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Towns shut down as Rusty rolls in

People who are sheltering from a category four cyclone in the Pilbara are likely to be stuck inside for some time as the intense weather system, bringing destructive winds and dangerous flooding with it, makes its way across the region very slowly.

Click here for rolling coverage as Rusty blows into Port Hedland and surrounding areas

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Rusty red alert

Dramatic images show destructive winds and rain fall continue to stalk the Pilbara coast.

People in the Pilbara from Pardoo to Whim Creek including Port Hedland and South Hedland, are on "red alert" as cyclone Rusty moves towards the area.

It is likely the alert will not be downgraded for some time and they may have to stay sheltered for up to 36 hours.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services is urging people to be patient, saying the weather poses a threat to lives and homes.

The cyclone has brought strong winds to the area, despite still being off the coast, and will slowly move over the area, meaning highly dangerous winds and rain are expected to continue into tomorrow.


Are you on the ground in WA's North West and want to share your photos or information on cyclone Rusty with us? Email the newsdesk directly or hit us up on Twitter @watoday.

By now, people in the area should have their emergency kit together, and should be sheltering either in a welfare centre or in the strongest, safest part of a building.

People are being urged to stay away from doors and windows, and stay indoors until the "all clear" is given by authorities.

The two relocation centres; one in Port Hedland and one in South Hedland are reportedly close to capacity.

More than a dozen schools in the area are closed and, as of Tuesday, almost 300 houses in the area were without power.

People in low lying areas of Port Hedland, including a small section of Pretty Pool, were urged to relocate because of fears of a storm surge in the area.

At 11 am Rusty was estimated to be 125 kilometres north-east of Port Hedland and 190 kilometres north of Marble Bar and moving southeast at 5km/h towards the coast.

The cyclone has started to take a south-easterly track over the past few hours.

During the afternoon it is expected to take a more southerly track as it moves towards the Pilbara coast.

Wind gusts to 120km/h have already been experienced in Port Hedland and conditions there are likely to get slowly worse during the day.

Gales are occurring on the coast between Sandfire Roadhouse and Whim Creek and may extend west to Karratha and inland towards Marble Bar during today.

Very destructive winds with gusts in excess of 230km/h are likely to develop in coastal parts between Whim Creek and Wallal during the day as it approaches the coast.

Widespread very heavy rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday is likely to lead to major flooding in the De Grey catchment.

Significant flooding is also likely in the Fortescue catchment and in Pilbara coastal streams.

Across the Pilbara:

A "yellow alert" is current for people in or near the coastal communities of Wallal to Pardoo, extending inland to Marble Bar.

There is a possible threat to lives and homes as a cyclone is approaching the area. People need to take action and get ready to shelter from a cyclone.

A "blue alert" is current for people in or near coastal communities of Bidyadanga to Wallal and Whim Creek to Mardie, including Karratha and extending to inland communities including Nullagine and Millstream.

A "cyclone watch" is current for people in or near adjacent inland communities of the Pilbara including Tom Price, Newman and Telfer.

People should prepare their home inside and out and keep up to date with the development of the cyclone through radio, television or the internet.