardie, Broome, Bidyadanga, Karratha, Marble Bar, Nullagine and Millstream.
Residents face a massive clean-up after the system dumped 800mm of rain on the islands between 11am Friday and 11am yesterday - the equivalent of Perth's average annual rainfall.This morning the Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued an emergency relocation for residents in Port Hedland's east and west.
"People in low lying areas of Port Hedland including a small section of Pretty Pool should relocate now," it said.
The alert is current for people between Sharman Mews, Pennings Court and Styles Road.
McGregor Street and Athol Street to the east, the majority of Tkalkaboorda to the east, between Wilson Street and Anderson Street from McGregor Street to The Esplanade to the west.
"Rapid and powerful flooding is very likely," DFES warned. "Severe Tropical Cyclone Rusty's intensity, size and slow movement is likely to lead to a very dangerous storm tide as the cyclone centre nears the coast."The Department of Education advises that the following public schools are closed until further notice:
Hedland Senior High School, Port Hedland Primary School, Port Hedland School of the Air, Cassia Primary School, Cassia Education Support Centre, Baler Primary School, South Hedland Primary School, Pilbara Behaviour Centre, Yandeyarra Remote Community School, Marble Bar Primary School and Nullagine Primary School.
The Department for Child Protection advises that the Andrew McLaughlin Community Centre in Keesing Street in Port Hedland and the Wanangkura Recreation Centre in Hamilton Road South Hedland are offering safe shelter for people who may be forced to leave their homes.