Cyclone Joyce has formed in the Timor Sea and is gathering strength as it tracks towards the West Australian coast, prompting the evacuation of the world’s largest bulk minerals port and forcing people in the tourist town of Broome and nearby Aboriginal communities to take shelter.
Joyce was a Category 1 cyclone at 8am this morning AWST and is predicted to become a Category 3 when it crosses the coast tomorrow. The Bureau of Meteorology predicts it will pass very close to the state’s largest Aboriginal community of Bidyidanga — population 1000 — tomorrow morning before making landfall between Wallal Downs pastoral station and the iron ore town of Port Hedland.
Ships were this morning preparing for the cyclone by leaving the Pilbara iron ore port of Port Hedland, Australia’s largest export port and the largest bulk minerals port in the world.
Joyce was about 140 kilometres north-north-west of Broome this morning and moving southwest at 6 kilometres per hour.
The Bureau of Meteorology estimated winds of 65kph near the cyclone’s centre, with gusts up to 95kph. But gusts could increase to 180kph tomorrow bringing big tides and dumping heavy rain across the region.
Joyce was estimated to be about 140 kilometres north-north-west of Broome, and moving southwest at 6 kilometres per hour.
In Broome, police are warning residents not to drink too much or hold “cyclone parties”. Senior Sergeant Brendan Barwick said when locals found out yesterday that a Yellow Alert was imminent and would mean all licensed premises would close, they rushed to the bottleshops and began stocking up on alcohol.
“It is evident when people know that there’s a cyclone coming there are large quantities of alcohol purchased — when people heard that we were going to yellow alert they started lining up outside the bottleshops before they opened yesterday afternoon to get supplies before the alert was announced and the shops had to close,” he said.
“I believe they do have cyclone parties and that involves drinking as much as you can with friends.”
Senior Sergeant Barwick said police had two concerns about “cyclone parties” — they wanted people to be sober and lucid incase of an emergency at their home during the cyclone and they did not want drunk people at the town’s cyclone shelter where children and the elderly were already waiting out Cyclone Joyce.
“We want a harmonious environment at that shelter, it’s important that people are not intoxicated,” he said.