Parts of WA brace for possible cyclone

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Parts of Western Australia have been told to brace for a possible cyclone as a tropical low moves down the coast near Karratha.

The low pressure system is predicted to track close to the Pilbara coast in the coming days, and may develop into a tropical cyclone.

The coastal Pilbara and west Kimberley regions have been told to prepare for heavy rain and gale-force winds.

A blue alert was issued for the communities from Cape Leveque to Whim Creek early on Sunday, and the bureau of meteorology says people in or near these communities should prepare for dangerous cyclonic weather.

The alert states outdoor equipment such as boats, caravans, trailers and furniture should be secured, and an emergency kit including food and water, first aid kit, torch, portable radio, and spare batteries should be readied.

Gales and wind gusts up to 100km/h may develop in coastal areas between Cape Leveque and the Pardoo Roadhouse, including Broome, on Sunday afternoon.

Destructive gusts of up to 130km/h could develop on the Pilbara coast west of Port Headland on Monday.

Flood warnings have also been issued for the north Kimberley and west Kimberley Districts, as well as the Fitzroy River, while flood watches are in place for the Sandy Desert and Pilbara catchments.

Port Hedland is expecting heavy rain and gale force winds from Sunday, and authorities have started clearing the ports at Port Hedland and the Port of Dampier.

Meanwhile, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck about 300km north-northwest of the Dampier Peninsula at a depth of 20km early on Saturday.