The West

Update, 6.40pm: A tropical low which dumped 90mm of rain on Port Hedland overnight has turned into tropical cyclone Peta just off the Pilbara coast.

The cyclone has weakened after crossing the coast and the all clear has been given for people in the Pilbara.

TC Peta was last recorded 40km southeast of Karratha and 105km northeast of Pannawonnica. The cyclone is moving south southwest at 12km/h.

The Bureau of Meteorology said there were no more gales expected but heavy rainfall is expected inland south of Karratha overnight. Thunderstorms are also possible.

Port Hedland recorded more than 90mm of rain overnight as a tropical low hovered off the Pilbara coast.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s official gauge at Port Hedland airport showed 103.6mm in the 24 hours to 9am, smashing the town’s monthly 62.2mm average for January.

The downpour represents the wettest day locally since 106.2mm fell on January 14, 2011 during tropical cyclone Vince, but comes nowhere near Port Hedland’s daily record of 387.1mm set back on January 27, 1967.

BoM forecaster Daniel Hayes said 30-35mm fell every three hours from midnight until morning.

He said Karratha could expect significant rainfall later today with Roebourne recording just under 12mm to 9am.

With the worst of tropical cyclone Peta having passed by Port Hedland, the Pilbara town’s busy port reopened by 4pm today.

The Port Hedland Port Authority remains closed after tie-down procedures were completed about 7pm last night.

However, a spokeswoman said conditions had improved in the last few hours with the swell and wind reducing to a safe level.

“Shipping operations (will soon) restart,” she said.

Peta is expected to weaken after it crosses the coast. The weather bureau said that although the remnants of Peta might move back off the west Pilbara coast later in the week, it was not expected to redevelop into a tropical cyclone.

“If the system does reach cyclone intensity then gales with wind gusts to 100km/h could develop between Port Hedland and Mardie during the day, and possibly extend west towards Onslow in the evening.”

Squally thunderstorms are expected and heavy rainfall is possible, particularly in coastal areas east of Karratha.

Motorists should be extremely cautious when approaching floodways and take care, as debris and other hazards could pose a risk should conditions change.

The West Australian

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