Australian authorities issued a red alert for parts of the Pilbara coast in Western Australia on Sunday, March 24, as Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica starts to impact the area. The alert is in effect for communities between Pardoo and Mardie, and residents are being asked to take shelter immediately. As of 10:15 (local time) on Sunday, some areas have experience up to 18 cm (7 in) of rainfall within the past 24 hours, with Dampier and Port Hedland being the most affected. Veronica is currently a Category 3 storm located approximately 95 km (59 mi) west of Port Hedland, with sustained winds of 155 kph (96 mph) and gusts up to 220 kph (137 mph). The core of the storm made landfall between Karratha and Port Hedland and is expected to remain near the coast overnight into Monday, March 25.
Major flooding is expected along the Pilbara coast and adjacent inland areas through Monday. The Bureau of Meteorology has also warned of very dangerous storm tides, along with damaging waves. Consequent flooding, power outages, and transportation disruptions are possible along the Pilbara coast in the coming days.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders, road closures), and anticipate power and telecommunication outages, severe weather, flooding, and transportation disruptions (e.g. flight cancelations, road closures).
Remember that walking or driving through running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) is enough to knock over an adult - and that floodwater may contain wastewater and chemical products; all items in contact with floodwater should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
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